Lupins (legume) : properties, benefits, uses

Nourishing and energetic, lupins were used by our ancestors in nutrition for their high satiating power and its numerous benefits. Find out about the properties of lupins, advice for use and contraindications.

Lupins (sometimes also called “fusaie” or “fusaglie”) are legumes rich in properties that have been known for some time. This is Lupinus albus, better known in our country as white lupine (even if they are yellow in color), a plant belonging to the legume family, like the much better known chickpeas and beans. There are also other species of lupine, among which we remember the blue lupine and the yellow lupine, which however do not grow in our country due to the unfavorable climate.

This plant has been known since ancient times and belongs to the typical foods of the Mediterranean basin, therefore characteristic of that Diet that has long since become an intangible heritage of unesco for its numerous benefits. It was cultivated both for the nutritional power of its seed and for its nitrogen content, which made the land used for cultivation more fertile.

These legumes, once extremely widespread, have been slowly abandoned, only to come back into vogue in recent years, thanks to their high protein content that makes them suitable for vegetarians and their low glycemic index, which allows them to be also use in case of diabetes.

Lupins: calories and nutritional values

The calories of lupins are 114 per 100 grams of edible part and, like all legumes, they have a fairly high quantity of plant-based proteins and a decidedly low fat content. This characteristic allows us to recognize lupine as a food suitable for all those who wish to improve their lipid profile (for example in the case of high cholesterol).

Furthermore, they are very rich in fiber and, as already mentioned, have a decidedly low glycemic index. Very suitable, therefore, even in case of hyperglycemia and diabetes! As if that weren’t enough, lupins also contain a good amount of different vitamins (especially of group B) and mineral salts. Let’s see together in the table below the nutritional values ​​of lupins and discover their properties.

Nutritional values ​​per 100g of lupins (edible part: 76%):

  • Waterfall: 69 g
  • kcal: 114
  • Proteins: 16.4 g
  • Carbohydrates: 7.2 g
  • of which sugars: 0.5 g
  • Fibers: 4.8 g
  • Fat: 2.4 g
  • Sodium: 5 mg
  • Potassium: 351 mg
  • Phosphorus: 100 mg
  • Soccer: 45 mg
  • Zinc: 1.6 mg
  • Iron: 5.5 mg
  • C vitamin: 2 mg
  • Thiamine: 0.10 mg
  • Riboflavin: 0.01 mg
  • Vitamin B6: 0.12 mg
  • Glycemic index: 15
  • Cholesterol: 0 g

Lupins: nutritional properties

The properties of lupins in the food sector are numerous. First of all, as we have seen, they are a very valid source of protein, but extremely well represented are also phosphorus and potassium and, above all, iron and zinc (nutrients, we emphasize, which may be more deficient in a non-vegetarian diet. controlled) as in 100 gr of product we can find respectively about 30-50% and 20% of the daily recommended quantity.

Among the vitamins we find fair amounts of vitamins B1 and B6 : 100 grams of lupins contain about 10% of the recommended daily dose for an adult man. Let’s see together what are the properties of these very important nutrients.

  • Potassium: lupins are fairly rich in this mineral and contain 351 mg per 100 grams. Potassium is part of various physiological processes including muscle contraction, the maintenance of a correct hydro-saline balance and the regulation of blood pressure. In addition, potassium has a diuretic action;
  • Vitamin B1: lupins contain good quantities of this vitamin, involved in metabolism as a coenzyme, its deficiency leads to alterations in metabolic processes, alterations in the nervous, cardiovascular and gastrointestinal systems;
  • Vitamin B6: another water-soluble vitamin present in lupins, the deficiency of which is linked to dysfunctions of the nervous system. It is necessary for the synthesis of serotonin (or hormone of good mood) and is therefore also useful in case of depressive disorders;
  • Phosphorus: lupins have a good amount of phosphorus, a mineral essential for the energy metabolism of cells and for the construction of proteins;
  • Iron: as we have seen, lupins (as well as other legumes) are a valid source of iron, a macronutrient which is part of two fundamental proteins for the transport of oxygen: hemoglobin and myoglobin;
  • Zinc: lupins contain excellent amounts of zinc, an important mineral for the proper functioning of the immune system and for the maturation of the gonads.

Finally, we would like to underline that lupins also contain a small amount of polyunsaturated fatty acids and in particular linolenic acid (omega 3) and linoleic acid (omega 6) for a total of 0.6 gr of polyunsaturated fatty acids in 100 gr. of product.

