Lupins: Lupine flour, seeds & co. are so healthy.

Lupins are legumes and can be used in a variety of ways. Products made from this native plant are becoming increasingly popular – also because of their health-promoting ingredients. Because lupins provide us with vegetable  protein , vitamins,  minerals  and  antioxidants .  Below you can find out what you should know about the versatile  superfood .

What are lupins?

Lupins have been cultivated by humans for a whopping 4,000 years. The plants are also known as lupine beans, fig beans or wolf beans. Lupine meal or lupine flour is obtained from the legumes of the plants, the so-called lupine seeds. Similar to soy, these serve as a versatile and particularly protein-rich food.

There are different types of lupins – in addition to the wild lupins, there are also species specially bred for consumption. While wild lupins can only be eaten after appropriate processing, the lupine varieties cultivated for consumption can be used immediately.

Lupins – healthy or poisonous?

Wild lupins contain bitter substances, some of which are toxic – the so-called alkaloids. For this reason, they first have to be laboriously debittered before consumption. Otherwise there is a risk of fatal health damage, such as respiratory arrest.

That is why lupins were bred without these toxic substances, the so-called  sweet lupins. Nowadays the following varieties are grown:

  • Yellow Lupine
  • White Lupine
  • Blue sweet lupine

Their  seeds  can be used directly for food production because they do not contain any dangerous bitter substances – instead they are rich in protein and other valuable substances.

However, lupine seeds also contain so-called lectins, which disrupt the transport of oxygen in our blood. However, they are rendered harmless by further processing the seeds, such as soaking or cooking.

However, there is a health risk when consuming lupine products for people who suffer from a  peanut allergy  . There is a high risk that they will also have an allergic reaction to lupins. It is therefore better for them to refrain from eating such foods.

Nutritional values ​​and ingredients of lupins

100 grams of lupine seeds contain about 42 grams of protein and 250 kilocalories (kcal) – the equivalent of about 1,057 kilojoules. They are also rich in fiber, which is important for a healthy  intestinal flora  . With 6 grams per 100 grams, the fat content of lupins is comparatively low. In addition, the proportion of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids is high.

The health-promoting components of lupins include:

  • Iron This trace element is necessary for the transport of oxygen from the lungs to the cells of the body.
  • Potassium Potassium is needed to transmit nerve impulses to muscles (such as the heart). In addition, it regulates the electrolyte balance of the human organism.
  • Calcium:  The mineral is important for the stability of bones and teeth, cell functions and blood clotting.
  • Lysine:  This essential  amino acid  is needed by our body to build other amino acids. Since we cannot produce lysine ourselves, we have to get it from food. Lysine is also important for the functioning of our musculoskeletal system. In addition, the amino acid promotes cell division.
  • Magnesium Just like potassium, magnesium is important for the functioning of nerves and muscles. It is also needed in the build-up of bone and tooth substance.
  • Phosphorus The mineral stabilizes the pH value, i.e. the acidity, of our blood, is part of the DNA in the cell nuclei and is required for bones and teeth as well as the energy balance.
  • Vitamin A:  The  vital substance  plays an important role in the development of cells and tissues. It is also necessary for healthy eyesight. As an antioxidant, it reduces oxidative stress from pollutants in our food and environment. It thus contributes to the prevention of serious diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular problems.
  • Vitamin B1:  It is required for the  metabolism  and helps in particular to gain energy from carbohydrates that we ingest with food.
  • Vitamin E:  Vitamin E also has an antioxidant effect. It alleviates inflammatory processes and has protective functions for our blood vessels and memory.

Phytoestrogens in lupins

Lupins contain so-called phytoestrogens, which are secondary plant substances. Phytoestrogens, colloquially referred to as “plant hormones”, are scientifically controversial. Some researchers believe that they could, for example, prevent cancer and help with menopause problems, while others suspect a carcinogenic, i.e. cancer-causing, effect. Lupins also contain phytoestrogens, but 50 times less than soy, for example.

Studies: How healthy are lupins?

Unfortunately, the study situation is still very thin. However, the first – promising – findings are already available.

For example, there is evidence that lupins could be an effective source of  polyphenols  . These phytochemicals are well-known antioxidants that, if consumed regularly, can protect the body from serious diseases such as cancer and  heart  attacks.

Consumption of lupine products could also be advisable if you have an elevated cholesterol level. Initial research results suggest that lupins both  have a cholesterol-lowering  effect and  could reduce the risk of arteriosclerosis  . That would mean that lupins could protect us from heart disease and prevent heart attacks and strokes.

But that’s not all: Another study showed that lupins may   prevent colon cancer  and  lower blood pressure  . In addition, there is reason to believe that lupins may increase insulin sensitivity, which in turn would be associated with a  reduced risk of diabetes  . A positive effect on the  intestinal flora  is also possible.

Lupins as an alternative to soy

Lupins have increasingly become the focus of food manufacturers in recent years. On the one hand, this is due to its valuable ingredients, but on the other hand, it is also due to its environmental compatibility.

In contrast to the legume soy, lupins do not have to be imported from far away countries, but can be grown here with us. That is why they are also known as the “soy of the north”. More and more people are trying to eat local foods whenever possible. They therefore like to use lupine-based products. In addition, lupins are always free of genetic engineering.

Lupins are very undemanding in cultivation. For this reason, lupins thrive almost anywhere – even without fertilizer. At the same time, they form extremely strong and deep roots that loosen the soil. Therefore, lupine cultivation is, so to speak, recreation for the soil. This is one of the reasons why lupins are considered to be particularly environmentally friendly.

What lupine products are there?

Lupins are used in a variety of products:

  • Lupine “meat”, i.e. a  meat substitute, is particularly interesting for vegetarians and vegans.  For example, lupine slices are available. If you fancy a lupine burger, you can grab the appropriate patties.
  • Lupine flour  is often used for plant-based protein breads. Bakery products containing lupine have a longer shelf life and have an improved consistency. Nevertheless, lupine flour should only be used in addition to conventional flour. Otherwise its own taste is too present. Since lupins contain hardly any carbohydrates that the body can use, but a lot of  roughage , the flour also reduces the rise in blood sugar after eating the baked goods. Incidentally, the flour is also suitable for making a  lupine protein shake.  Appropriate recipes can be found on the Internet.
  •  You can buy ready -made lupine noodles , but you can also make them yourself with lupine flour.
  • Lupine drink,  also known colloquially as lupine milk, is a suitable substitute for  milk. However, the term  milk  is legally reserved for “real” milk.
  • Lupine flakes  are good in muesli or as a healthy snack between meals.
  • Lupine yoghurt  and  lupine ice cream  are available in different flavors.
  • The same applies to  lupine spreads  – these can also be bought ready-made or made yourself.
  • Lupine coffee  tastes similar to “real”  coffee , but contains no caffeine.

Lupins are lactose and gluten free. However, this does not mean that this must automatically apply to all lupine products. Baked goods made with lupine flour may also contain cereal flours containing gluten. If in doubt, a look at the list of ingredients will provide information. It is often clearly stated on the packaging if a product is lactose- and/or gluten-free.

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