Lupine, a little-known legume that has been consumed by mankind for thousands of years. Include it in your diet too.

When we say lupine or lupine, we usually imagine a plant with distinctive purple flowers that can be seen in gardens and by the roadside.

Few people know that there is also an edible version of it, which we classify as a legume.

It resembles soy in its use.

It was a popular food in ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome.

Why and how should you also include it in your diet?

Follow the footsteps of this half-forgotten plant with us.

What is lupine?

Lupine is the designation of a genus of plants that belong to the leguminous family. For this reason, the Czech name lupine is so widely used. There are almost 200 different types of lupine in nature, and this is linked to the misconception that lupine is primarily the herb with purple, pink or blue grape-shaped flowers that most of us are familiar with.

This is only one species, which is also not very interesting. But this does not apply to other species. From the point of view of consumption, the more important species are white and yellow lupine, which are classified as legumes.

What does lupine look and taste like?

The seeds of white and yellow lupine are mainly consumed as food. The yellow-white seeds are hidden in pods. They resemble beans in shape and size, but are slightly flatter.

Their size is around 1.5 cm. The taste of lupine is slightly sweet, to some people it reminds of nuts. It is mainly consumed in southern Europe, Egypt and South America.

Lupine seeds in palm.

Types of lupine and their uses

The most famous types of lupine include:

  • Lupine (Lupinus albus) – an old cultivated crop that comes from the Eastern Mediterranean, the seeds are mainly consumed as a legume. In addition, flour, vegetable milk and coffee substitute are made from it. It is also used in cosmetics, it supports skin regeneration. Last but not least, it is also used as fodder.

  • Yellow lupin (Lupinus luteus) – originally comes from the western Mediterranean, the yellow seeds are also eaten as a side dish or appetizer, or pickled.

  • Multi-leaved lupine (Lupinus polyphyllus) – originally comes from North America, but has also spread to our territory, where it is considered an invasive species, but it is planted as an ornamental plant in parks and gardens for its beautiful colors. Its seeds contain poisonous alkaloids.

  • Narrow-leaved lupine (lupinus angustifolius) – most often used in agriculture as fodder for farm animals, less often in the food industry for the production of flour.

  • Lupina hispanicus – grows mainly on the Iberian Peninsula.
Flowering plants of white lupins.
source: european-seeds-com

Lupine as a legume or what does lupine contain?

Lupine is very rich in various nutrients. It mainly contains a large amount of protein and fiber, unlike soy, for example, it has a much lower fat content. Lupine does not contain gluten, so it can also be consumed by celiacs. Among the minerals, it stands out above all for its high content of potassium, magnesium, zinc and iron. As for vitamins, it is rich in the whole range of B vitamins.

Nutritional values, vitamins and minerals in lupine

It is interesting to compare raw lupine with other common legumes such as white beans, peas, lentils and soybeans.

