Do Common Beans (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) Promote Good Health in Humans? A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Clinical and Randomized Controlled Trials

Nutrients. 2021 Oct 21;13(11):3701. doi: 10.3390/nu13113701.


The common bean is a nutrient-dense food empirically known to have beneficial effects on human health. Many studies have looked at the effects of "pulses" on different health issues, providing general overviews of the importance of each pulse in health studies. This study systematically reviews and provides meta-analyses of the effect of bean extract as a supplement or whole bean on four health issues (cardiovascular diseases, diabetes mellitus, obesity, and cancers) from a dissection of clinical and randomized controlled trials using human subjects. A digital search in PubMed and Google ScholarTM resulted in 340 articles, with only 23 peer-reviewed articles matching our inclusion criteria. Findings indicated that common beans reduced LDL cholesterol by 19 percent, risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) by 11 percent, and coronary heart disease (CHD) by 22 percent. Besides this, we noted variances in the literature on cancer findings, with some authors stating it reduced the proliferation of some kinds of tumor cells and reduced the growth of polyps, while others did not specifically examine cancers but the predisposing factors alone. However, diabetes studies indicated that the postprandial glucose level at the peak of 60 min for common bean consumers was low (mean difference = -2.01; 95% CI [-4.6, -0.63]), but the difference between the treated and control was not significant, and there was a high level of heterogeneity among studies (I2 = 98%). Only obesity studies indicated a significantly high level of weight gain among control groups (mean difference = 1.62; 95% CI [0.37, 2.86]). There is a need for additional clinical trials using a standardized measure to indicate the real effect of the common bean on health.

Keywords: cancers; cardiovascular diseases; common beans; diabetes mellitus; health; human trials; obesity.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Disease
  • Health*
  • Humans
  • Phaseolus / physiology*
  • Regression Analysis