"The cornerstone of every longevity diet in the world was the humble bean," concludes Dan Buettner in a 2015 Wall Street Journal article. Beuttner is a National Geographic Fellow and author of THE BLUE ZONES SOLUTION: Eating and Living Like the World’s Healthiest People. Buettner compares the lifestyle and diet of the earth's five longest-living people groups to discover the common factors, trying to distill for the rest of us the secrets of longevity.
Beuttner's observation that beans are part of a longevity life stye is supported by clinical science. In the Food Habits in Later Life study, researchers spent seven years following five different groups of people in Japan, Sweden, Australia, and Greece, all age 70 or older. They wanted to find which foods were associated with the longest lifespan. Researchers compared nine major food groups: vegetables, legumes, fruits and nuts, milk and dairy products, cereals and potatoes, meat and meat products, ethanol, monounsaturated to saturated fats ratio, and fish.
The researchers reported that "only for legume intake was the result plausible, consistent and statistically significant" across the data for the various populations. They found that for every 20g increase in daily legume intake (about 2 tablespoons), there is a 7% - 8% reduction in risk of death.
The study noted that research has long shown that beans are associated with longer life. The type of legume does not seem to affect the positive outcome of this dietary component. The Japanese rely on soybeans, the Swedes eat brown beans or peas, and the Mediterranean groups enjoy lentils, chickpeas, and white beans, but all groups show the benefits of a life rich in legumes.
Beans are an essential component of a whole-food, oil-free, plant-based diet. If studies show that eating only 2 tablespoons a day decreased risk of death by 7-8%, then imagine the longevity benefits for those of us eating a plant-based diet that includes one cup of beans a day! Dr. John McDougall has a wonderful introduction to the subject of starches as the basis for health and Engine 2 Diet offers recipes and more to those interested in strengthening their lives with plants. At the growing Starch-Smart community, you'll find support from others who are on their way to better health and longevity fueled by the power of plant foods.
Do you have a favorite way to incorporate beans into your diet? Join the conversation below to tell us how you enjoy lengthening your life with legumes.
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Video Credit: Increased Lifespan From Beans - NutritionFacts.org