Lupins of our lives go back a long time. The Romans spread lupin seeds in their empire. Many of the hundreds of species of the genus Lupinus in the legume family thrive in the Americas. Native Americans in the North and Incas in the South ate some on regular basis. Lupin flowers are also lovely wherever you see them.

Lupins at Lake Tekapo in New Zealand on January 1, 2007. (Credit: Wkipedia Commons)

Researchers from the Fat Institute and the University of Seville delved into the nutritional characteristics of seed proteins of wild populations of Lupinus angustifolius, L. cosentinii, L. gredensis, L. hispanicus, L. luteus, and L. micranthus. Of these Spanish six, the best nutritional properties were identified with L. luteus, L. hispanicus, and L. cosentinii as comparable to other legumes of high quality proteins, such as soybean.

Lupinus angustifolius and Lupinus luteus (Credit: Vioque et al.)

The in vitro protein digestibility showed high in all six wild species, ranging from 82.3% in L. gredensis to 89.0% in L. cosentinii. like that of other legumes. However, it was L. cosentinii that excelled in the most balanced amino acid composition, even though it is deficient in lysine. The researchers emphasize "the importance of studying wild populations of cultivated and non-cultivated Lupinus species as sources of seeds with good nutritional characteristics."

The Old World lupin cultivated since the early times belongs to the Lupinus albus species. This legume is edible if the bitterness is removed with water and salt.

Lupines albus – white lupin (Credit: Wilipedia Commons)


Elena Pastor-Cavada, Rocío Juan, Julio E. Pastor, Manuel Alaiz, and Javier Vioque. "Analytical nutritional characteristics of seed proteins in six wild Lupinus species from Southern Spain". Food Chemistry 117 (3): 466-469, 2009.