The Lost Treasure of the Incas isn’t Gold… it’s Legumes

Ancient Andean people may have revered gold to create glittering temples and adorn their leaders, but when it came to fueling the largest empire ever known to the Americas, legumes were key — specifically Andean Lupine seeds. Also known as chocho, tarwi and pearl lupine where it is native to the Andean Highlands in South America, Andean Lupine seeds pack nutritional power worthy of an Incan warrior with its nutrient-dense 50% protein content.

Archeologists have found evidence of cultivated Andean Lupine seeds dating back 5,000 years. Since colonial times, however, the plant has been devalued as a crop. It was derided as “Indian food,” or “poor man’s food,” and consumption shriveled like a bean pod in the sun. Today, advocates for indigenous culture and food sovereignty are working to revive the ultra-nutritious, super-sustainable crop. 

And now, one Ecuadorian company dedicated to healthy lifestyles and plant-based nutrition, AWÁ Nutrition, is using Andean Lupine as a key ingredient in its premium line of plant-based protein smoothie blends to power people with active lifestyles and elite athletes striving for peak performance.

“Foods such as Andean Lupine, which has the highest amount of protein of any legume, and quinoa, which is also native to the Andes region, have long provided highly digestible, plant-based protein sources for people,” says AWÁ Nutrition Founder and CEO Felipe Guevara, whose experience in the food industry includes directing business and brand development for leading companies worldwide. 

“Combined with the benefits of antioxidant-rich super fruits grown in Ecuador and the Andes region, our products match ancestral tradition with today’s consumer’s desire for authentic, plant-based nutrition, fitness and a balanced diet.”

A Plant-based Protein Powerhouse

A natural nutrient powerhouse, Andean Lupine makes other beans, like soybeans, pale in comparison. Andean Lupine is:

º Protein packed — 50% protein — more than three times the protein of quinoa

º Easily digestible — Unlike other legumes, none of the compounds that cause gas and bloating

º Zero net carbohydrates — Paleo friendly

º Low glycemic — Keto friendly

º High fiber — Three times more fiber than oats

º Highly satiating — Helps reduce food cravings and maintain a healthy weight

º Good source of lysine — This essential amino acid is critical for collagen production and healthy skin and bones

º High in antioxidants

º High in iron

Fueling Today’s Indigenous Cultures

After researching the properties of Andean Lupine, the Ecuadorian government developed national policies to promote expanding its cultivation as a way to improve the health and nutritional status of marginalized populations. The crop can be cultivated 7,800-11,400 feet above sea-level, which can make it a critical food source in the mountains, where Ecuadorians with the highest levels of nutritional deficiency live. 

Ecologically, the Andean Lupine is incredibly efficient — and regenerative. By stabilizing atmospheric nitrogen, it enriches the land, making it more productive and profitable to the farmers who grow it. International agencies such as the Sustainable Development Goals Fund created by the United Nations have invested in promoting Andean Lupine cultivation to nourish the bodies and economies of Ecuadorians living in the mountains. The plant also plays an important role in Andean culture. In addition to food, people use its purple flower to dye alpaca and sheep fiber, helping color the vibrant textiles for which the region is well known.

Fueling Active People

In pre-colonial times, Incan women soaked the seeds of Andean Lupine in rivers for up to eight days to remove the alkaloids — bitterly flavored chemical compounds contained in the seeds. This lengthy preparation process was another reason the beans nearly disappeared from dinner plates. However, recent technological advances in processing led by AWÁ Nutrition have made Andean Lupine more readily available.

To deliver a complete essential amino acid profile in its products, AWÁ Nutrition combines Andean Lupine with quinoa and pea protein in a proprietary blend that provides easy-to-digest, complete protein nutrition. The protein blend is then mixed with concentrates of tropical super fruits including naranjilla, golden berry, wild Andean blueberry, passion fruit, bananas, cacao and coconut to create delicious smoothie mixes and single serving packs high in antioxidants, minerals and essential micro-nutrients.

Ideal for meal replacement, breakfast, snack, post-workout recovery or any time you need an energy boost, AWÁ Nutrition supplements are available in two product lines, High Performance and Lifestyle Active, all with healthy protein, carbs, fats (omega 3, 6 and 9) and antioxidants — and no artificial flavors or ingredients. 

Free from gluten, soy, GMO and dairy, all AWÁ Nutrition products are vegan and have no added sugar. Browse products here and experience this Incan nutritional treasure. Andean Lupine is poised to conquer the plant-based food market — and usher in a delicious new era of eating.

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