Is Lupin the Next Super Grain?
High in protein and fibre and low GI, experts say this humble grain could be the next big thing.
Mention the word “lupin” and most people think of the colourful flowers, but there’s more to this pretty member of the legume family. Research is uncovering the potential health benefits of lupin grains when they replace wheat in products such as bread. Lupin is 40 to 45 per cent protein, 25 to 30 per cent dietary fibre, it has little or no starch and it’s low in oil. Put this together and it may be a natural weapon against obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and insulin insensitivity – all risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
The health benefits of lupin
Lupin can be great for our heart health and blood pressure
“Research suggests lupin has real potential for being a functional food,” says Dr Regina Belski, a lecturer in dietetics and human nutrition at La Trobe University in Melbourne. In one study, a group of overweight and obese people was divided into those who ate lupin-enriched bread, biscuits and pasta or into a control group that ate wholemeal versions of these foods. At the end of the study, the lupin group had “significantly” lower blood pressure and improved insulin sensitivity.
Lupin-enriched foods help with appetite control. A study at the University of Western Australia found people who had lupin bread for breakfast ate up to 20 per cent less for lunch than people who ate white bread for breakfast. “When people eat lupin-enriched bread they feel fuller more quickly and that fullness lasts, so people eat less at their next meal, too,” Belski says.
People should be wary of possible allergies when trying lupin-enriched foods. “Lupin falls into the nut family so err on the cautious side if you have a history of allergic reactions, particularly to peanuts,” says Maria Packard, a spokeswoman for the Dietitians Association of Australia..
Although research shows lupin is a naturally healthy food, and great for its high- fibre, low-GI qualities, it’s not that easy to get hold of and is still considered an under-utilised crop. “The problem is lupin is not readily available at the moment,” Packard says.
How to eat it
Lupin beans are often sold in jars preserved in brine – much like olives and pickles – and enjoyed as a snack.