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Lupini Beans: Benefits, Uses, Nutrition and Side Effects

The legume family is large. Within this variety, lupini appear as an alternative to lentils, chickpeas and beans in the preparation of different dishes. In addition, lupini beans are recognized as a healthy snack, rich in soluble fibers, proteins, vitamins and low in carbohydrates.

Even so, they are less popular compared to soybeans and other beans. Keep reading to learn about all the health benefits of lupini beans, their consumption preventions and how to integrate them into your diet.

What are lupini and where do they come from?

These are the beans from the lupinus plant, a genus of the Fabaceae legume family, which also includes chickpeas and lentils. Yellow or cream in color, lupini beans grow inside a pod and take on an oval shape. Also known as chochos or lupin, they are a snack of ancient consumption, revalued in recent decades for their multiple nutritional benefits.

Easy to grow in sandy soils, the plant appears in the Mediterranean region with three main species: blue, white and yellow lupine. In addition, it is present in Australia, America and other parts of Europe, where it is usually used for grazing and, increasingly, for human consumption.

Origin of the crop

The first evidence of human consumption comes from Ancient Egypt. More specifically, from the 22nd century BC, thanks to the seeds found in the tombs of pharaohs. Later, the Romans spread its cultivation and consumption throughout the Mediterranean region.

Currently, these legumes have a strong presence in countries such as Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece. However, at first it was associated with food for livestock and low-income families, thanks to its nutritious and satiating nature. Today more and more products include them in recipes rich in vegetable protein.

Nutritional Value of Lupini Beans

As with other legumes, the lupini beans have numerous nutritional benefits. They are a source of abundant protein and vegetable fiber, while presenting low carbohydrates and no gluten, which makes it suitable for celiacs. In addition, it provides a variety of vitamins and minerals.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, 100 grams of the raw bean have the following values:

  • Water: 10.4%
  • Fiber: 18.9%
  • Calories: 371
  • Fats: 9.74%
  • Proteins: 36.2%
  • Calcium: 176 milligrams
  • Carbohydrates: 40.4%
  • Phosphorus: 440 milligrams
  • Magnesium: 198 milligrams
  • Potassium: 1010 milligrams

For their part, cooked and unsalted lupini beans vary their properties in the following way. Keep in mind that many products sold in brine have a high amount of sodium.

  • Calories: 119
  • Calcium: 51 mg
  • Iron: 1,2 mg
  • Phosphorus: 128 mg
  • Magnesium: 54 mg
  • Vitamin C: 1.1 mg
  • Potassium: 245 milligrams

Health Benefits of Lupini Beans

The consumption and diffusion of lupins is increasing, due to the nutritional properties it presents. Its low glycemic index is positive for regulating blood sugar, while fiber has beneficial effects on intestinal health.

1. Promote better digestion

Lupini, in not excessive quantities, are favorable for the bacterial microflora thanks to their prebiotic compounds. Fiber may benefit intestinal functions, as well as decrease the risk of colon cancer and promote a healthy digestive system. Additionally, it reduces the risk of constipation.

The bacteria responsible for these benefits are those of the genus Bifidobacterium spp, which contribute to the decomposition of food and the absorption of nutrients. One study from 2006, found that people on diets containing lupin bean fiber increased levels of bifidobacteria.

2. Improve cardiovascular health

Lupini contain polyphenols, such as flavonoids and phenolic acids, molecules that may protect against cardiovascular diseases. On the other hand, its intake has a positive influence on blood pressure.

In this regard, research published in The American journal of clinical nutrition analyzed the effects of bread made with lupini flour on overweight people. The results indicate that, compared to wheat flour, the incorporation of lupini can help reduce blood pressure and cardiovascular risk.

It should be noted that, although raw beans have a low level of sodium, those sold canned or in brine usually have a high level of sodium. Preserving this bean requires water and salt, so it tends to retain part of it. It can include up to 900 milligrams in 100-gram servings.

3. They help reduce cholesterol levels

The protein present in lupin helps reduce the levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and total cholesterol. This is suggested by a study in the journal Clinical Nutrition, where they worked with 72 people with hypercholesterolemia. The researchers associate these reductions with the arginine content in the bean protein.

4. Improve the immune system

The high level of protein in lupini beans, higher than that of other legumes such as lentils, broad beans and peas, contributes to cell growth. It also contributes to tissue repair, which is why it collaborates with the proper functioning of the immune system.

5. Preventing diabetes

Lupini beans have a low glycemic index, therefore they do not raise blood sugar levels. In a 2005 study, the GI of white bread and bread combined with lupini flour was compared. The first showed an index of 100, while the second dropped to 74.

For its part, other work suggests that beans have anti-inflammatory effects and can prevent diabetes, obesity and metabolic syndrome. He attributes these effects to the different conglutins present in the proteins of the food.

Are lupini beans good for weight loss?

Before including them in the diet, it is common to wonder if lupini make you fat. The good news is that they contain very little starch, low carbohydrates and a great satiety effect. These conditions, together with the few calories, allow it to be positioned as a useful food for losing weight. For this reason, it is usually included in diets that seek this objective, above all, replacing bread with wheat flour.

Side effects of lupini

To understand the contraindications of lupini, we must keep in mind that there are two large varieties of the bean. On the one hand, sweets; on the other, bitters, which include higher levels of toxic alkaloids. It is these same alkaloids that generate that taste in the seed, which, when washed incorrectly, can produce symptoms of poisoning, such as:

  • Fever
  • Dizziness
  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Burning sensation in the mouth
  • Stomachache

For this reason, it is recommended to obtain the product in brine or the sweet variety. In any case, dried beans are safe as long as they first go through a leaching process. That is, the separation of the toxic substance through soaking. Later, we will explain in detail how to soak the beans before consuming them.

Even so, the chances of poisoning are low, because the majority of marketing comes from Australian sweet lupini. For their part, bitters tend to be sold already prepared in brine for safe intake, beyond the increase in sodium.

Precautions for people with allergies

People with allergies to any type of nut or legume should be especially careful with lupini. Above all, those who have this reaction of peanuts, since there are numerous cases of cross-reactivity. In a linked study, involving more than 5,300 people allergic to peanuts, it was found that 17.1% also generated reactions to lupini.

On the other hand, it is advisable not to exceed the daily intake, and this applies to all people. The high fiber content can cause intestinal discomfort and diarrhea. If you are wondering how much lupini you can eat per day, do not exceed 30 grams, equivalent to three tablespoons.

Lupini: a healthy and energetic alternative

The nutritional profile of these beans led to them being consumed more and more and being considered as ingredients for numerous recipes. Choose to vary your intake of lentils and chickpeas with these low-carbohydrate, high-protein, low-calorie beans. Their preparation method allows them to be integrated into the kitchen in a similar way to other legumes.

For safe intake, it is enough to carry out the soaking process every time you obtain the raw beans. Remember that it is not necessary to do this for the variants that come in brine, although it is necessary to check the high level of sodium they contain.

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