Groats are Great (for you)

Beta Glucan – superstar and super food

(hint: Eat your groats!)

Beta glucan is a naturally derived polysaccharide (copmplex carbohydrate) which has been studied for its anti-tumor, immune stimulating properties and lipid cholesterol correcdting benefits. The carbohydrate polymers known as beta-1,3-d-glucans exert potent effects on the immune system – stimulating anti-tumor and antimicrobial activity, for example – by binding to receptors on macrophages and other white blood cells and activating them allowing them to fight more efficiently.

Side Effects of Beta Glucan
No major beta glucan side effects have been reported in medical journals as of March 2009.

Best Source and Cheapest Source:  Groats  (raw soaked groats)

What is a groat?

A groat is the berry from the oat plant before it is steel cut or rolled – both are processes that destroy many beneficials in the oat. Take your healthy oats in their natural form: the Groat!

SAFALAB sells organic groats and offers delicious recipies.  Call 360-341-2303

Beta Glucan and cholesterol management
At least two good studies show beta glucan to be helpful in reducing cholesterol levels.

The effects of concentrated barley beta-glucan on blood lipids in a population of hypercholesterolaemic men and women.
Br J Nutr. 2007 Jun;97(6):1162-8. Epub 2007 Apr 20. Keenan JM, Goulson M, Shamliyan T, Knutson N, Kolberg L, Curry L. University of Minnesota, Medical School, Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, MMC 381, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA.

Barley, like oats, is a rich source of the soluble fiber beta-glucan. We evaluated the LDL- cholesterol lowering effect of a concentrated barley beta-glucan extract as a vehicle to deliver this potential health benefit of barley. In a 10-week blinded controlled study, subjects were randomized to one of four treatment groups or control. Treatment groups included either high molecular weight or low molecular weight barley beta-glucan extract at both 3 and 5 g doses. Treatment was delivered twice per day with meals in the form of two functional food products: a ready-to-eat cereal and a reduced-calorie fruit juice beverage. After 6 weeks of treatment the mean LDL- Cholesterol levels fell by 15 % in the 5 g HMW group, 13 % in the 5 g LMW group and 9 % in both the 3 g/d groups, versus baseline. Similar results were observed for total cholesterol. HDL-C levels were unchanged by treatment.

Oat-derived beta-glucan significantly improves HDL Cholesterol and diminishes LDL Cholesterol and non-HDL cholesterol in overweight individuals with mild hypercholesterolemia.
Am J Ther. 2007 Mar-Apr;14(2):203-12. Center for Metabolic and Endocrine Research, The University of Zulia, Maracaibo, Venezuela.

To investigate the effect of bread formulated with 6 g of beta-glucan (oat soluble fiber) on serum lipids in overweight normotensive subjects with mild to moderate hypercholesterolemia. Thirty-eight male subjects [mean age 59 yr, who were eligible for the study ate an isocaloric diet for a 1-week period. They were then divided into 2 groups: group A (n = 19), who were maintained on American Heart Association (AHA) Step II diet, including whole wheat bread, and group B (n = 19), who were maintained on AHA Step II diet containing high levels of monounsaturated fatty acids plus bread containing 6 g of beta-glucan (Nutrim-OB) for 8 weeks. There was a significant increase in plasma high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol in the beta-glucan group (group A) from 39 to 49 mg/dL , but there was no change in group B. There was a significant reduction in total cholesterol in the 2 groups to approximately the same extent: group A, from 232 mg/dL to 202 mg/dL; and group B, from 231 to 194. Plasma low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol also decreased significantly in the two groups: group A, from 160 to 1331; group B, from 167 mg/dL to 120 mg/dL; however, the beta-glucan fortified diet was significantly more effective (downward arrow 27% vs. downward arrow 16). The beta-glucan diet also produced higher reduction in total cholesterol / HDL cholesterol ratio and LDL cholesterol/HDL cholesterol ratio than the diet without beta-glucan. The beta-glucan diet also decreased fasting plasma glucose, whereas the other diet had no effect. Interestingly, both diets reduced body weight and BMI significantly, with beta-glucan diet having a greater effect. Six grams of beta-glucan from oats added to the AHA Step II diet and moderate physical activity improved lipid profile and caused a decrease in weight and, thus, reduced the risk of cardiovascular events in overweight male individuals with mild to moderate hypercholesterolemia. The diet with added beta-glucan was well accepted and tolerated.


