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Updating lupin seed protein research and development
Opportunities to give a boost to a wealthy food protein source for human nutrition


*Corresponding Author
Università degli Studi di Milano, Department of Food, Environmental and Nutritional Sciences (DeFENS), Via G. Celoria 2, 20133 Milan, Italy


Lupin seeds are becoming a real food alternative both as nutritious and healthy whole food and source of nutri- and techno-functional ingredients, especially the protein fraction which is the seed main component. Still, issues related to develop standardized, high-quality and health-promoting lupin ingredients and design new lupin-based food products have to be faced. Moreover, lupin component full potential to the prevention and treatment of many civilization diseases has not thoroughly been investigated yet. Two recent opportunities may contribute making significant steps toward the solution of these problems. One is the proposal of a lupin protein-devoted Horizon-2020 EU project in the frame of ‘Proteins of the future’ call. The other one is the body of activities associated to the 14th edition of the International Lupin Conference to be held in Milan, Italy under the auspices of EXPO-2015. Both initiatives are discussed in their relationships with the most advanced and recent scientific findings in the area.

The growing world population, the crucial need of sustainable crop production strategies, the food security and safety issues, the key role of disease prevention, rather than therapy, all these aspects require dramatic and urgent answers by the institutional bodies and the scientific community. In this respect, one of the emerging problems to be faced concerns the demand for nutrient-rich food sources. Among the nutrients, proteins play a major role for the supply of amino acids, nitrogen and carbon skeletons to the body and for their emerging, and still under investigation, role of metabolism modulators. If many different food and protein sources, including insects, algae, unconventional marine sources, bacteria and unicellular eukaryotes, minor or exotic crops, can in principle be considered, nevertheless consumer acceptance of new and/or improved foods, as well as other factors related to market uptake, require proper consideration, if global food security together with environmental and socio-economic sustainability is to be ensured.
For these and other reasons, lupin seeds represent a real food alternative, both as nutritious an ...