100 g
100 g
100 g
White beans 100 g Pea
100 g
100 g
Energy 371 kcal 446 kcal 378 calories 333 calories 81 kcal 352 calories
Water 10.4 g 8.54 g 7.68 g 11.3 g 78.9 g 8.26 g
Carbohydrates 40.4 g 30.2 g 63 g 60.3 g 14.4 g 63.4 mg
Proteins 36.2 g 36.5 g 20.5 g 23.4 g 5.42 g 24.6 mg
Fats 9.74 g 19.9 g 6.05 g 0.85 g 0.4 g 1.06 mg
Fiber 18.9 g 9.3 g 12.2 g 15.2 g 5.7 g 10.7 mg
100 g
100 g
100 g
White beans 100 g Pea
100 g
100 g
Vitamin B1 0.64 mg 0.874 mg 0.477 mg 0.437 mg 0.266 mg 0.873 mg
Vitamin B2 0.22 mg 0.87 mg 0.212 mg 0.146 mg 0.132 mg 0.211 mg
Vitamin B3 2.19 mg 1.62 mg 1.54 mg 0.479 mg 2.09 mg 2.6 mg
Vitamin B5 0.75 mg 0.793 mg 1.59 mg 0.732 mg 0.104 mg 2.14 mg
Vitamin B6 0.357 mg 0.377 mg 0.535 mg 0.318 mg 0.169 mg 0.54 mg
Vitamin C 4.8 mg 6 mg 4 mg 0 mg 40 mg 4.5 mg
Potassium 1010 mg 1800 mg 718 mg 1800 mg 244 mg 677 mg
Phosphorus 440 mg 704 mg 252 mg 301 mg 108 mg 281 mg
Magnesium 198 mg 280 mg 79 mg 190 mg 33 mg 47 mg
Sodium 15 mg 2 mg 24 mg 16 mg 5 mg 6 mg
Calcium 176 mg 277 mg 57 mg 240 mg 25 mg 35 mg
Zinc 4.75 mg 4.89 mg 2.76 mg 3.67 mg 1.24 mg 3.27 mg
Iron 4.36 mg 15.7 mg 4.31 mg 10.4 mg 1.47 mg 6.51 mg

Why include lupine in the diet?

Lupine seeds are full of protein, fiber and have a low oil and starch content, which is why they are often recommended for weight loss, for example. Lupine also contains the amino acid arginine, which helps lower blood pressure, lowers cholesterol, triglycerides and blood sugar levels. Last but not least, it also acts as a prebiotic, improving the health of our intestines.

  • Digestive system and immune system – regular consumption of lupine beans supports gut health and helps prevent constipation, irritable bowel syndrome and other problems related to the digestive system. Thanks to their high fiber content, they are good prebiotics, i.e. substances that nourish the good bacteria in the intestines. Research has also shown a direct link between these healthy bacteria and the state of the immune system.

  • Cardiovascular disease – lupine helps reduce high blood pressure, protein extracts from lupine have been shown to correct vascular endothelial dysfunction. By protecting against hypertension, lupine also reduces the risk of a heart attack or stroke. Eating lupine also reduces high blood sugar and high cholesterol, which are risk factors for heart disease.

  • Protection against anemia – lupine contains a relatively large amount of iron, which helps in the formation of hemoglobin. The content of vitamin C subsequently helps the absorption of iron. Anemia, or anemia, can cause many problems, such as fatigue, shortness of breath, pale skin.

  • Positive effect on the skin – antioxidants contained in lupine help fight against harmful free radicals. Among other things, free radicals can lead to premature aging of the skin associated with the formation of age spots and wrinkles. The vitamins and minerals contained in lupine also nourish the skin and give it a healthy and radiant appearance.

  • Healthy hair – our hair is made up of proteins. The high protein content in lupine beans therefore helps in the formation of a healthy hair structure. Hair is stronger, denser and more durable.

  • Weight reduction – thanks to the high content of fiber and protein, eating lupins makes you feel fuller for a longer time and reduces the feeling of fullness. This is used in many types of reduction diets.

Dandruff and toxicity

The seeds of most varieties of lupine contain alkaloids and amino acids, which in case of long-term consumption in large quantities and in dry form can have a negative effect on our organism. But there are also varieties that do not contain these dangerous substances, or contain only a minimal amount.

This is the case with both white and yellow lupins. Nevertheless, it is recommended to soak the lupine for several hours and cook it as a prevention against the possible content of these poisonous substances. This eliminates any alkaloids and the consumption of lupine treated in this way is completely safe.

How to eat lupine?

Lupine preparation is very simple. Before preparing your own lupins, check them and throw away any damaged seeds. The dried lupine must be soaked before cooking. The general recommendation is for one cup (250 ml) of lupine to use approximately three cups (750 ml) of water.

It is best to soak the lupine overnight, for 12 hours. Then pour out the soaking water and rinse the lupine under running water. This flushes out gas-causing substances. Then cook it gently in a pot of water, depending on the soaking time, the cooking time is around an hour.

