What is Lupin and Why it’s Showing up in the Allergy Disclaimer

January 14, 2015

Have you seen this nutritious legume show up on the allergy disclaimer lately? Find out what lupin is and if you need to avoid it here.

What is Lupin?
Lupin (sometimes: lupine) is a legume from the same plant family as peanuts. Lupini beans are traditionally eaten as a pickled snack food. Lupin is a food staple for many Mediterranean countries and Latin cultures, but is relatively new to the US market. It can be found in the form of lupini beans at Italian and other ethnic specialty stores, as well as in packaged food products.

Lupin beans are one of the highest sources of plant proteins, roughly four times higher than whole grain wheat. They are high in fiber and rich in vitamins and minerals that are highly bioavailable. Lupin also acts as a prebiotic promoting the growth of good bacteria and has a low glycemic rating.

Why have you (most likely) never heard of lupin until now?
Until recently virtually all of the grain has been sold for use in intensive animal industries. But today, lupin is likely to become more popular, especially because lupin-derived ingredients are good substitutes for gluten-containing flours and are frequently being used in gluten-free products.

Lupin is a potential allergen for some people. As with most food allergens, people can develop an allergy to lupin over time. “For many people, eating lupin or a lupin-derived ingredient, such as a flour, is safe,” says Stefano Luccioli, M.D., a senior medical advisor at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  Studies show that people who are allergic to peanuts, in particular, appear to have a greater chance of being allergic to lupin. “While many parents know to look for and avoid peanut ingredients in the diet of their peanut-allergic child, they may have no idea what lupin is or whether it is an ingredient that could cause their child harm,” Luccioli says. Reactions can include anaphylaxis, which is life-threatening and can occur very quickly.

Read the Label
The law requires that food labels list the product’s ingredients. When lupin is present in a food, it is required to be listed on the label: look for “lupin” or “lupine.”

Click here for more from the FDA.

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