Cholesterol/LipidsE. DIETARY

Effects of non-soy legumes on cholesterol levels

Non-soy legumesNon-soy legumes include a variety of beans, peas, and some seeds. They are commonly consumed in Western countries.

Researchers from Tulane University School of Medicine, in New Orleans, Louisiana reviewed the evidence.

First, the details.

  • 10 studies of 268 participants were selected.
  • Each compared a non-soy legume diet to control for at least 3 weeks.

And, the results.

  • The change in total cholesterol blood levels for those treated with a legume diet compared to a control group was -11.8 mg/dL.
  • The change in LDL (bad) cholesterol was -8.0 mg/dL.

The bottom line
The authors concluded, “A diet rich in legumes other than soy decreases total and LDL cholesterol.

So, if you have borderline high LDL cholesterol levels of 130 to 159 mg/dL, adding non-legumes to your diet will help but probably not bring your LDL cholesterol into the optimal range of less than 100 mg/dL.

For perspective, statins lower cholesterol by 20% to 60%. Starting at a level of 159 mg/dL, a 20% to 60% reduction might achieve optimal levels. Examples of statin drugs include atorvastatin (Lipitor), fluvastatin (Lescol), lovastatin (Mevacor, Altocor), pravastatin (Pravachol), simvastatin (Zocor), rosuvastatin (Crestor).

Non-legumes should be considered part of a comprehensive approach to controlling cholesterol.

11/27/09 21:49 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.