Lupine seeds on a plate ready to eat.

Lupins and lupine flour, which is made from them, have similar uses in the kitchen as most legumes.

  • Boiled lupine can easily be used not only as a side dish, but it can be added to various vegetable salads or mixtures, it can also be used in goulash recipes , it can be an interesting alternative to bean goulash.

  • Blended boiled lupine can be flavored with spices and herbs to create a tasty and healthy spread.

  • Lupins can also be easily made into a healthy snack. In this case, it is recommended to soak the lupins for two days, changing the water every day. Then we cook the lupine until soft, rinse it and spread it on a plate. Before serving, drizzle with lemon juice and lightly sprinkle with salt and cumin.

  • You can use lupine flour, for example, in various recipes for pancakes , their advantage will be a slightly nutty taste and gluten-free. In general, it can be said that lupine flour alone is not recommended for baking yeast doughs.

Lupine products

In addition to dried lupine, you can also find a whole range of other lupine products.

Lupine flour is sought after not only for its slightly nutty taste, but also for its nutritional value and gluten-free nature. An interesting feature is its slightly yellow color, which it also adds to dishes. It is used not only for baking, but also for thickening soups, sauces and as one of the ingredients in minced meat dishes.

Lupine coffee – a very popular decaffeinated alternative to classic coffee. These are roasted and ground lupine seeds. The preparation of the drink is very simple, just pour boiling water over the mixture.

Lupine tempeh – it is produced similarly to the better-known soy tempeh, i.e. by fermentation of lupine beans.

Pickled lupine or tremoso – these are seeds pickled in a salty or even sweet pickle, which are then easily used in salads or as a side dish, as they do not require soaking .

With the popularity of healthy food, other products are now appearing, such as lupine pasta or cow’s milk substitutes.

Bowl with lupine flour.

Cultivation of lupine

Lupine is an annual herb from the leguminous family that grows to a height of about one meter. It is characterized by compound petioled leaves, which are usually made of 7-9 egg-shaped leaves.

The reverse side of the leaves is covered with hairs. The inflorescence of all types of lupine is a raceme, which can reach a length of up to 20 cm. Depending on the variety, the flowers are white, yellow, purple, pink or blue. The flowers then form a pod, which contains a small number of seeds, usually around five.

Various species of lupine are found in Europe, North and South America and the Middle East.

The earliest evidence of lupine as a cultivated crop dates back to the 22nd century BC, its seeds were found in the tombs of ancient Egyptian pharaohs. The largest lupine producer today is Australia, followed by Poland and Russia.

Lupine is sometimes grown in the fields not only as a cultural crop, but also as fodder for farm animals, or sometimes it is also plowed into the soil, as it supplies it with a number of necessary nutrients. On the other hand, due to the fact that many types of lupine contain poisonous alkaloids, for example, the multi-leafed lupine, which grows relatively abundantly in the Czech Republic, its eventual consumption can pose a danger to wild animals.

Free-growing multi-leaved lupine.

Lupine as a food of the future

Due to its unpretentiousness, use in food and agriculture, and excellent nutritional values, lupine is often discussed as a possible crop of the future, especially in third world areas. It is thus considered as one of the crops that could help with food shortages in some parts of the world due to the constant growth of the population.

Lupine in the garden

If you decide to grow lupine as an ornamental flower in your garden, you will be pleased not only that its cultivation does not require any specific care, but also that if you remove its spent stems, you can enjoy its flowers all summer long.

It is easiest to grow lupins from seeds, pre-planting is not necessary. You just need to plant the seeds in the flower bed in autumn and next year in June you will be able to enjoy its colorful flowers.

Milan & Ondra

We are both fans of good food and enjoy cooking. On this website, we want to inspire you with traditional, but also less common recipes. We will be happy if you try our recipes and let us know how you liked them. Bon appetite! :)