Physicians' Academy for Cardiovascular Education

Frequent consumption of legumes associated with lower risk of diabetes

Legume consumption is inversely associated with type 2 diabetes incidence in adults: A prospective assessment from the PREDIMED study

Literature - Becerra-Tomás N, Díaz-López A, Rosique-Esteban N, et al. - Clin Nutr. 2017; published online ahead of print


Legumes are protein- and fibre-rich foods with a low glycaemic index. They are recommended by guidelines in diabetic diets, due to their beneficial effects on glycaemic control and adiposity [1-4]. However, studies evaluating these associations show inconsistent results and the independent association between non-soy legume intake and type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) has not been adequately studied [5,6].

In this study, the associations between the consumption of total non-soy legumes and its different subtypes (dry beans, chickpeas, lentils and fresh peas) and the risk of T2DM development were evaluated in a Mediterranean population at high cardiovascular risk. Moreover, the effect the substitution of other protein- and carbohydrate-rich foods by legumes was assessed. For this, data from the Spanish PREDIMED (PREvención con DIeta MEDiterránea) trial (2003-2010) were used, including 3349 non-diabetic participants at baseline of whom 266 developed T2DM within the 4.3 years of follow-up.

Main results


In a Mediterranean population at high CV risk, the frequent consumption of legumes and particularly lentils was associated with a lower risk of T2DM. The substitution other protein- or carbohydrate-rich foods by legumes was also associated with a lower risk of T2DM. These findings support the increased consumption of legumes for the prevention of T2DM.


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