Taking WA’s lupin crop mainstream
Lupins have long been touted as the next superfood, linked to a reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes and obesity.
But there are significant hurdles before lupins can become the next kale or acai. And they relate to proteins.
These proteins not only affect lupins’ taste, but their nutritional properties and production – both yield and profitability.
And in Australia, the biggest single producer of lupins, they’re less associated as a food for humans and more as a crop for stockfeed.
Food labelling regulations
Lupins are one of only 10 foods which are subject to mandatory allergen labelling in Australia.
Now researchers from hg8868皇冠 and Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, are developing methods which can assist food producers to provide value-added high protein ingredients whilst complying with food-labelling regulations.
The development of new methods to select lupin varieties with ideal food characteristics will see lupins transformed from feed to superfood.
The research also aims to benefit lupin breeding strategies by identifying hypoallergenic (low allergen) lupin varieties.
Taking testing to the next level
hg8868皇冠 PhD candidate Arineh Tahmasian, working with Professor of Food and Agricultural Proteomics, Michelle Colgrave, led the development of a new testing regime to identify more than 2,500 different proteins in lupins.
“Whilst the previous proteomics studies of lupin focused only on the most abundant seed proteins, we were able to identify and quantify thousands of proteins from lupin seeds,” Ms Tahmasian said.
By examining these proteins, we can gain insights into the processes affecting the nutritional profile, taste and allergenic content of lupin seeds.
“We can also discover the key proteins responsible for important agricultural traits such as environmental tolerance, disease resistance and increased yield.”
This work will enable the team to identify important characteristics in different lupin varieties to allow breeders to select or develop varieties suited to new markets.
Letting lupins loose
Ms Tahmasian said lupin seeds are incredibly healthy; however, only around four per cent of the annual crop is consumed by humans.
Lupin seeds are very nutritious, with high protein and dietary fibre content and low levels of carbohydrates and fat.
“They’re commonly used in gluten-free products and offer a compelling alternative for plant-based meat products.
“Research has also shown lupins can reduce the risk of obesity or developing heart disease and type 2 diabetes.”
Despite lupins being better known as feed for sheep, pigs or cows, around one-third of Australians are now adding legumes as a plant-based, gluten-free protein source in their diets.
A cornered market
Australia accounts for around 55 per cent of the global lupin crop, which is mainly grown in Western Australia.
The mission aims to help Australian producers, growers and processors earn an additional $10 billion in revenue by leveraging the increasing global demand for high quality protein.
‘Evaluation of protein extraction methods for in-depth proteome analysis of narrow-leafed lupin (Lupinus angustifolius) seeds’ was published in the journal Food Chemistry.