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Am J Clin Nutr. 2011 Sep;94(3):869-76. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.111.013219. Epub 2011 Aug 3.

A higher ratio of beans to white rice is associated with lower cardiometabolic risk factors in Costa Rican adults.

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  • 1Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA 02115, USA. hcampos@hsph.harvard.edu



A high intake of white rice is associated with the metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. Costa Ricans follow a staple dietary pattern that includes white rice and beans, yet the combined role of these foods on cardiometabolic risk factors has not been studied.


We aimed to determine the association between intake of white rice and beans and the metabolic syndrome and its components in Costa Rican adults (n = 1879) without diabetes.


Multivariate-adjusted means were calculated for components of the metabolic syndrome by daily servings of white rice and beans (<1, 1, or >1) and by the ratio of beans to white rice. The OR for the metabolic syndrome was calculated by substituting one serving of beans for one serving of white rice.


An increase in daily servings of white rice was positively associated with systolic blood pressure (BP), triglycerides, and fasting glucose and inversely associated with HDL cholesterol (P-trend <0.01 for all). An increase in servings of beans was inversely associated with diastolic BP (P = 0.049). Significant trends for higher HDL cholesterol and lower BP and triglycerides were observed for 1:3, 1:2, 1:1, and 2:1 ratios of beans to white rice. Substituting one serving of beans for one serving of white rice was associated with a 35% (95% CI: 15%, 50%) lower risk of the metabolic syndrome.


Increasing the ratio of beans to white rice, or limiting the intake of white rice by substituting beans, may lower cardiometabolic risk factors.

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