Lupini beans are the seeds of the Lupinus albus, a plant belonging to the Leguminous family. It grows up to one meter tall and has palmate leaves. This legume has been widely known and used since ancient times in the Mediterranean basin and the Middle East.
In times of famine, children would go around with their pockets full of lupini beans to eat, leaving a trail of peels. Today, it is more than a food. We find this peculiar legume as a pastime at village festivals and fairs in Italy, where they are sold in stalls.
This legume has been cultivated for different purposes throughout the centuries. Some are to improve the soil for grazing, as a nutritious food and for its therapeutic properties. Archaeologists have found these seeds in the Egyptian and Mayan pyramids. The first crops can be traced back to about 4000 years ago, both in the Mediterranean and in the Andean region of South America.
Lupins are composed of 10% water, 40% carbohydrates, 38% proteins and 3.2% ashes, with the remaining percentage made up of fats.
They contain zinc, which promotes immune function. Manganese, which neutralizes free radicals and prevents cell damage. Copper, selenium, magnesium, help keeping bone density perfect and protects muscle support. Other nutrients are calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and iron, as well as vitamin A, B vitamins and vitamin C.
The presence of amino acids such as glutamic acid and aspartic acid is also very high. Lupines contain arginine, beneficial on endothelial function, improving the performance of blood vessels. Thiamin (vitamin B1), essential for the metabolism of carbohydrates and fats, helping to keep the nervous system healthy. And lastly, folic acid (vitamin B9), which helps the body to metabolize proteins and controls the activity of genes.
These legumes are an excellent alternative to animal proteins, providing a remarkable contribution. In fact, the proteins present in them are 38 gr. to every 100 gr. of protein, a quantity comparable to that of meat and superior to that of eggs.
They are easy to digest, prevent hypertension, reduce the levels of bad cholesterol and increase the good one thanks to their omega 3s. They contain tocopherol, which helps to prevent type 2 diabetes and colon cancer. And also the protein conglutin, found in the seeds, that helps to fight the accumulation of glucose in the blood, mimicking the action of insulin.
Their fibers exert also an essential function. It accelerates the intestinal transit, contrast constipation, give a sense of satiety. They are helping in weight loss in a low-calorie and balanced diet.
Lupini beans contain 116 kcal per 100 gr. of product. They contain two basic alkaloid substances, the lupaina and the lupine, that are very bitter and toxic if ingested in high quantities. For this reason, in order to eliminate them, they need to be soaked for 3-4 days and then boiled for 20 minutes. (Lupinus in Greek means “bitter taste”).
You can enjoy this tasty snack as is, or salted like they do in Italy.