Upright, pointy, candle-shaped clusters of monochromatic flowers, lupins are an excellent source of protein as well as dietary fiber. Lupin seeds are an excellent meat substitute for people leading either a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle and boast significant cholesterol lowering properties, contributing immensely to cardiovascular health. They have a good thiamine, folic acid and arginine content and provide generous amounts of essential minerals such as magnesium, manganese, potassium and zinc.
Regular consumption of lupin seeds is believed to aid digestion, improve intestinal motility, boost immunity and promote heart health, provided you are not alergic to them. It is particularly beneficial for people with celiac disease because it lacks gluten. Being a legume, it is an important source of protein, but also dietary fiber, helping relieve constipation.
What is lupin and what does it look like? Lupin, also known as lupine, refers to a family of flowers producing edible, nutritious seeds called beans and classified as legumes. Lupin plants date back thousands of years and have constituted a basic food source for ancient Mediterranean as well as Central and South American civilizations. Depending on the variety, plants may grow as little as 29 cm or as high as 3 meters. They have a distinct flower head shape, very similar in appearance to a pointy candle or a spear and blade-like deep green leaves looking very much like flowers themselves. Lupin flowers range in color from white and yellow to orange, pink, red, blue or purple. Each lupin flower produces up to 6 tiny, edible golden seeds known as lupin beans.
What do lupin seeds taste like? Lupin seeds contain alkaloids, poisonous natural compounds responsible for the bitter taste of the beans. The seeds thus need to be soaked in plenty of water for several hours (overnight might be best) before being consumed. Also, it has been revealed that lupin seeds trigger severe, possibly life-threatening allergic reactions in people already suffering from peanut allergy, in which case you might want to avoid them. Lupinus angustifolius, or the Australian sweet lupin, has a nuttier flavor.
Overall, lupin is quite the nutritious bean, boasting a generous nutritional profile. Regular consumption is believed to have great health benefits, especially in the case of Celiac and cardiovascular disease sufferers. Here is a list of the top 10 health benefits of lupin consumption:
1) Great cholesterol-lowering properties. Raw lupin seeds are an extraordinary source of dietary fiber, providing 18.9 g of fiber/100 g of beans. Fiber not only favors digestion, but also prevents the absorption of fat from food at the intestinal level, indirectly contributing to lower blood cholesterol levels.
2) Beneficial effect on blood vessel health. Lupin seeds contain an essential amino acid called arginine. Among other things, arginine has highly beneficial effects on the inner walls of our blood vessels, contributing to what is called endothelial function. Endothelial dysfunction is a major cause of cardiovascular disease, leading to atherosclerosis, high blood pressure and cholesterol levels, myocardial infarction and stroke.
3) Improves intestinal motility and relieves constipation. With such an incredibly high fiber content, lupin beans help normalize digestion and prevent symptoms such as painful abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, bloating, gastroesophageal reflux and constipation.
4) Boosts immunity. Lupin beans are a great source of zinc, a potent immunity boosting mineral that reduces the gravity of and stimulates recovery following various infections. Zinc basically stimulates the body to heal itself. A common symptoms of zinc deficiency is represented by white spots on nails.
5) Promotes bone health. Lupin seeds are rich in magnesium, a mineral that ensures the absorption of calcium in bones (not in joints of arteries) and thus contributes to maintaining bone mineral density and preventing osteoporosis.
6) Offers muscle and nerve support. Being a good source of magnesium, lupins help maintain healthy muscles, myocard (heart muscle) included. This is done by regulating the activity of nerve cells which control movement, heartbeat, mental processes, etc. in muscles.
7) Excellent protein content. It is estimated that lupin beans are almost 40% protein, making them an ideal meat substitute for anyone leading either a vegetarian or a vegan lifestyle.
8) Supports carbohydrate synthesis. Rich in B vitamins, notably vitamins B1 and B9, lupins help support carbohydrate synthesis, a process resulting in energy for maintaining essential body functions such as breathing. Vitamin B9, also known as folic acid or folate, is essential during pregnancy for the prevention of spinal cord defects in newborns.
9) Prevents free radical cell damage. The manganese in lupin beans is a cofactor for the superoxide dismutase enzyme, required for the prevention of free radical damage that may possibly lead to cell mutations and cancer formations.
10) Is gluten-free. Last, but not least, lupin beans lack gluten, a protein coeliac disease sufferers and gluten-intolerant or gluten sensitive individuals cannot digest due to their small intestine triggering a sort of immune reaction to it. This makes them a good option for celiac sufferers, contributing to adding variety to their diets.