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Lupin Flour Review

May 30, 2013 Written by JP       [Font too small?]

Sometimes solutions for modern day problems can be found be revisiting the past. For instance, the Incan and Roman empires were both well acquainted with an ancient food source collectively known as lupins. In North America, Native Americans also utilized lupin kernels as a traditional ingredient. Today, lupin based products are enjoying a resurgence because they supply certain dietary components which may be useful in managing diabetes, heart disease and obesity. What’s more, the spotlight on lupins has expanded beyond theoretical benefits. Over the past few decades, researchers have decided to scientifically test the health effects of lupin flour in various at-risk populations.

Lupin kernel flour (LKF), derived from the endosperm of “Australian sweet lupin”, is compromised of approximately 40-45% protein and 25-30% fiber. Testing reveals it contains only a small amount of starch and sugar and, therefore, boasts a low glycemic index. Typically, lupin flour is included as but one ingredient in baked items. The primary purpose it’s used is to fortify foods lacking in nutrition, such as white bread. What’s more, the addition of LKF to refined baked goods tends to lower the overall glycemic index of the final product. Foods bearing a lower glycemic index mitigate dramatic fluctuations in blood sugar and tend to support satiety.

A few surprises emerged during my lupin investigation. Firstly, the benefits of LKF have been wildly inconsistent. Some studies report small, but meaningful, improvements in risk factors, including high blood pressure. However, other trials fail to find any significant changes in body composition, lipid levels and vascular function. It’s important to note that the majority of the studies required the ingestion of a relatively large amount of lupin flour on a daily basis. In a real world setting, this would demand a serious commitment and seeking out specialty products. That’s all good and well, if the proposed health effects warrant such dedication. At this point, I think that has been far from adequately established in the medical literature. I also came across one troubling study which revealed an unexpected finding. In it, white bread that included LKF, raised the insulinaemic index of the resulting bread – as compared to conventional white bread. Foods that stimulate insulin production have been linked to increased appetite and metabolic syndrome.

My advice for anyone considering lupin flour is to start slowly. There have been numerous reports about allergic reactions, especially in individuals who are already allergic or sensitive to other legumes such as peanuts. On the other hand, if you respond well to LKF, there’s little reason to avoid it. Preliminary research indicates that it provides a digestible source of protein that is equivalent to soy and absorbable, essential minerals including zinc. For those who plan to use lupin on a daily basis, I suggest monitoring fasting insulin, hemoglobin A1c and triglyceride/HDL ratio for any signs of unwanted changes. If your anecdotal experience and blood work turn up positive, then lupin flour may indeed be a healthy adjunct to your diet.

Note: Please check out the “Comments & Updates” section of this blog – at the bottom of the page. You can find the latest research about this topic there!

To learn more about the studies referenced in today’s column, please click on the following links:

Study 1 - Effects of Lupin-Enriched Foods on Body Composition & Cardiovascular (link)

Study 2 - The Effects of a Lupin-Enriched Diet on Oxidative Stress and Factors (link)

Study 3 - Effects of Increasing Dietary Protein & Fibre Intake w/ Lupin on Body (link)

Study 4 – Effects of Lupin Kernel Flour-Enriched Bread on Blood Pressure (link)

Study 5 - Lupin-Enriched Bread Increases Satiety and Reduces Energy Intake … (link)

Study 6 - Lupin and Soya Reduce Glycaemia Acutely in Type 2 Diabetes (link)

Study 7 - Sweet Lupin – A New Food Allergen (link)

Study 8 – Sensitization to Lupine Flour: Is it Clinically Relevant? (link)

Study 9 - The Bioavailability and Postprandial Utilisation of Sweet Lupin (Lupinus (link)

Study 10 - Absorption of Zinc from Lupin (Lupinus Angustifolius)-Based Foods (link)

Lupin Flour Enrichment May Promote Satiation

Source: Am J Clin Nutr. 2006 Nov;84(5):975-80. (link)

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Posted in Diabetes, Diet and Weight Loss, Heart Health

6 Comments & Updates to “Lupin Flour Review”

  1. JD Says:

    Thanks for these article you keep churning out, JP.
    Of course, as usual, I started searching/surfing around- this time for lupin- lupins.org came up which has some great info. But I’m sure you’ve already been there!

