Lupin bean

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Australian Sweet Lupin Lupinus angustiflius Narrow-leafed lupin, mature seeds, raw
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 1,810 kJ (430 kcal)
Sugars g
Dietary fiber 15.4 g
Saturated 1.2g
Monounsaturated 2.7g
Polyunsaturated 2.1g
32 g
Tryptophan 0.32g
Threonine 1.04g
Isoleucine 1.23g
Leucine 2.08g
Lysine 1.43g
Methionine 0.22g
Cystine 0.46g
Phenylalanine 1.12g
Tyrosine 1.07g
Valine 1.18g
Arginine 3.65g
Histidine 0.76g
Trace metals
68.5 mg
19.0 mg
34.1 mg
Other constituents
Water 9.5g

Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.

Lupin or lupini beans are the yellow legume seeds of Lupinus genus and are a traditional food of the Mediterranean basin (L. albus) and Latin America (L. mutabilis). They are traditionally eaten as a pickled snack food. They must be prepared correctly or there is a risk of alkaloid poisoning.

History and distribution[edit]

Lupini were popular with the Romans, who spread their cultivation throughout the Roman Empire. Today, lupini are most commonly found in Mediterranean countries and their former colonies, especially in Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece, and Brazil, as well as Egypt (where it is part of Sham El Nessim holiday meals), Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, Turkey, Chicago's Little Italy, and in New York City's Spanish Harlem, where they are popularly served with beer. In Portuguese, lupini beans are known as tremoços, and in Spain and Argentina they are called altramuz (both names are derived from Arabic الترمس al-turmus). In Antalya Province, Turkey they are known as tirmis and in Konya Province, Turkey they are known as termiye.

Native America[edit]

The Andean American variety of this bean, Lupinus mutabilis, was a food widespread during the Incan Empire. Lupins were also used by Native Americans in North America, e.g. the Yavapai people.

Varieties of bean[edit]

The Andean lupin L. mutabilis, the Mediterranean Lupinus albus (white lupin), and Lupinus hirsutus[1] are only edible after soaking the seeds for some days in salted water.[2]

Some lupins are referred to as sweet lupins because they contain much smaller amounts of toxic alkaloids than the bitter lupin varieties. Newly bred variants of the narrow-leafed or 'Australian Sweet Lupin' (L. angustifolius) lupins are grown in Australia, Germany and Poland; they lack any bitter taste and require no soaking in salt solution. The seeds are used for different foods from lupin flake, vegan sausages, lupin-tofu & lupin flour. Given that lupin seeds have the full range of essential amino acids and that they, contrary to soy, can be grown in more temperate to cool climates, lupins are becoming increasingly recognized as a cash crop alternative to soy.

Three Mediterranean species of lupin (blue lupin, white lupin and yellow lupin) are widely cultivated for livestock and poultry feed. Bitter lupins in feed can cause livestock poisoning. Lupin poisoning is a nervous syndrome caused by alkaloids in bitter lupins, similar to neurolathyrism. Mycotoxic lupinosis is a disease caused by lupin material that is infected with the fungus Diaporthe toxica;[3] the fungus produces mycotoxins called phomopsins, which cause liver damage.

Lupins are currently under widespread cultivation in Australia, Europe, Russia, and the Americas as a green manure, livestock fodder and grazing plant, and high protein additive for animal and human foods.[4] In Australia, the danger of cross-pollination of the wild bitter and cultivated sweet low-alkaloid variety is understood to be unacceptable when testing reveals the presence of one bitter bean per hundred sweet beans, and a wide quarantine zone is maintained around lupin-growing croplands to prevent wind-blown wild pollen from having a large influence on crop toxicity.[5]

Snack food[edit]

Lupini beans ready for consumption

Lupini beans are commonly sold in a brine in jars (like olives and pickles) and can be eaten by making a small tear in the skin with one's teeth and "popping" the seed directly into one's mouth, but can also be eaten with the skin on. Highly skilled lupini eaters learn to fissure the skin by rubbing the bean between forefinger and thumb. In countries like Portugal, they are very popular in bars as a snack while drinking beer.

Health Benefits[edit]

Lupins are[citation needed]:

  • One of the highest sources of plant proteins available (40%), roughly 4 times higher than whole grain wheat;
  • One of the highest sources of dietary fiber (36%);
  • Easily digestible with high bio-availability of essential nutrients and minerals;
  • Cholesterol free and contain negligible amounts of trypsin inhibitors (known to interfere with digestion) often found in other legumes;
  • Very low in lectins and saponins (two known gastric irritants), the latter of which afflicts the soybean even after extensive baking and processing;
  • Convenient, healthy and do not require chemical treatment;
  • Are probiotic promoting the growth of good bacteria;
  • Are very high sources of essential amino acids and;
  • Gluten free

Studies have revealed that Australian Sweet Lupins[citation needed]:

  • Suppress appetite;
  • Reduce the glycaemic load of carbohydrate based foods;
  • Reduce blood pressure;
  • Improve glucose metabolism (diabetes);
  • Improve bowel health.

Grain Composition[edit]

The lupin is devoid of starch, which is very unusual for a species of edible bean. Lupins have a thick seed coat (25%) which consists mainly of cellulose (insoluble fibre-bran) and its removal is the first step in lupin processing. The kernel (split) of lupin is rich in protein (40%), fibre (40%) and moderate in fat (8%) made up largely of unsaturated fatty acids. Intensive plant breeding programs have ensured that modern lupin varieties have relatively low levels of the alkaloids found in their ancestral genotypes. Lupins also contain moderate amounts of carotenoids; beta carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin and tocopherols (Vitamin E).

Australian sweet lupin features a higher calcium and phosphate content than cereals with trace element content varying in line with the mineral content of the soil in which the lupin is grown.

Lupin oils have high antioxidant capacities due in part to the presence of tocopherol (Vitamin E – the total vitamin E content is about 2.3-4.6 mg/kg of oil).

Lupin Allergy[edit]

Lupin beans can be ground into a flour and this is widely used in parts of Europe and in Australia as an additive to wheat flour, enhancing the flavour and lending a rich, creamy colour to the resulting foods. However, lupin allergy is on the rise and may cause life-threatening anaphylaxis in sensitive individuals ([6]). There is some cross-reactivity with peanut allergy, so nut allergy sufferers should exercise extreme caution with lupin-containing food. In the EU, lupin must be listed as an allergen in pre-packed foods where it has been used, but may still be hidden in over-the-counter products. This can be a significant problem for allergy sufferers since breads, pastries, pizzas, pasta, cakes and ice cream are all commonly sold over-the-counter, and all may contain lupin. Lupin has even been found in some tomato ketchup sauces. At present, no desensitization treatments are available, so avoidance is the only advice offered, alongside carrying an epi-pen and anti-histamine/anti-inflammatory medication.

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