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Do Legumes Make the “Good to Eat” List in Alzheimer’s Nutrition?

Posted by on Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

There is a lot of controversy these days over diet and which foods should be on the “good to eat” list and which ones should not. One example is legumes and beans. Many sources will say, “Yes, put them on the good list.” Tim Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Body advocates for the “slow-carb diet,” and wholeheartedly recommends legumes. Those in favor of the Paleo diet, or Cave Man diet as it’s also called, say that all starchy foods are bad and that they cause digestive upset. So what are the facts behind legumes? Are they on the “good to eat list” when it comes to Alzheimer’s nutrition?


cook dry beans for Alzheimer's nutrition

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According to J.D. Moyer on his blog, How to Live and Eat Well, legumes are a great source of protein. High in fiber, they fill you up and provide a long steady supply of energy. Moyer goes on to explain that the only type of bean that should be taken off your list of good food to eat is perhaps soy beans because they cause


Legumes include several types of beans such as lentils, red beans, white beans, and even peanuts. They are highly recommended as part of the Mediterranean diet which has been found to lower the risk of heart disease, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. In recent studies 1.5 million participants followed the Mediterranean diet, (which includes eating legumes regularly), the results were a lowered risk of cardiac disease, cancer, and lower incidence of Alzheimer’s disease.

One study including over 2,000 men and women over age 35 who had polyps in the pre-cancer stages, these participants changed their diet over a 4 year period to include a 3 fold increase (370%) of high fiber fruits, vegetables, and dry beans. Those who ate the most beans had significantly reduced the recurrence of polyps.

Benefits of Legumes

  • Low fat, high in fiber and loaded with antioxidants.
  • Protein-rich
  • High in essential nutrients, such as folate, calcium, zinc, iron and selenium
  • Low glycemic index
  • Affordable and easy to prepare
  • High in minerals, like calcium, copper, zinc, iron, and potassium
  • Loaded with B vitamins, such as folic acid

Beans contain a high amount of fiber, from 12 to 15 grams in just one cup which is 50 percent of the daily recommended fiber for elderly adults. The insoluble fiber helps prevent constipation. Some studies indicate that the high fiber content in legumes helps fight colon cancer.


fiber in Alzheimer's nutrition

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Beans are packed with protein. One cup of cooked beans provides as much as 16 g of protein, and about one third of your daily recommended allowance of fiber.

The low glycemic index property of legumes means that they provide low levels of glucose (due to their fiber content) which is absorbed slowly so that they provide long term energy without peaks of high glucose levels.  This results in your body having to produce less insulin. Low glycemic index carbohydrates are recommended for diabetes, overall health and as part of healthy Alzheimer’s nutrition.

The USDA performed research on beans and found that ½ cup per day helps to lower LDL cholesterol levels which indicates that beans and legumes promote lower risk of heart disease caused by high cholesterol levels.

Beans may also reduce colon cancer risk. Increasing bean consumption may protect against the recurrence of precancerous polyps. These polyps could lead to colorectal cancer, the second leading cause of death from cancer in the U.S.

Be sure you cook and soak legumes properly to minimize any adverse reactions they may cause on the digestive system.




Peanuts are actually in the legume category and have unique health promoting properties. Peanuts are high in antioxidants such as p-coumaric acid which helps to remove toxins. Peanuts have a substance called lectins which provoke an immune response reducing inflammation. Peanut butter and peanut oil are two other sources of this nutritious legume. Try crushing peanuts and then sprinkling them over salads. Or make a tasty peanut chutney made from chili peppers, salt, coriander leaves, garlic, mustard seed and crushed peanuts. This is a popular dish in Sri Lanka.  

Nuts and seeds are often considered in the same general class as legumes and are part of a heart healthy diet as well as highly recommended for their healthy fatty acids in Alzheimer’s prevention.


seeds and nuts for Alzheimer's nutrition

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There are  some great ideas on cooking legumes, and recipes on creative ways to incorporate them into your daily diet, such as a yummy recipe for bean burgers.


 In conclusion, there are many different opinions on the benefits of legumes including cancer, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s prevention properties. Although everyone’s digestive system is unique, and some people have an easier time digesting beans and nuts, overall legumes  are considered a primary source for healthy protein, low glycemic index foods, and healthy fatty acids. Why not try incorporating legumes, nuts, and seeds into your Alzheimer’s prevention diet today?

For more easy to follow nutrition advice check out The Alzheimer’s Diet: A Step-by-Step Nutritional Approach to Memory Loss Prevention and Treatment, or visit to learn more about Neurologist, Dr. Richard Isaacson's 9 week diet plan and his cutting edge approach in the fight against AD in Alzheimer's Treatment | Alzheimer's Prevention: A Patient and Family Guide 2012 Edition. Also, sign up for the newsletter to get the latest updates in AD treatment and prevention news.

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