What are beta glucans?
Beta glucans are soluble fibre found in the cell walls of bacteria, fungi, yeasts, algae, lichens, and plants, such as oats and barley. You have probably heard of beta glucans before. Uncle Toby’s talk about them in their television ads for oats, claiming they help with lowering cholesterol. And although it’s true, new research suggests that Beta glucans have a variety of health benefits.
Benefits of Beta glucans
- Cholesterol lowering by reducing LDL cholesterol
- Supports gut health by feeding the gut microbiota and restoring intestinal permeability
- Immune boosting by neutralising pathogens and prevent DNA damage to immune cells called lymphocytes. They are currently being researched for cancer treatment and prevention as beta glucans make cancer cells visible for the immune system to neutralise.
- Helps with weight loss by improving satiety
- Blood sugar regulating by decreasing postprandial glucose and insulin responses
How much beta glucans should I eat?
Research suggests having 3-10g of beta glucans a day can help with various health conditions but specifically:
- 5-10g has shown to reduce LDL cholesterol in patients with hypercholesterolemia
- 3 breakfasts a week, providing 7.3g of beta glucans per serve has shown to improve glycaemic control in non-insulin dependant T2DM patients
- Dosages as low as 1g have shown to have immunomodulatory effects
How do I get beta glucans?
Food sources are fairly limited. Cereals and grains are the classic source of beta glucans, however they’re also in mushrooms, algae and beans/pulses (see the Pearl Barley Risotto recipe below for a quality source of beta glucans). Beta glucans can also be taken as a dietary supplement and also intravenously (for cancer patients specifically).
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