  2. JP Says:

    Hi JD,

    I did come across the site. It’s an industry-sponsored site, but seems responsibly produced. However, I chose to base my analysis primarily on peer-reviewed, published (human) studies. IMO, this is a more reliable source of data – though, certainly not without it’s own flaws.

    Be well!


  3. JP Says:

    Lupin flour update:


    J Nutr. 2014 May;144(5):599-607. doi: 10.3945/jn.113.186858.

    The formation of short-chain fatty acids is positively associated with the blood lipid-lowering effect of lupin kernel fiber in moderately hypercholesterolemic adults.

    Fechner A1, Kiehntopf M, Jahreis G.

    Lupin kernel fiber beneficially modifies blood lipids because of its bile acid-binding capacity. The aim of this study was to evaluate the preventive effects of a lupin kernel fiber preparation on cardiovascular diseases and to clarify possible mechanisms. In a randomized, double-blind, controlled crossover trial, 60 moderately hypercholesterolemic adults (plasma total cholesterol: >5.2 mmol/L) passed 3 intervention periods in different orders with a 2-wk washout phase between each. Participants consumed either a high-fiber diet containing 25-g/d lupin kernel fiber (LF) or citrus fiber (CF), or a low-fiber control diet (CD) for 4 wk each. Anthropometric, plasma, and fecal variables were assessed at baseline and after the interventions. Contrary to the CF period, total (9%) and LDL (12%) cholesterol as well as triacylglycerols (10%) were lower after the LF period when compared with the CD period [P ≤ 0.02, adjusted for baseline, age, gender, and body mass index (BMI)]. HDL cholesterol remained unchanged. Moreover, the LF period reduced high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (P = 0.02) and systolic blood pressure (P = 0.01) when compared with baseline. Bile acid binding could not be shown because the excretion of total bile acids remained constant after the high-fiber diets. However, the LF period resulted in an enhanced formation of the main short-chain fatty acids in comparison with the CD period. During the CF period, only acetate increased significantly. Both high-fiber diets led to higher satiety and modified nutritional behavior, resulting in significantly lower body weight, BMI, and waist circumference compared with the CD period. The blood lipid-lowering effects of LF are apparently not a result of bile acid binding. Rather, we hypothesize for the first time, to our knowledge, that the blood lipid-lowering effects of LF may be mainly attributed to the formation of short-chain fatty acids, specifically propionate and acetate.

    Be well!


  4. JP Says:

    Update: The latest review about the potential of lupin flour …


    Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2015 Feb 12:0.

    Nutritional, Health and Technological Functionality of Lupin Flour Addition to Bread and Other Baked Products: Benefits and Challenges.

    Lupin is an undervalued legume despite its high protein and dietary fiber content and potential health benefits. This review focuses on the nutritional value, health benefits and technological effects of incorporating lupin flour into wheat-based bread. Results of clinical studies suggest that consuming lupin compared to wheat bread and other baked products reduce chronic disease risk markers; possibly due to increased protein and dietary fiber and bioactive compounds. However, lupin protein allergy has also been recorded. Bread quality has been improved when 10% lupin flour is substituted for refined wheat flour; possibly due to lupin-wheat protein cross-linking assisting bread volume and the high water binding capacity (WBC) of lupin fiber delaying staling. Above 10% substitution appears to reduce bread quality due to lupin proteins low-elasticity and the high WBC of its dietary fiber interrupting gluten network development. Gaps in understanding of the role of lupin flour in bread quality include the optimal formulation and processing conditions to maximize lupin incorporation, role of protein cross-linking, anti-staling functionality and stability, and bioactivity of γ- conglutin peptide.

