New research on oat beta-glucan confirms role of viscosity in achieving greater cholesterol lowering benefits
Lowering cholesterol to reduce cardiovascular risk is an accepted lifestyle modification recommended by European2 and US3 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 EFSA4 and FDA5. 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 submission6.
A recent paper published in the British Journal of Nutrition7 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 cereals8.
To consume the recommended 3 g per day of oat beta-glucan, only 11 g of OatWell is required to achieve the same effect as three portions (up to 90 g) 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.
1 Cholesterol-lowering effects of oat b-glucan: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. AJCN. First published ahead of print October 15, 2014 as doi: 10.3945/ajcn.114.086108
2 The Task Force for the management of dyslipidaemias of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) and the European Atherosclerosis Society (EAS). ESC/EAS Guidelines for the management of dyslipidaemias. Eur Heart J 2011;32:1769–818.
3 Expert Panel on Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Cholesterol in Adults. Executive Summary of the Third Report of the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) Expert Panel on Detection. JAMA 2001;285:2486-97.
4 Expert Panel on Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Cholesterol in Adults. Executive Summary of the Third Report of the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) Expert Panel on Detection. JAMA 2001;285:2486-97.
5 USA Food and Drug Administration. Health claims: Soluble fiber from certain foods and the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD). Code of Federal Regulations Title 2; Section 101.81. www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/CFRSearch.cfm?fr=101.81 Accessed November 14, 2013.
6 EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA). 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. EFSA Journal 2010;8:1885[15 pp.].
7 Oat β-glucan: physico-chemical characteristics in relation to its blood-glucose and cholesterol-lowering properties. British Journal of Nutrition (2014), 112, S4–S13
8 Glycemic response to extruded oat bran cereals processed to vary in molecular weight. Cereal Chemistry (2012), 89, 255–261.