Friday, May 18, 2012

More to Lupins Than Meets the Eye-Travel PEI

Every June the Prince Edward Island landscape comes alive with wild lupins. You find them everywhere. At the edges of potato fields, in ditches beside the highway and along the Island’s coastal waterways.

But what Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada chemist Dr. Jason McCallum sees in the blue, pink and purple flowers is a potential health benefit for humans, a source for biopesticides and even biodiesel oil.

McCallum started looking at wild lupins and other plants native to P.E.I. s in 2008 as an exploratory project.
In 2009, he sampled lupins for potential use as a natural food dye.

Further testing showed the flowers and seeds produced by lupins contain beneficial organic compounds called isoflavones.

Other research has shown that consumption of isoflavones may play a role in lowering risk for heart disease, improve bone health and reduce cancer risk by preventing free radical damage to DNA.

The beneficial compounds found in soy, alfalfa and red clover supplements are also found in lupins, but more research is needed as some compounds found in lupin seeds may be harmful.

McCallum is evaluating the quality and level of these beneficial lupin compounds to see if it is feasible to extract them for supplements.

Another reason why scientists are interested is the lupin’s resistance to many insects and fungi.

McCallum is looking at the possibility of growing wild lupins as a biopesticide for use as a farm rotation crop to help control disease.

He is also studying the oil composition in lupin seeds with an eye to increase the oil content in the seed for use as a biodiesel.
McCallum says wild lupins are well adapted to the environment and grow like crazy, why not use them!
For more information and interviews contact:

John Morrison
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Dr. Jason McCallum
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

John Morrison
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada/Agriculture et Agroalimentaire Canada
Telephone/Téléphone: 902-566-7308
Facsimile/Télécopieur: 902-566-7316
440 University Avenue
Charlottetown, PEI
C1A 4N6

Photo: PEI Dept of Tourism

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