REACHING for a packet of chips could be only half as fattening in the future thanks to a legume previously used as feed.
Curtin University researchers have replaced wheat flour with lupin and created chips with 50 per cent less fat.
Professor Vijay Jayasena from Curtin University's School of Public Health said this was a big difference.
"We are not talking about five or 10 per cent, this is significant and there is no increase in cost or difficulty in accessing the product," he said.
Professor Jayasena said lupin chips also had 200 per cent more protein and 400 per cent more dietary fibre than regular chips.
He is one of the researchers who had worked on a project to create this healthier alternative as well as lupin flat breads.
The idea has now been picked up by a manufacturer and the products are set to hit Perth grocery stores in the next three months.
Professor Jayasena said taste tests of the chips found that people could not tell the difference between regular chips and lupin chips.
He said the lupin flat bread proved even more popular than regular flat bread in the blind taste tests.
"I think they preferred the colour, it is more of a yellow colour than brown," Professor Jayasena said.
He said lupin biscuits and breads had already been available for a few years and lupin yoghurt, noodles and pasta products were being worked on.
Professor Jayasena said having a healthier alternative at a comparable price and quality on the market would help parents address obesity in children.
"At the moment, they don't have a choice, there's no real alternative," he said.
Professor Jayasena said the only reason he could see why lupin had not been used in more foods was that in its basic form, it was not that nice to eat.
"Its texture is bland and rubbery on its own," he said
Professor Jayasena said that while it had not yet been determined what caused it, there was something about lupin that gave people a sense of feeling full and more satisfied than other foods.
As well as tackling expanding waist lines, lupin may also be a useful product for developing countries, as it was a low cost grain.
"Compared with soya beans which are $600 a tonne, lupin is about $230 a tonne and better quality in terms of nutritional value," he said.
It also requires less water to produce.