7

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Legumes: the most important dietary predictor of survival?

Asked on March 06, 2017
Created December 12, 2012 at 1:22 AM

I recently came across this study titled "Legumes: the most important dietary predictor of survival in older people of different ethnicities". It was published in the Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Here is the abstract:

To identify protective dietary predictors amongst long-lived elderly people (N= 785), the "Food Habits in Later Life "(FHILL) study was undertaken among five cohorts in Japan, Sweden, Greece and Australia. Between 1988 and 1991, baseline data on food intakes were collected. There were 785 participants aged 70 and over that were followed up to seven years. Based on an alternative Cox Proportional Hazard model adjusted to age at enrollment (in 5-year intervals), gender and smoking, the legume food group showed 7-8% reduction in mortality hazard ratio for every 20g increase in daily intake with or without controlling for ethnicity (RR 0.92; 95% CI 0.85-0.99 and RR 0.93; 95% CI 0.87-0.99, respectively). Other food groups were not found to be consistently significant in predicting survival amongst the FHILL cohorts.

And here is the study's conclusion:

The FHILL longitudinal study shows that a higher legume intake is the most protective dietary predictor of survival amongst the elderly, regardless of their ethnicity. The significance of legumes persisted even after controlling for age at enrolment (in 5-year intervals), gender, and smoking. Legumes have been associated with long-lived food cultures such as the Japanese (soy, tofu, natto, miso), the Swedes (brown beans, peas), and the Mediterranean people (lentils, chickpeas, white beans).

Link to Study - http://www.healthyeatingclub.com/info/articles/diets-foods/Darmadi.pdf

In light of this, how can legumes be considered such a bad food?

4e40d2b9e1a762949a25b958762aa10d

(762)

on December 20, 2012
at 01:01 AM

@wendy That's a strawman argument. I never said that it proves anything either way. I pointed out a few things to consider in the study design.

Cb9a270955e2c277a02c4a4b5dad10b5

(10989)

on December 13, 2012
at 02:13 AM

That's what I'm thinking. It makes sense to me that more legumes will coincide with less refined carbs (sugar,wheat) in the general population. So while it looks like legumes are all super great, in fact refined, sugar/flour are just super bad.

A2c38be4c54c91a15071f82f14cac0b3

(12682)

on December 12, 2012
at 11:48 PM

This is sort of what I was thinking, including sugar too. There seem to be a lot of foods with grains+sugar and dairy+sugar, but not so many with legumes and sugar.

Cb9a270955e2c277a02c4a4b5dad10b5

(10989)

on December 12, 2012
at 11:03 PM

Mhmm, you're right, legumes are probably the new super food ;-)

Aa5981f51961f9ded90b15c92d9c3757

(95)

on December 12, 2012
at 08:28 PM

Lentils served with rice isn't exactly uncommon.

Cfdbf3485f0bac5895f86d74afd9fac0

(98)

on December 12, 2012
at 02:53 PM

the study may not prove that legumes are good for you. But doesn't it prove that legumes are not bad for you

96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19413)

on December 12, 2012
at 01:25 PM

I'd be more worried about gluten and gliadin and their equivalents in grains than lectins, though those are fairly bad.

4e40d2b9e1a762949a25b958762aa10d

(762)

on December 12, 2012
at 01:09 PM

Ok, edited for clarity. @Mscott

A2c38be4c54c91a15071f82f14cac0b3

(12682)

on December 12, 2012
at 04:16 AM

To your last bullet: if the CI included one it wouldn't mean there was no effect, it would mean that there was slightly less than a 95% chance that legumes were associated with increased survival, which it would fall just below the generally accepted cutoff for statistical significance.

A2c38be4c54c91a15071f82f14cac0b3

(12682)

on December 12, 2012
at 04:16 AM

To your last bullet: if the CI included one it wouldn't mean there was no effect, it would mean that there was slightly less than a 95% chance that legumes were associated with increased survival, which is the generally accepted cutoff for statistical significance.

