On the keto diet, grain flours are a big no-no because of their high carb content.
That’s why keto dieters choose nut and seed flours instead, which are low in carbs but high in fat and protein.
But there’s a new type of flour available in health food stores made from a legume and just happens to be low in carbs — lupin bean flour!
You may have heard of lupin beans before. They’re those yellowish beans sold in brine and eaten as a snack or in salads.
Well, manufacturers have now come up with a way to turn them into useful flour that we believe doesn't get the recognition it deserves.
Here’s more on this legume-based flour, why it’s so great, and how to use it on a keto diet.
What Is Lupin Flour?
Lupin bean flour is flour made by drying up and finely grinding sweet lupin beans. When fresh, it has a somewhat beanie and bitter taste, but it is almost tasteless once cooked.
But what are lupin beans?
Lupin beans are unique legumes traditionally grown in the Mediterranean basin and Egypt. Newer cultivars grown in Europe have fewer bitter-tasting compounds called alkaloids than their traditional variants — and these are known as sweet lupin beans.
Creating less bitter and more palatable lupin beans has given rise to a range of lupin products over the past couple of decades. Still, lupin products, like lupin flour, are a relatively new thing on the market . Despite being nutritionally similar and allowing markets to rely less on imports, they're still less used than soy- and pea-based ingredients.
An interesting thing about lupin beans is that they contain no starch! Instead, their carbohydrates are mostly indigestible fibers — something rarely seen in a legume. But like most legumes, they’re also high in protein and moderate in fat.
All of this is reason enough to consider lupin products — like lupin bean flour — for your keto diet. But here’s a nutritional breakdown of lupin bean flour in case you need more convincing:
Lupin bean flour nutrition (¼ cup/30g serving):
75 calories | 2g fat | 11g fiber | 12g protein | 1g net carb .
As you can see, the net carb count here is similar to that of most nut flours, but with the added benefit of a significant amount of protein. What’s not to like?
How to Use Lupin Flour
Commercially, lupin flour is used to enhance baked goods and gluten-free products, although only in small amounts .
At home, you can use it in the same way; it’s a great egg substitute in bread, biscuits, pasta, pancakes, and cakes due to its golden yellow hue and high protein content. It even improves the texture, moisture, aroma, and nutrition of baked goods and pasta.
When using lupin bean flour on keto, mix a small amount with nut flours to help enhance the nutritional value of a recipe.
Depending on the recipe, you should replace 10-50% of your usual keto flour weight with lupin flour. But using it on its own can result in dense and overly dry baked goods.
However, and this is important, there are a couple of recipes where lupin bean flour is the main ingredient — like cookies, flatbreads, and homemade pasta. Practice makes perfect here, and working with lupin bean flour is definitely a learning process.
Is Lupin Bean Flour Healthy?
In short — yes! It’s a low-carb, high-fiber, and high-protein ingredient, after all, with many added health benefits. Here’s more on what you get from adding lupin flour to your keto plan:
Protein makes up the building blocks of your body’s tissues and hormones. We also need it in our diets to feel full after a meal; it’s actually proven to be the most satiating of the three macros .
Getting protein both from animal and plant sources is important for health as well, and lupin bean flour can help you with the former.
There are 11g of fiber in a quarter-cup of lupin bean flour. The recommended daily intake of dietary fiber is 19 to 38g per day . Lupin flour can help contribute to your daily fiber needs when you add it to your breakfast pancakes, muffins, or keto bread. Fiber keeps your digestive system healthy and it “feeds” good bacteria in your gut, and healthy gut flora is important for a strong immune system and healthy brain .
Lupin, like many legumes, contains zinc, a trace element that we need for normal immune system functioning and wound healing . Unfortunately, your body absorbs only half of the zinc you consume. But an older study published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that zinc from lupin flour is absorbed in a higher rate than soy flour . Add lupin flour to your diet and your body will get a healthy boost of this essential nutrient.
According to a couple of randomized crossover trials, lupin-enriched bread boosts satiety, which can help you stick to your dietary regime better . Ultimately, this could support weight loss in the long run. The satiating effect of lupin is, of course, is due to its proteins. Lupin proteins are varied and easy to digest, which is often the case with legume proteins and why legumes are so cherished on plant-based diets.
Studies found that protein and fiber from legumes can help lower blood pressure, especially when it comes from plant sources . This effect may have to do with how certain amino acids in protein produce chemicals that dilate blood vessels, for example. A randomized control trial published in 2009 even found this to be the case for lupin bean flour specifically .
Who needs to avoid lupin flour?
One caveat, though: lupin-based products are not for everyone. People with allergies to peanuts, soy, and other legumes may be at risk of having an allergic reaction to lupin as well . If you, or someone in your home, suffer from allergies to legume proteins, it’s a good idea to avoid lupin altogether or undergo allergy testing just in case.
If you’re always on the lookout for new keto-friendly ingredients, consider adding lupin bean flour to your list. This is probably the ONLY legume flour that’s keto-friendly since lupin beans are practically devoid of starch but rich in fiber.
Lupin flour can help add high-quality proteins to your keto bread and baked goods. It’s also great as an egg replacer in pancakes, cakes, muffins, and more. It’s usually added in small amounts, but some recipes call for 100% lupin bean flour.
Lupin bean flour is also a great way to get more protein into your keto desserts (and meals). And there’s lots of evidence that it’s overall good for you providing that you don’t suffer from legume or peanut allergies. Overall, we give lupin bean flour a big thumbs up and say go for it if you can get your hands on a bag!
- Lucas MM, Stoddard FL, Annicchiarico P, et al. The future of lupin as a protein crop in Europe. Front Plant Sci. 2015;6:705. Published 2015 Sep 8. doi:10.3389/fpls.2015.00705
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