Legume Consumption May Reduce Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

Lauren Santye, Assistant Editor
Published Online: Monday, April 3rd, 2017
Regular consumption of legumes––particularly lentils––may help prevent the development of type 2 diabetes (T2D) in older adults with high cardiovascular risk.
Prior research has shown the beneficial effects that legumes have on adiposity and glycemic control. However, even though it has been suggested that legumes protect against the onset of T2D, little research has been done to test the hypothesis.
In a study published in Clinical Nutrition, investigators sought to examine the associations between consumption of total legumes and specific subtypes and the risk of developing T2D. They also investigated the effect of theoretically substituting legumes for other protein- or carbohydrate-rich foods.
The investigators examined 3349 patients without diabetes at baseline who were included in the PREvención con DIeta MEDiterránea (PREDIMED) study. Dietary information was assessed at baseline and yearly during follow-up. Cox regression models were used to estimate HRs and 95% CIs for T2D incidence according to quartiles of cumulative average consumption of total legumes, lentils, chickpeas, dry beans, and fresh peas.
At a median follow-up of 4.3 years, the results of the study showed 266 new cases of T2D. Patients in the highest quartile of total legume and lentil consumption had a lower risk of diabetes compared with those in the lowest quartile. Additionally, a borderline significant association was found for chickpeas consumption.
Patients who had a higher intake of legumes were 35% less likely to develop T2D than were their counterparts who consumed less legumes. Of all the legumes studies, lentils had the strongest association with a low risk of T2D.
Substitutions of half a serving per day of legumes for similar servings of baked potato, bread, eggs, or rise, was associated with lower risk of diabetes incidence.
“A frequent consumption of legumes, particularly lentils, in the context of a Mediterranean diet, may provide benefits on [T2D] prevention in older adults at high cardiovascular risk,” the authors concluded.”

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