Effect on blood cholesterol level

In 2012, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that coronary heart disease (CHD) was the leading cause of mortality, resulting in 7.6 million deaths worldwide. It is well established that reducing blood cholesterol reduces the risk of CHD, and the US National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP)* estimates that each 1% reduction in LDL cholesterol reduces the risk of heart disease by 1-2%. Several clinical studies have demonstrated that increasing intake of viscous soluble fibers like beta-glucan can effectively reduce LDL and total cholesterol. Three meta-analyses have summarized nearly 50 randomized controlled trials including 1,780 normo- and hypercholesterolaemic subjects completed between 1985 to 2007. Overall, the data suggest that 3 g/day of beta-glucan can lower LDL cholesterol by 3-5% and total cholesterol by 2-4%. This may result in a reduction in heart disease by 3-10%, with the greatest reductions occurring in those with higher starting cholesterol levels. Additionally, the physicochemical properties of beta-glucans can impact the efficacy in lowering cholesterol. Oat beta-glucans with high molecular weight and solubility used at high concentrations are thought to be more viscous in the small intestine. This increased viscosity may reduce reabsorption of bile acids and increase the synthesis of new bile acids from cholesterol, thus reducing circulating LDL concentrations.

Reduction in LDL cholesterol following four weeks of oat beta-glucan consumption19

Treatment groups with different letters are significantly different (P<0.05)

HMW = High molecular weight
MMW = Medium molecular weight LMW=Low molecular weight

Reduction in body weight after 6 g/day oat beta-glucan for eight weeks29

*Significant difference compared to control (P<0.002)

Favorable blood glucose and insulin response

The impact of oat beta-glucan on blood glucose and insulin responses has also been studied extensively over the past few decades. In 2011, EFSA determined that a cause and effect relationship has been established between the consumption of beta-glucans (from both oat and barley sources) and a reduction of postprandial glycemic responses. Their conclusion was based off of six key clinical trials that consistently demonstrated ‘an effect of oat and barley beta-glucans in decreasing postprandial glycemic responses, without disproportionately increasing postprandial insulinemic responses, at doses of at least 4 g per 30 g of available carbohydrates.’ Further, EFSA determined that the mechanism by which beta-glucans lower blood glucose has been well established. Beta-glucans increase the viscosity of the meal bolus, thereby reducing the interaction between food and digestive enzymes in the stomach, delaying gastric emptying, and reducing absorption of glucose. Because viscosity plays a large role in reducing blood glucose and insulin responses, differences in physicochemical properties of beta glucans, such as molecular weight, may impact the magnitude of the effect.

FSL can offer two kinds of oat beta-glucan, which can be used in dairy, bakery and culinary applications

a. OB-10: Contains 8-10% β-Glucan; 26% Dietary Fiber; 20% Protein

b. BG-20: Contains 20% β-Glucan; 42% Dietary Fiber; 24% Protein

EFSA and FDA approved health claims on cholesterol and heart health

  • Article 13, Beta Glucan Blood Glucose Peak Reduction (4g of Beta Glucan / 30g available carbohydrates)
  • Article 13, Oat Grain fiber Gut Health -Increase of fecal Bulk (6% of dietary fiber from oats)
  • Article 13, Beta Glucan Maintenance of Normal Blood Cholesterol Levels (1 g Beta Glucan / serving)
  • Article 14, Oat Beta Glucan Reduction of Blood Cholesterol and Risk of Development of Coronary Heart Disease (1g of Beta Glucan / serving)