The International Union of Nutritional Sciences (IUNS) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have sponsored this study on nutrition of the elderly called “Food Habits in Later Life’ (FHILL.) Food habits of people over 70 were studied among Japanese in Japan, Swedes in Sweden, Anglo-Celtics in Australia, Greeks in Australia, and Greeks in Greece.
Nine food groups were studied according to the Traditional Mediterranean Diet, including vegetables, legumes, fruits and nuts, cereals and starch roots, dairy products, meat, fish, monosaturated/saturated ratio, and ethanol. Death rates were collected for seven years.
The results were that legumes were the only food group which altered mortality rates in a consistent and statistical manner. There was a 7 to 8% reduction in mortality for every 20 grams of legumes consumed daily.
Several long-lived cultures have eaten large amounts of legumes. The Japanese have eaten soy, tofu, natto, and miso. The Swedes have eaten brown beans and peas. The Mediterranean people have eaten lentils, chickpeas, and white beans.
CONCLUSION: The purpose of this study was to review eating patterns among the longest living people in five different ethnic groups. Only legume consumption correlated consistently with longevity with 20 grams of daily consumption of legumes resulting in 7-8% reduction in mortality.