Legume consumption plays a pivotal role in the prevention and treatment of the metabolic syndrome (MetS). This systematic review aimed to highlight the beneficial effects of legume interventions for the prevention and/or improvement of parameters related to the MetS and the implicated metabolic pathways so far reported. The methodology involved a search in four electronic databases (Medline, Web of Science, Scopus, Cochrane Library) from January 2007 to December 2014, considering as descriptors 'Metabolic Syndrome' and 'Fabaceae' and adequately adjusting the equation in each one of them. In total, forty-one studies were finally included. The majority of the studies described a regulating effect on glucose and lipid metabolism due to legume administration, whereas effects on blood pressure and renal parameters are not fully described. Regarding the metabolic pathways involved, they include the up-regulation of genes related to β-oxidation and acetyl-CoA degradation and the down-regulation of glycolytic and lipogenesis genes, as well as those associated with the acetyl-CoA synthesis. The ameliorating effects of legume consumption on the alterations associated with the MetS are clearly reported and coincide with changes in the expression of protein and genes involved in lipid and glucose metabolism. More research needs to be conducted including more legume species that are highly consumed as part of a healthy dietary pattern.
Keywords: Fabaceae; Insulin resistance; Lipolysis; MetS metabolic syndrome; Metabolic pathways; Metabolic syndrome.