Beta Glucan and Cholesterol

Fruit drinks enriched with the soluble fiber beta-glucan can lower levels of total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol, the “bad” cholesterol. Dr. Ronald Mensink, of Maastricht University tested 25 healthy subjects who drank a fruit drink containing beta-glucan from oats and 22 healthy subjects who drank a fruit drink containing 5 grams of rice starch, which served as a placebo. All of the subjects drank the juice every day for five weeks. Compared with the placebo group, total cholesterol was reduced by 5 percent and LDL cholesterol by 7.7 percent in the beta-glucan group. The investigators also found that the beta-glucan drink decreased cholesterol absorption and increased synthesis, without affecting levels of fat-soluble antioxidants. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, March 2006.


Beta Glucan influences carboxylic acid excretion
Dietary supplementation with beta-glucan enriched oat bran increases faecal concentration of carboxylic acids in healthy subjects.
European Journal of Clinical Nutrition . 2007 May 23; 1Applied Nutrition and Food Chemistry, Department of Food Technology, Engineering and Nutrition, Center for Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Lund University, Lund, Sweden.

Carboxylic acids, especially butyric acid, have been suggested to counteract colonic diseases, such as ulcerative colitis and colon cancer. Colonic formation of carboxylic acids can be influenced by diet, but the concentrations and pattern formed need to be evaluated for different food products in humans. To elucidate how the colonic concentration of carboxylic acids in healthy subjects is influenced by dietary supplementation with oat bran, and whether the concentration varies over time and during consecutive days. Twenty-five healthy subjects (age 24+/-1.3) were recruited to the study. The subjects were given 40 g beta-glucan enriched oat bran per day, corresponding to 20 g dietary fibre, in 4 slices of bread. Carboxylic acids were analysed in feces during three consecutive days after 0, 4, 8 and 12 weeks on this diet. The concentration of acetic, propionic, butyric, isobutyric and isovaleric acid was higher after 8 weeks on the oat bran diet as compared with values at entry, whereas that of lactic acid was lower. After 12 weeks, the concentrations of acetic, propionic and isobutyric acid were still higher and that of lactic acid lower. The variation between individuals was considerable, whereas in the same individuals there was little variation. Oat bran increased the fecal concentration of carboxylic acids after 8 weeks, indicating an increased concentration also in the distal colon. The concentration of all main acids increased, except for lactic acid, which decreased. Oat bran may therefore have a preventive potential adjunct to colonic diseases.

Beta-Glucan Research Update
Beta Glucan incorporated into a fruit drink effectively lowers serum LDL- cholesterol concentrations
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 83, No. 3, 601-605, March 2006

Beta Glucan can reduce serum concentrations of total and LDL cholesterol. The mechanism of this action is not clear, however, and it is difficult to predict the cholesterol-lowering effect of a food product enriched with beta glucan. We examined the effects of a beta glucan -enriched fruit juice on serum lipids and lipoproteins and on markers of cholesterol absorption (serum concentrations of plant sterols) and synthesis (serum concentrations of lathosterol). In addition, we measured effects on lipid-soluble antioxidants. Conclusions: beta Glucan lowers serum concentrations of total and LDL cholesterol when incorporated into a fruit drink. A reduced cholesterol absorption contributes to the cholesterol-lowering effect of beta glucan without affecting plasma concentrations of lipid-soluble antioxidants.

Enhancement of radioprotection and anti-tumor immunity by yeast-derived beta-glucan in mice.
J Med Food. 2005 Summer;8(2):154-8.
Department of Radiological Technology, Suzuka University of Medical Science, Suzuka, Japan.

Intraperitoneal injection of beta glucan was shown to greatly delay mortality in mice exposed to whole-body X-ray radiation and tumor growth in tumor-bearing mice. Since the leukocyte and lymphocyte numbers were increased by a single dose of beta-glucan, the radioprotective effect of beta-glucan is probably mediated, at least in part, by a hemopoietic action in irradiated mice. In addition, both natural killer (NK) and lymphokine-activated killer (LAK) activities were significantly increased by repeated doses of beta-glucan. Augmented immunological activity as seen in increased NK and LAK activity by beta glucan seems to play a role in preventing secondary infections associated with irradiation, and probably contributes to the attenuated tumor growth in tumor-bearing mice through enhanced anti-tumor immunity. These results suggest that beta glucan may be a promising adjunct treatment for cancer patients receiving radiotherapy.