    Be well!


  5. JP Says:

    Update 07/14/15:


    Int Arch Allergy Immunol. 2015;166(1):63-70.

    IgE sensitization to lupine in bakers – cross-reactivity or co-sensitization to wheat flour?

    BACKGROUND: Food allergy to lupine has frequently been reported in patients allergic to peanut or soy, and cross-reactivity between these legumes is known. Moreover, respiratory allergy to lupine has been described after inhalation, mostly at workplaces. Our aim was to study the frequency of lupine sensitization in European bakers with suspected bakers’ allergy. Furthermore, associations between sensitizations to lupine and other plant allergens were investigated.

    METHODS: One hundred and sixteen bakers with work-related allergic symptoms but without known food allergies were examined. Specific IgE (sIgE) antibodies to wheat flour, rye flour, lupine, peanut, soy and the recombinant single birch protein rBet v 1 were quantified. Selected sera were tested for cross-reactivity using ImmunoCAP inhibition and ISAC microarrays.

    RESULTS: Whereas 67% of bakers were sensitized to wheat and/or rye flour, 35% showed sIgE to peanut and 33% to lupine. All lupine-positive bakers also had sIgE to either wheat flour (89%) and/or peanut (92%), and lupine sIgE correlated significantly with sIgE to peanut, soy, wheat and rye flour. Used as an inhibitor, wheat flour inhibited IgE binding to lupine in 4 out of 8 sera, indicating cross-reactivity. In microarrays, these sera showed IgE binding to lipid transfer proteins, profilins and/or cross-reactive carbohydrate determinants. Further inhibition experiments suggest that these single allergens are involved in cross-reactivity.

    CONCLUSION: One third of 116 symptomatic bakers showed sIgE to lupine. At least some of these sensitizations were based on cross-reactivity between lupine and wheat flour. However, the considerable sensitization rate could also be a sign that the use of lupine flour in bakeries may be of occupational relevance.

    Be well!


  6. JP Says:

    Updated 05/07/17:


    Front Physiol. 2017 Apr 10;8:198.

    Short-Term Effects of Lupin vs. Whey Supplementation on Glucose and Insulin Responses to a Standardized Meal in a Randomized Cross-Over Trial.

    Background: Whey protein is known to reduce postprandial glycaemia in people with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Lupin as a vegetable source of protein could be considered as an alternative, as the percentage of vegetarian and vegan consumers is raising. The present study compares the acute glycemic effects of whey and lupin in healthy volunteers following a carbohydrate-rich reference meal. Methods In cross-over design, three standardized meals (reference meal; reference meal + whey; reference meal + lupin) were provided to 12 healthy male and female volunteers, aged between 23 and 33, in a balanced, randomized order. Volunteers’ blood glucose and insulin concentrations were analyzed at baseline and at seven time points following the ingestion of the meals. Results: The supplementation of whey or lupin significantly blunted the postprandial increase in blood glucose concentrations compared to the reference meal (p < 0.001). In the overall statistical analysis, this effect was comparable for whey and lupin [Δ AUC whey-lupin = 8%, 0-60 min area under the curve (0-60 min AUC), p = 0.937], with a blunting effect of -46% by whey (p = 0.005, 0-60 min AUC) and of -54% by lupin (p < 0.001, 0-60 min AUC). When comparing whey and lupin data only, the insulin increase was found to be more pronounced for whey protein than for lupin supplementation (Δ AUC whey-lupin = 39%, 0-60 min AUC, p = 0.022). However, when comparing the insulin response of each supplementation to the one of the reference meal, no differences could be detected (whey p = 0.259, 0-60 min AUC; lupin p = 0.275, 0-60 min AUC). Conclusions: Results suggest that lupin and whey can both lower the increase of postprandial blood glucose concentrations to a comparable extent, implying the usability of lupin to reduce postprandial glycaemia. However, the insulin response following the supplementations to a carbohydrate-rich meal seems to differ for these two protein sources.

    Be well!


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