Legumes Linked to 35% Reduced Risk of Diabetes

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Legumes Linked to 35% Reduced Risk of Diabetes

COULD LEGUMES, such as peanuts and soybeans, help combat the world's growing diabetes epidemic? A new study of the dietary habits of more than 64,000 Chinese women finds that those who consumed the most legumes significantly reduced their risk of developing type-2 diabetes.

Previous evidence had suggested that a diet high in legumes might be beneficial in preventing type-2 diabetes, noted lead author Raquel Villegas, PhD, of Vanderbilt University's Epidemiology Center. But data on this possible connection was limited.

So the Vanderbilt researchers, working with scientists from the Shanghai Cancer Institute, looked at data from the Shanghai Women's Health Study on 64,227 middle-aged Chinese women with no previous history of diabetes, cancer or heart disease. The women's diets were assessed using questionnaires, and their health was tracked for an average of 4.6 years. Results were published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

The study found an inverse relationship between legume consumption and incidence of developing type-2 diabetes — the more legumes the women ate, the less their risk. Researchers looked at consumption of soybeans, peanuts and other legumes. Overall, the one-fifth of the women eating the most legumes of all types was 35% less likely to develop diabetes than the group consuming the least. The legumes linked with the greatest risk reduction were soybeans: Women consuming the most soybeans were 47% less likely to develop diabetes than those eating the least.
Except for soy milk, however, consumption of other soy products and soy protein was not significantly associated with reduced risk.

Because this was an epidemiological study, it couldn't prove a cause-effect relationship between legume consumption and diabetes risk. The focus on Chinese women also may limit how much the findings can be generalized to other populations.

But given the other health benefits of legumes, it can't hurt to consider giving them a bigger place on your plate. Legumes deliver protein without the high levels of saturated fat found in meats, and they're good sources of potassium, folate, magnesium and iron. (If peanuts are your preferred legumes, however, watch out for the added salt.)
TO LEARN MORE: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, January 2008; abstract at .

The Edible Edamame

What's green and crunchy and good for you, but looks like a typo? "Edamame," pronounced "ayduh-MAH-may," is the Japanese word for green soybeans, harvested just before they begin to harden. The word means "beans on branches," after the way the soybeans grow in clusters on bushy twigs. To preserve freshness and flavor, edamame is typically parboiled and then quick-frozen. A source of protein in East Asia for millennia, edamame can be eaten as a vegetable dish, used in soups or salads, added to rice or pasta, or simply crunched as a snack, the seeds popped from the pods right into your mouth.

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