Effects of oat beta-glucan on innate immunity and infection after exercise stress.
Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2004 Aug;36(8):1321-7.

To test the effects of oat beta glucan on respiratory infection, macrophage antiviral resistance, and NK cytotoxicity. Mice were randomly assigned to one of four groups: Ex-H2O, Ex- beta glucan, Con-H2O, or Con beta glucan. Beta glucan was fed in the drinking water for 10 d before intranasal inoculation of HSV-1 or sacrifice. Exercise consisted of treadmill running to volitional fatigue for three consecutive days. Fifteen minutes after the last bout of exercise or rest, mice were intranasally inoculated with a standardized dose of HSV-1. Mice were monitored twice daily for morbidity and mortality. RESULTS: Exercise stress was associated with a 28% increase in morbidity and 18% increase in mortality. Ingestion of beta glucan before infection prevented this increase in morbidity and mortality. Exercise stress was associated with a decrease in macrophage antiviral resistance, which was blocked by ingestion of beta glucan. There were no effects of exercise or beta glucan on NK cytotoxicity. These data suggest that daily ingestion of beta glucan may offset the increased risk of upper respiratory infection associated with exercise stress, which may be mediated, at least in part, by an increase in macrophage antiviral resistance.

Reduced and High Molecular Weight Barley {beta}-Glucans Decrease Plasma Total and Non-HDL-Cholesterol in Hypercholesterolemic Syrian Golden Hamsters.
J Nutr. 2004 Oct;134(10):2617-2622.
Department of Health and Clinical Sciences, University of Massachusetts-Lowell, Lowell, MA

Consumption of concentrated barley beta-glucan lowers plasma cholesterol because of its soluble dietary fiber nature. The role of molecular weight (MW) in lowering serum cholesterol is not well established. Prior studies showed that enzymatic degradation of beta-glucan eliminates the cholesterol-lowering activity; however, these studies did not evaluate the MW of the beta-glucan. The current study was conducted to evaluate whether barley beta-glucan concentrates, partially hydrolyzed to reduce MW, possess cholesterol-lowering and antiatherogenic activities. The reduced MW fraction was compared with a high MW beta-glucan concentrate from the same barley flour. Concentrated beta-glucan preparations were evaluated in Syrian Golden hamsters fed a hypercholesterolemic diet (HCD) with cholesterol, hydrogenated coconut oil, and cellulose. After 2 wk, hamsters were fed HCD or diets that contained high or reduced MW beta-glucan at the expense of cellulose. Decreases in plasma total cholesterol (TC) and non-HDL-cholesterol (non-HDL-C) concentrations occurred in the hamsters fed reduced MW and high MW beta-glucan diets. Plasma HDL-C concentrations did not differ. HCD-fed hamsters had higher plasma triglyceride concentrations. Liver TC, free cholesterol, and cholesterol ester concentrations did not differ. Aortic cholesterol ester concentrations were lower in the reduced MW beta-glucan-fed hamsters. Consumption of either high or reduced MW beta-glucan increased concentrations of fecal total neutral sterols and coprostanol, a cholesterol derivative. Fecal excretion of cholesterol was greater than in HCD-fed hamsters only in those fed the reduced MW beta-glucan. Study results demonstrate that the cholesterol-lowering activity of barley beta-glucan may occur at both lower and higher MW.

Beta-glucan, extracted from oat, enhances disease resistance against bacterial and parasitic infections.
FEMS Immunol Med Microbiol. 2003 Jan 21;35(1):67-75.

The effect of beta-glucan, extracted from oats, on the enhancement of resistance to infections caused by Staphylococcus aureus and Eimeria vermiformis was studied in mice. In vitro study using macrophages isolated from the peritoneal cavity showed that beta-glucan treatment significantly enhanced phagocytic activity. In vivo study further demonstrated that beta-glucan treatment induced a significant protection against the challenge with S. aureus in mice. Fecal oocyst shedding in the C57BL/6 mice infected with E. vermiformis was diminished by beta-glucan treatment by 39% in intraperitoneal and 28% in intragastric group compared to non-treated control. Patency period was shorter and antigen (sporozoites and merozoites) specific antibodies were significantly higher in beta-glucan-treated group compared to non-treated control group. There were an increasing number of splenic IFN-gamma-secreting cells in glucan-treated group via intraperitoneal route, which might be responsible for the enhancement of the disease resistance. In conclusion, the oral or parenteral oat beta-glucan treatment enhanced the resistance to S. aureus or E. vermiformis infection in the mice.


