Cereals, legumes, and chronic disease risk reduction: Evidence from epidemiologic studies

Lawrence H. Kushi, Katie A. Meyer, David R. Jacobs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

210 Scopus citations


There is growing evidence that cereals and legumes play important roles in the prevention of chronic diseases. Early epidemiologic studies of these associations focused on intake of dietary fiber rather than intake of grains or legumes. Generally, these studies indicated an inverse association between dietary fiber intake and risk of coronary artery disease; this observation has been replicated in recent cohort studies. Studies that focused on grain or cereal intake are fewer in number; these tend to support an inverse association between intake of whole grains and coronary artery disease. Studies on the association of dietary fiber with colon and other cancers have generally shown inverse relations, but whether these relations are attributable to cereals, other fiber sources, or other factors is less clear. Although legumes have been shown to lower blood cholesterol concentrations, epidemiologic studies are few and inconclusive regarding the association of legumes with risk of coronary artery disease. It has been hypothesized that legumes, in particular soybeans, reduce the risk of some cancers, but epidemiologic studies are equivocal in this regard. Overall, there is substantial epidemiologic evidence that dietary fiber and whole grains are associated with decreased risk of coronary artery disease and some cancers, whereas the role of legumes in these diseases appears promising but as yet inconclusive.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Issue number3 SUPPL.
StatePublished - Sep 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Cancer
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Cereals
  • Chronic disease prevention
  • Chronic disease risk
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Dietary fiber
  • Legumes
  • Whole grains

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Food Science


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