Lupins are legumes, close relatives of the pea and bean family, otherwise known as pulses. This herbaceous shrub was grown in the ancient Roman era, but was superseded by other cereal and grain crops. The seed is renowned for its high protein content, with recent studies indicating it has therapeutic value in reducing blood cholesterol levels, and preventing the effects of hypertension and diabetes. It is also rich in essential fatty acids, carotene and vitamin E and has antioxidative properties, useful in protecting against the action of free radicals.
Lupins are grown in rotation with other cereals, as they thrive on acidic and infertile soils where other pulses grow poorly. They can be used to make a range of products including bread, biscuits, pasta, noodles and confectionery. There is also a lupin tofu that is very similar to the original. Studies are also under way to examine the pharmacological, medical, and cosmetic value of lupin oils. The oil is reputed to have firming properties. Lupins are incorporated as a supplement in livestock feed and are also used as a manure.
Lupin seeds are characterised by:
GI, or glycaemic index, is a term that has gained popularity with relation to diet and the foods we consume. This uses a ranking that measures the effect of a food on your blood glucose levels over the two hours after you have eaten. A low GI food is 55 or less, a medium GI food is 56-69, and a high GI food is 70 or more. A high GI food will see the blood glucose level rise and fall sharply, while a lower GI food will see a slower, steadier rise in blood glucose levels. Very high glucose levels after a meal is damaging to the arteries and blood vessels as they cause an excess of insulin in the body.
Lupin, and lupin derived products can therefore have a role in:
Lupin can be found in whole seed or ground form at most health stores.
A small proportion of people are allergic to lupin protein. In a similar fashion to peanut allergies, they can cause an anaphylactic response.