Sweeteners and beta-glucans improve metabolic and anthropometrics variables in well controlled type 2 diabetic patients.
Am J Ther. 2003 Nov-Dec;10(6):438-43.

To compare metabolic and anthropometric improvements elicited by a diet based on the American Diabetic Association’s nutrition recommendations with a modified, low-energy diet incorporating fat replacers and non-sucrose sweeteners. DESIGN: A total of 16 male, well controlled type 2 diabetes patients were divided into two groups of eight; one group received the diet based on the American Diabetic Association’s nutrition recommendations, and the other was fed a modified, low-calorie diet containing a fat replacer (beta-glucans derived from oats) and the sweeteners, sucralose and fructose. Both groups were maintained on their respective diets for 4 weeks. All patients performed daily aerobic exercise consisting of walking for 60 minutes. Body weight, body mass index, basal glycemia, hemoglobin HbA1C, and lipid profile were determined in each patient before starting the diets and after 4 weeks of dietary intervention. RESULTS: Both diets produced significant improvements in weight, body mass index, lipid profile, basal glucose, and HbA1C. However, the beta glucan diet was superior to the American Diabetic Association’s diet in improving metabolic and anthropometric profile: greater increase in HDL cholesterol and larger decreases in HbA1C, weight, and body mass index. A diet incorporating a beta-glucans and non-sucrose sweeteners produced a greater improvement in metabolic and anthropometric variables in well controlled type 2 diabetic patients when compared with a diet based on American Diabetic Association’s nutrition recommendations.

Randomized controlled crossover study of the effect of a highly beta-glucan-enriched barley on cardiovascular disease risk factors in mildly hypercholesterolemic men.
Keogh GF, Cooper GJ, Department of Medicine, the Human Nutrition & Metabolic Unit, University of Auckland, New Zealand.

Soluble-fiber beta-glucan derived from oats can reduce cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk through reductions in total and LDL cholesterol. Barley-derived beta-glucan may also improve serum cholesterol, but large quantities are required for clinical significance. This trial investigated whether a beta-glucan-enriched form of barley can favorably modify cholesterol and other markers of CVD and diabetes risk. Eighteen mildly hyperlipidemic men were randomly assigned in this single-blind, 2 x 4-wk trial to either the treatment arm or the control arm. After a washout period of 4 wk, dietary regimens were crossed over. There was no significant change in total, LDL, or HDL cholesterol or in triacylglycerol, fasting glucose, or postprandial glucose when analyzed between treatments. CONCLUSION: The effect of beta-glucan -enriched barley on lipid profile was highly variable between subjects, and there was no evidence of a clinically significant improvement in CVD risk across this group of mildly hyperlipidemic men.

Cholesterol-lowering effect of beta-glucan from oat bran in mildly hypercholesterolemic subjects may decrease when beta-glucan is incorporated into bread and cookies.
Kerckhoffs DA. Maastricht University, Maastricht, The Netherlands.

Findings about the effects of beta-glucan on serum lipoproteins are conflicting. OBJECTIVE: The study investigated the effects of beta-glucan from oat bran in bread and cookies (study 1) and in orange juice (study 2) on serum lipoproteins in mildly hypercholesterolemic subjects. In study 1, 48 subjects (21 men, 27 women) received for 3 wk control bread and cookies rich in wheat fiber. For the next 4 wk, by random assignment, 23 subjects continued to consume the control products, and 25 received bread and cookies rich in beta-glucan. Mean daily intake of beta-glucan was 5.9 g. Total dietary fiber intake did not differ significantly between the groups. In study 2, the same sources of control fiber and beta-glucan (5 g/d) as in study 1 were provided. For 2 wk, 25 of the original 48 subjects (10 men, 15 women) were randomly assigned to consume orange juice containing either wheat fiber (n = 13) or beta-glucan from oat bran (n = 12). After a washout period of 1 wk, dietary regimens were crossed over. In study 1, the change in LDL cholesterol did not differ significantly between the 2 groups. In study 2, the drink rich in beta-glucan decreased LDL cholesterol by 0.26 and the ratio of total to HDL cholesterol by 0.26 compared with the other drink. HDL-cholesterol and triacylglycerol concentrations did not change significantly. The food matrix or the food processing, or both, could have adverse effects on the hypocholesterolemic properties of oat beta glucan.


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