Associations between Dietary Pulses Alone or with Other Legumes and Cardiometabolic Disease Outcomes: An Umbrella Review and Updated Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Prospective Cohort Studies

Adv Nutr. 2019 Nov 1;10(Suppl_4):S308-S319. doi: 10.1093/advances/nmz113.


To update the European Association for the Study of Diabetes clinical practice guidelines for nutrition therapy, we conducted an umbrella review and updated systematic review and meta-analysis (SRMA) of prospective cohort studies of the association between dietary pulses with or without other legumes and cardiometabolic disease outcomes. We searched the PubMed, MEDLINE, EMBASE, and Cochrane databases through March 2019. We included the most recent SRMAs of prospective cohort studies and new prospective cohort studies published after the census dates of the included SRMAs assessing the relation between dietary pulses with or without other legumes and incidence and mortality of cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) [including coronary heart disease (CHD), myocardial infarction (MI), and stroke], diabetes, hypertension, and/or obesity. Two independent reviewers extracted data and assessed risk of bias. Risk estimates were pooled using the generic inverse variance method and expressed as risk ratios (RRs) with 95% CIs. The overall certainty of the evidence was assessed using the GRADE approach. Six SRMAs were identified and updated to include 28 unique prospective cohort studies with the following number of cases for each outcome: CVD incidence, 10,261; CVD mortality, 16,168; CHD incidence, 7786; CHD mortality, 3331; MI incidence, 2585; stroke incidence, 8570; stroke mortality, 2384; diabetes incidence, 10,457; hypertension incidence, 83,284; obesity incidence, 8125. Comparing the highest with the lowest level of intake, dietary pulses with or without other legumes were associated with significant decreases in CVD (RR: 0.92; 95% CI: 0.85, 0.99), CHD (RR: 0.90; 95% CI: 0.83, 0.99), hypertension (RR: 0.91; 95% CI: 0.86, 0.97), and obesity (RR: 0.87; 95% CI: 0.81, 0.94) incidence. There was no association with MI, stroke, and diabetes incidence or CVD, CHD, and stroke mortality. The overall certainty of the evidence was graded as "low" for CVD incidence and "very low" for all other outcomes. Current evidence shows that dietary pulses with or without other legumes are associated with reduced CVD incidence with low certainty and reduced CHD, hypertension, and obesity incidence with very low certainty. More research is needed to improve our estimates. This trial was registered at as NCT03555734.

Keywords: GRADE; cardiovascular disease; diabetes; hypertension; legumes; meta-analysis; obesity; prospective cohort; pulses; systematic review.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Coronary Disease / epidemiology
  • Coronary Disease / prevention & control
  • Diabetes Mellitus / epidemiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus / prevention & control
  • Diet*
  • Fabaceae*
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / epidemiology
  • Hypertension / prevention & control
  • Metabolic Diseases / epidemiology
  • Metabolic Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Myocardial Infarction / epidemiology
  • Myocardial Infarction / prevention & control
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Obesity / prevention & control
  • Prospective Studies
  • Seeds*
  • Stroke / epidemiology
  • Stroke / prevention & control

Associated data