Widening the perspectives for legume consumption: the case of bioactive non-nutrients

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18 Citations (Scopus)


Legume grains have provided essential nutrients in human diets for centuries, being excellent sources of proteins, carbohydrates, fatty acids, and fibers. They also contain several non-nutrients that historically have been connotated as toxic but that in recent years have been shown to have interesting bioactive properties. The discussion on the role of bioactive non-nutrients is becoming more important due to increasing science-based evidence on their potential antioxidant, hypoglycemic, hypolipidemic, and anticarcinogenic properties. At a time when legume-based products consumption is being strongly promoted by national governments and health authorities, there is a need to clearly define the recommended levels of such non-nutrients in human diets. However, there is insufficient data determining the ideal amount of non-nutrients in legume grains, which will exert the most positive health benefits. This is aligned with insufficient studies that clearly demonstrate if the positive health effects are due to the presence of specific non-nutrients or a result of a dietary balance. In fact, rather than looking directly at the individual food components, most nutritional epidemiology studies relate disease risk with the food and dietary patterns. The purpose of this perspective paper is to explore different types of non-nutrients present in legume grains, discuss the current evidence on their health benefits, and provide awareness for the need for more studies to define a recommended amount of each compound to identify the best approaches, either to enhance or reduce their levels.
Original languageEnglish
Article number772054
Number of pages9
JournalFrontiers in Plant Science
Publication statusPublished - 10 Feb 2022


  • Anti-nutrients
  • Bioactive
  • Health
  • Legume grains
  • Sustainability


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