Health benefits of legumes and pulses with a focus on Australian sweet lupins Academic Article uri icon


  • The 68th United Nations General Assembly declared 2016 the International Year of Pulses. Therefore it is timely to review the current evidence of the benefits of legumes for human health with a focus on Australian sweet lupins.Medline, Pubmed, Cochrane library were searched to identify cross-sectional/epidemiological studies, randomised controlled trials (RCTs) and systematic reviews.The strongest evidence appears to be for links between eating legumes and reduced risk of colorectal cancer as well as eating soy foods and reduced LDL cholesterol. However, epidemiological studies and RCTs suggest that replacing several meat-based meals a week with legumes can have a positive impact on longevity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and weight management, potentially via favourable effects on the gut microbiome. Sweet lupins are unique among legumes with one of the highest combined amounts of digestible plant protein (38%) and dietary fibre (30%). Unlike other legumes, their low amount of anti-nutritional factors negates the need for soaking/cooking and they can therefore be eaten uncooked. Sweet lupins may lower blood pressure, improve blood lipids and insulin sensitivity and favourably alter the gut microbiome. There is growing interest in pulses, especially sweet lupins, as ingredients to improve the nutritional value of baked goods (particularly gluten free) and to create novel products to replace meat.Legumes form part of most traditional diets. They, including sweet lupins, can play a useful role in health maintenance.

publication date

  • 2016