Small legumes with a yellow-green color, lupins, often used as snacks for their satiating capacity, are useful in humans to improve cardiovascular health, glucose metabolism and strengthen the immune system.

Lupins: Health Benefits

The excellent nutritional profile gives lupins useful properties to support health from many points of view. As we have already seen, their consumption can be suggested in the case of a vegetarian diet, in addition to the consumption of cereals, in order to make a correct protein intake. Furthermore, the consumption of legumes in general and of lupins in our specific case is useful for improving our cardio-metabolic profile: let’s see together all the benefits of lupins and the scientific evidence.

✓ Lower cholesterol

Lupins offer benefits to the heart and, more generally, to the entire cardiovascular system. Several studies conclude that regular consumption of lupins is associated with a lower risk of hypercholesterolemia and an improvement in the LDL / HDL cholesterol ratio. For example, in a study conducted on 33 people presented with a condition of hypercholesterolemia who was administered an acceptable dose of lupine protein (25 grams per day) it was shown that, even with moderate doses of these legumes, it could occur, after 4 weeks of diet, an increase in the HDL cholesterol value, a decrease in the LDL cholesterol value and an improvement in blood pressure. In fact, the authors of the study concluded that the use of lupins in the diet could be useful for improving cardiovascular health, especially in individuals with hypercholesterolemia.

✓ Useful in case of diabetes

As with all legumes, the consumption of lupins is also useful in case of diabetes as it is associated with better glycemic control. Lupins, in fact, we have seen to be very rich in fiber and have a decidedly low glycemic index. Several studies have confirmed that lupine consumption is associated with improved postprandial blood sugar and insulin. In one particular study, a dozen young women and men were fed carbohydrate-rich meals and whey protein or lupine supplementation. The results of this survey showed that the supplements chosen positively modified the post-prandial glycemic response andmore consistently in the case of integration with lupins.

✓ Weight improvement and satiety prolongation

Although not all studies agree on the property of lupins to stimulate weight loss and fat mass, the consumption of these legumes is associated with a prolonged sense of satiety which can therefore be related to a lower caloric intake in the case of slimming diets. Specifically, the presence of a moderate amount of fiber and protein and a small amount of calories make this food particularly satiating and suitable for slimming diets. There are also several lupine-based snacks on the market, to be used as a snack for young and old. Such a hunger-breakerit will allow us to arrive at dinner without a particular appetite and not feel the need to “nibble” something.

✓ Lupins and tumor pathologies

Recent studies have shown that regular consumption of legumes is associated with a lower risk of certain cancers, such as prostate, bowel and colorectal cancer. In particular, some studies have evaluated the activity of the falvonoid ginestein, present in broom, soy and also in lupins, against some cancer cells and in a study conducted on some ovarian cancer cells it has been shown the ability of gynestein to inhibit after 24 or 48 hours the proliferation of cancer cells.

✓ Lupins and intestinal benefits

The properties of lupins also extend to the digestive system. Like all other legumes, in fact, they act as a prebiotic in the intestine, that is, stimulating the growth of beneficial bacteria that populate our colon. The importance of taking care of the balance of our microbiota has been known for some time and is associated with the improvement of the general state of health. In fact, a condition of dysbiosis linked to an alteration of the microbiota is linked to an increased risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, tumors, obesity and some dermatological diseases such as psoriasis. On the other hand, the consumption of legumes (and therefore of lupins) is considered useful since they can serve as prebioticsthat is, as a source of nourishment for the microorganisms present in our body. Furthermore, consuming lupins regularly helps intestinal regularity.

✓ Lower blood pressure

Consumption of lupins has been associated with an improvement in blood pressure and vascular capacity. In this study, in particular, the consumption of lupins was compared with the consumption of soy, whose hypotensive effect has already been documented by numerous researches. The study was carried out on diabetic mice and the consumption of lupins led to a normalization of blood pressure probably thanks to the improvement of vascular endothelial function. Finally we want to underline that the effect obtained in this study with lupins was greater than the effect obtained through the consumption of soy.

✓ Strengthen the immune system

Lupins contain, in addition to other minerals and vitamins, also a fair amount of zinc. This mineral is essential for the proper functioning of the immune system. The antioxidant and immunomodulating activity of lupins, capable of activating macrophages to produce NO and TNFalpha, was also confirmed.

