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Issue 14 * 02 March 2024

Can Two Tablespoons of Beans or Legumes Daily Extend Our Lifespan?

Welcome to our first article in a new series on simple steps to healthier ageing, where we explore easy ways to support a vibrant and healthy life. Today, we're focusing on a superfood duo that often doesn't always get the spotlight it deserves: beans and legumes.

Claudia le Feuvre

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Why Eat Beans and Legumes?

Beans and legumes, including chickpeas, lentils, and a variety of beans, are not just a staple in the diets of the longest-living populations in the world, known as the Blue Zones, but they're also backed by science for their heart-healthy benefits. For example, in Costa Rica, a place famed for its high number of centenarians, it was found that consuming beans daily could reduce the risk of having a heart attack by an impressive 38% compared to non-bean eaters.

Further supporting their incredible health benefits, a study titled "Legumes: The Most Important Predictor of Survival in Older People of Different Ethnicities" looked at older adults across diverse regions such as Australia, Greece, Japan, and Sweden. The results were clear: legumes were the only food consistently linked to a longer lifespan, with just 2 tablespoons a day associated with an 8% reduction in mortality risk. This small, daily dose of legumes could be a simple, yet powerful, step towards a longer, healthier life.

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Lentil Masala Soup

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The Hispanic Paradox

Interestingly, something known as the Hispanic Paradox points to the longevity of Hispanic Americans, who live longer than other ethnic groups in the U.S., despite often facing financial and educational challenges that typically lead to poorer health outcomes. This paradox is attributed to their higher consumption of beans, fruits, and vegetables, highlighting the role of diet in healthy ageing.

What About Bloating?

Now, I know some of you might be thinking, "But aren't beans and legumes known for causing bloating and gas?" It's true that some people experience discomfort when they first introduce these foods into their diet. However, this can often be temporary as your gut bacteria adjust to the dietary change. There are also simple ways to mitigate these effects, such as ensuring beans and legumes are properly cooked. Adding kombu (a type of seaweed) while cooking lentils or chickpeas can help reduce gassiness, and opting for mashed legumes, like hummus, is another gentle way to introduce them into your diet without much trouble.

So, why not give beans and legumes a try?

They're not only nutritious but also incredibly versatile. You can add them to salads, soups, and stews, or even make them the star of your meal. Remember, starting with just a small amount can lead to significant health benefits over time.

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For more information, catch up on this session where we delved into this topic.

Further reading

Legumes: the most important dietary predictor of survival in older people of different ethnicities - PubMed (

Decreased consumption of dried mature beans is positively associated with urbanization and nonfatal acute myocardial infarction - PubMed (