Lupins: Valuable Source of Protein from Local Cultivation

The seeds of the sweet lupine can be processed into various foods. They contain a similar amount of protein as soybeans – almost 40 percent. This is ideal for vegetarians and vegans.

The high-quality lupine protein contains all the essential amino acids. The seeds are also rich in vitamin E and important trace elements such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, and iron. For vegans and vegetarians, foods made from lupins are a valuable alternative to tofu products made from soy.

Cultivated only in small quantities

So far, however, cultivation has only played a minor role in Germany’s agriculture, mainly in the eastern federal states. The sweet lupine is well suited as a preceding crop for winter cereals. It loosens the soil and enriches it with nitrogen and phosphates – this saves fertilizer. However, many lupine species are susceptible to anthracnose, a fungal disease that causes the plant to wither and wither.

Wild lupins contain toxic alkaloids

The legume, whose seeds look like a cross between corn and beans, naturally contains large amounts of bitter and toxic alkaloids. The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment warns against eating the seeds of wild plants in meadows, railway embankments, and in the garden. Because alkaloids can severely affect our nerves and digestion and cause circulatory problems and respiratory paralysis. Around a hundred years ago, it was possible to extract bitter substances from cultivated plants.

Gluten-free flour and meat substitute made from lupine seeds

The food industry processes sweet lupins into flour, spreads, pasta, protein powder, and even coffee, milk, and meat substitutes. Lupine flour, for example, makes bread dough supple and keeps the goods fresh for longer. It gives the bread a slightly nutty taste and binds the dough well due to its high-fat content. It’s also low in starch and gluten-free. However, you should always mix lupine flour with other flour, otherwise, the baked goods will be too firm. Isolated lupine protein is – pressed into a fibrous mass – processed as a meat substitute. Lupine sausage contains just as much protein as meat sausage, but significantly less purine. This is good for the joints and prevents gout and kidney problems.

Lupine protein as a low-calorie fat substitute

Lupine protein can also replace fat, turning a 40-calorie praline into a low-fat 8-calorie one. Unlike real fat, it cannot carry any flavorings, but it has a similar consistency. That’s why the mouthfeel is as creamy as you know it from high-fat foods. Lupine ice cream, therefore, does not contain any milk or cream.

Peanut allergy sufferers should be careful when eating

But beware: Some people are allergic to lupins. Peanut allergy sufferers should be particularly careful. Lupine is a healthy alternative for all non-allergy sufferers – not only for vegetarians.

Yellow lupins improve the garden soil

As a garden plant, lupins are ideal for perennial beds with their decorative umbels of flowers. Yellow lupins improve harvested soil as green manure. Sown in open areas in late summer or autumn as overseed, they give the garden soil new strength for the next spring, for example, to grow vegetables with high yields. They grow very quickly, cover the ground, loosen the soil with their roots, and can be cut off and worked into the garden soil after just a few weeks.

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