Large studies populations that eat legumes as part of their traditional diet suggest people who eat legumes regularly may be less likely to develop certain types of cancer including bowel, breast, lung and prostate cancer.
Legumes contain many nutrients that may be beneficial in protecting against cancer. In particular, legumes are a good source of fibre which is known to protect against bowel cancer and has also been linked to lower risk of other cancer. Legumes also contain resistant starch, a type of carbohydrate which is fermented by the good bacteria in the gut to produce compounds which are thought to protect against bowel cancer. It is likely these dietary fibres and the range of other protective components (phytonutrients) found in legumes work together to protect against some cancers.
Soy and breast cancer risk
While some reports in the media have expressed concern over soy consumption and breast cancer risk in women, studies have consistently shown that women who eat higher intakes of soy have lower risk of breast cancer and also a reduced risk of re-occurrence in breast cancer survivors. In fact, the protective effect of higher soy intakes may be as high as a 14-25% reduced risk of breast cancer in people who eat high intake of soy foods.
GLNC recommends all Australians enjoy legumes 2 – 3 times a week for a healthy diet and to reduce risk of disease.
For more information on eating a healthy diet and cancer visit the Cancer Council.