9aa4046713d6cd5dbf3220d913a178a0

(159)

on December 12, 2012
at 04:06 AM

If the lectins in legumes are not detrimental to health, then why should they be in grains? We cant assume that all the various ethnicities prepared their beans in a manner which deactivated the anti-nutrients

Fb67dc30cead043d1d13ea503a3044dc

(3280)

on December 12, 2012
at 02:06 AM

They're not bad. A McDonalds shake is bad. Lentils and other legumes just have less-than-optimal characteristics.

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3 Answers

1
Cb9a270955e2c277a02c4a4b5dad10b5

(10989)

on December 12, 2012
at 01:30 PM

Maybe this has something to do with the fact that if your diet includes large amounts of legumes then you're going to likely have less grains? They're both carbs, and who eats lentils with their bread? Or lentils with their pasta?

Cb9a270955e2c277a02c4a4b5dad10b5

(10989)

on December 12, 2012
at 11:03 PM

Mhmm, you're right, legumes are probably the new super food ;-)

Aa5981f51961f9ded90b15c92d9c3757

(95)

on December 12, 2012
at 08:28 PM

Lentils served with rice isn't exactly uncommon.

Cb9a270955e2c277a02c4a4b5dad10b5

(10989)

on December 13, 2012
at 02:13 AM

That's what I'm thinking. It makes sense to me that more legumes will coincide with less refined carbs (sugar,wheat) in the general population. So while it looks like legumes are all super great, in fact refined, sugar/flour are just super bad.

A2c38be4c54c91a15071f82f14cac0b3

(12682)

on December 12, 2012
at 11:48 PM

This is sort of what I was thinking, including sugar too. There seem to be a lot of foods with grains+sugar and dairy+sugar, but not so many with legumes and sugar.

1
4e40d2b9e1a762949a25b958762aa10d

(762)

on December 12, 2012
at 03:48 AM

There are some important methodological points to consider.

  • Selection bias: They started out with people over 70 and there is no reason to think that that groups has the same spectrum of health and disease as the normal population. (This is a general problem with cohort studies.)
  • Correlation is not causation: This doesn't prove that legumes are good for you. It just says that consuming legumes "is associated with" which doesn't tell you directly about the relationship between legumes and "health". A "dose-response" relationship is meaningless in an observational study such as this.
  • Those confidence intervals nearly include one. Unless they were really careful about always carrying two significant figures in all their calculation the confidence intervals for the relative risks include one. If they included one, it would mean that statistically there is no effect.

Cfdbf3485f0bac5895f86d74afd9fac0

(98)

on December 12, 2012
at 02:53 PM

the study may not prove that legumes are good for you. But doesn't it prove that legumes are not bad for you

4e40d2b9e1a762949a25b958762aa10d

(762)

on December 12, 2012
at 01:09 PM

Ok, edited for clarity. @Mscott

A2c38be4c54c91a15071f82f14cac0b3

(12682)

on December 12, 2012
at 04:16 AM

To your last bullet: if the CI included one it wouldn't mean there was no effect, it would mean that there was slightly less than a 95% chance that legumes were associated with increased survival, which is the generally accepted cutoff for statistical significance.

A2c38be4c54c91a15071f82f14cac0b3

(12682)

on December 12, 2012
at 04:16 AM

To your last bullet: if the CI included one it wouldn't mean there was no effect, it would mean that there was slightly less than a 95% chance that legumes were associated with increased survival, which it would fall just below the generally accepted cutoff for statistical significance.

4e40d2b9e1a762949a25b958762aa10d

(762)

on December 20, 2012
at 01:01 AM

@wendy That's a strawman argument. I never said that it proves anything either way. I pointed out a few things to consider in the study design.

0
5c9fda2bd0018516806bba200a93f6fa

(608)

on December 12, 2012
at 01:26 PM

Who cares about legumes? They make most people fart a lot. Farting a lot ain't fun, but it is funny!

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