Research: Cholesterol-Lowering Links with Oat Beta-Glucan

20 Oct 2014 --- A new meta-analysis published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that daily consumption of at least 3g oat beta-glucan reduces cholesterol levels. This effect was observed in lean, overweight and obese male and female adults, with and without type 2 diabetes, across 28 randomized controlled trials. A link to the paper can be found here.

Lowering cholesterol to reduce cardiovascular risk is an accepted lifestyle modification recommended by European and US guidelines. Health claims regarding the association between cholesterol lowering and soluble fiber from at least 3g per day oat beta-glucan have been approved by food agencies worldwide, including EFSA and FDA. 

The cholesterol-lowering effect of oat beta-glucan depends on its viscosity in the small intestine, and therefore its molecular weight. A high molecular weight means it can be released from the food matrix during digestion and form a viscous gel inside the small intestine. 

Author Dr Thomas Wolever explains: “We now know more about the importance of the physico-chemical properties of oat beta-glucan in determining its ability to reduce cholesterol and blood glucose in humans. Our meta-analysis is the first to take this information into account by only including studies using high molecular weight oat beta-glucan.”

Numerous clinical studies with DSM’s OatWell oat beta-glucan also confirm this positive effect, as well as the EFSA positive opinion. The proven efficacy of OatWell formed the basis of the Article 14 EFSA submission . 

A recent paper published in the British Journal of Nutrition  looks more closely at the functional properties of oat beta-glucan. The authors review a number of studies using OatWell that demonstrate high viscosity oat beta-glucan can reduce cholesterol and the rise of blood sugar levels after eating. This included oat beta-glucan in food matrices such as oat bran and oat bran cereals .

To consume the recommended 3g per day of oat beta-glucan, only 11g of OatWell is required to achieve the same effect as three portions (up to 90g) of oats. 

EFSA Scientific Opinion on the substantiation of a health claim related to oat beta-glucan and lowering blood cholesterol and reduced risk of (coronary) heart disease pursuant to Article 14 of Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006 can be found here. 

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