Lupins are legumes often grown ornamentally in gardens for their flowers, but their beans have been eaten since Roman times. About 80 per cent of the world’s commercial lupin crop is produced in Western Australia where it conditions the soil and is sold for livestock feed.
According to Victoria University dietitian Regina Belski, who conducted the study, there has been renewed interest in using lupin flour in regular foods, because of its unique high protein, high fibre composition, and its ability to be incorporated easily into typical food products such as bread.
Belski and her colleagues at the University of Western Australia, in collaboration with the Perth-based Centre for Food and Genomic Medicine, conducted the research into the intake of lupin over the course of a year.
The study involved 131 overweight but otherwise healthy individuals who were put on a weight loss diet and split into two groups. While one group ate foods incorporating the lupin flour, the other ate foods made solely with wholemeal flour. The foods provided to participants during the study included bread, pasta and biscuits.
“During the course of the experiment, we monitored heart disease risk factors, including blood pressure, and the level of fats, sugar and insulin in the blood,” said Belski.
The researchers found that while both the lupin group and the wholemeal group lost similar amounts of weight, the lupin group displayed bigger improvements in several heart disease risk factors, lower blood pressure and improved insulin sensitivity.
“The study suggested that lupin flour might also be good for those suffering from type-2 or adult onset diabetes, because even in non-diabetic individuals sensitivity to insulin improved during the trial,” she added.
According to Belski, the study does validate an increased availability of lupin food products on the market, especially for the health conscious customer.
“In Western Australia, commercial food manufacturers have already begun making and selling products that incorporate lupin flour,” said Belski.
Among these manufacturers of lupin flour are Irwin Valley Pty Ltd, which was established in 2002 as a part of the Mingenew-Irwin Group, and Corrow Seeds Pty Ltd., established in 2005.
Source: International Journal of Obesity
(2011) Vol. 35, pp. 810-819
“Effects of lupin-enriched foods on body composition and cardiovascular disease risk factors: a 12-month randomized controlled weight loss trial”
Authors: R Belski, TA Mori, IB Puddey, S Sipsas, RJ Woodman, TR Ackland, LJ Beilin, ER Dove, NB Carlyon, V Jayaseena, and JM Hodgson