The present randomised cross-over clinical trial investigated the effects of two intervention diets (non-soya legume-based therapeutic lifestyle change (TLC) diet v. isoenergetic legume-free TLC diet) on inflammatory biomarkers among type 2 diabetic patients. A group of thirty-one participants (twenty-four women and seven men; weight 74·5 (sd 7·0) kg; age 58·1 (sd 6·0) years) were randomly assigned to one of the two following intervention diets for 8 weeks: legume-free TLC diet or non-soya legume-based TLC diet. The latter diet was the same as the legume-free TLC diet, except that two servings of red meat were replaced with different types of cooked non-soya legumes such as lentils, chickpeas, peas and beans over a period of 3 d per week. The intervention period was followed by a washout period of 4 weeks, after which the groups followed the alternate treatment for 8 weeks. Concentrations of inflammatory markers were measured at baseline and after the intervention periods. Compared with the legume-free TLC diet, the non-soya legume-based TLC diet significantly decreased high-sensitivity C-reactive protein, IL-6 and TNF-α in overweight diabetic patients. The replacement of two servings of red meat by non-soya legumes in the isoenergetic TLC diet for a period of 3 d per week reduced the plasma concentrations of inflammatory markers among overweight diabetic patients, independent of weight change.