✓ Antifungal effect

The antifungal capacity of lupins has also recently been investigated. In particular, in this food there is a polypeptide called Blad and part of a protein called BCO. This protein has shown a powerful broad-spectrum fungicidal activity, even against fungi such as candida albicans, with no apparent side effects in humans.

✓ Lupins and bioremediation

While this is not a direct health benefit, this particular property of lupins is also worth mentioning. One of the biggest problems of our time is related to soils, which are often overused and contaminated with heavy metals. The accumulation of heavy metals in soils is a problem of global concern since these can then concentrate in crops and become a problem for human health. A study has shown that the winter cultivation of lupines in soils such as those just described allowed to improve the soil for subsequent cultivation in the summer months and in particular led to a decrease in heavy metals in the soil (which accumulated in the lupine) and to an enrichment minerals useful for the growth of the plant.

How many lupins to eat

The same rules apply to lupins as for other legumes, therefore, a portion is equivalent to 50 grams of dried lupins or 150 grams of canned lupins (in any case they must be weighed raw). These legumes can be brought to the table several times a week, possibly alternating with other legumes. These values ​​also apply to pickled lupins sold as snacks. In this case, however, the main problem could be the excessive presence of salt, especially in hypertensive subjects or with other heart diseases.

Lupins: some usage tips

If you have ready-made lupins, you can indulge yourself with the recipes: these legumes lend themselves very well to the preparation of vegetable meatballs, possibly with the addition of millet or other cereals and some vegetables. Or you can prepare excellent soups, or insert them in cold salads based on vegetables or cereals. Once cooked, lupins can be eaten whole or blended or added to soups.

In addition to being added to more complex preparations, these legumes are well suited to be consumed as snacks during “homemade” aperitifs. You can then keep them in brine and in your refrigerator for a few weeks, or freeze them for reuse in the future. There is also flour (obtained from dried ground lupins), which can be used in the kitchen in combination with other flours, generally to the extent of 10-20%.

How to prepare lupins at home

Like all legumes, lupins can also be purchased both dry and pre-cooked. If you have decided to buy dried lupins, you must follow a particular preparation before you can consume them.

First of all, it is necessary to leave them to soak for several hours (generally overnight and not less than 12 hours). Soaking is used to deactivate the antinutrients naturally present in lupins (albeit to a lesser extent than other legumes) and which could interfere with the absorption of other nutrients present in the product itself. During the hours of soaking, we recommend that you also change the soaking water at least a couple of times, to remove these substances.

After this procedure it is necessary to cook the lupins: in this regard we advise you to boil them in plenty of water for about 1 hour. Once cooked, the lupins must be ” deamarised ” and in this regard, a further soak in water and salt is necessary (for 500 grams of lupins about 1 liter of water with 50 grams of salt) for a duration of 5 days. During these days the water must be changed twice a day.

Once this procedure is also finished, the lupins will be ready to taste and can also be preserved in brine. If the taste is too bitter, it means that the preparation process is incomplete. These same pickled lupins are often sold ready-made in supermarkets: for those of you who do not want to follow the procedure described above, but would like to try some lupine-based recipes, this is the right solution!

Lupins: Contraindications and Potential Negative Effects

We have told you so far about the many properties of lupins, however we also want to underline some contraindications to which it is good to pay attention.

Although more digestible than other legumes, lupins can also cause discomfort and create intestinal swelling , especially in the most predisposed subjects: therefore be careful not to overdo it. Furthermore, lupins should not be consumed in case of lupine allergy and can cause problems in case of confirmed peanut, pea, lentil or soy allergy. If you have any of the allergies mentioned, always ask your trusted allergist for advice!

In the case of allergies, symptoms may occur such as: skin rashes, severe abdominal pain, difficulty in breathing and, in severe cases, anaphylactic shock. If, on the other hand, there was an excessive consumption of this food or a wrong processing behind it, other types of complications could arise.

Symptoms of “indigestion” are for example diarrhea and abdominal pain. If the complaints persist for a long time, it is good to call the doctor also to see if there is a risk of an allergic reaction at the beginning. Finally, remember that in case of hypertension it is good to limit the consumption of pickled lupins.


In the past, when the consumption of lupins was much more widespread, the seeds of this plant were also used as a substitute for coffee: lupine coffee, a decidedly more bitter drink than what we are used to consuming!


Leave a Comment