Beta Glucans

Beta Glucans

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).


Ahmad, A., & Kaleem, M. (2018). β-Glucan as a Food Ingredient. Biopolymers For Food Design, 351-381. doi: 10.1016/b978-0-12-811449-0.00011-6

Akramienė, D., Kondrotas, A., Didžiapetrienė, J., & Kėvelaitis, E. (2007). Effects of ß-glucans on the immune system. Medicina, 43(8), 597. doi: 10.3390/medicina43080076

Chan, G. C.-F., Chan, W. K., & Sze, D. M.-Y. (2009). The effects of β-glucan on human immune and cancer cells. Journal of Hematology & Oncology, 2, 25. 2-25

El Khoury, D., Cuda, C., Luhovyy, B. L., & Anderson, G. H. (2012). Beta glucan: health benefits in obesity and metabolic syndrome. Journal of nutrition and metabolism, 2012, 851362. doi:10.1155/2012/851362

Kim, H. S., Hong, J. T., Kim, Y., & Han, S.-B. (2011). Stimulatory Effect of β-glucans on Immune Cells. Immune Network, 11(4), 191–195.

Leentjens, J., Quintin, J., Gerretsen, J., Kox, M., Pickkers, P., & Netea, M. (2014). The Effects of Orally Administered Beta-Glucan on Innate Immune Responses in Humans, a Randomized Open-Label Intervention Pilot Study. Plos ONE, 9(9), e108794. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0108794

NAKASHIMA, A., YAMADA, K., IWATA, O., SUGIMOTO, R., ATSUJI, K., & OGAWA, T. et al. (2018). β-Glucan in Foods and Its Physiological Functions. Journal Of Nutritional Science And Vitaminology, 64(1), 8-17. doi: 10.3177/jnsv.64.8

Stier, H., Ebbeskotte, V., & Gruenwald, J. (2014). Immune-modulatory effects of dietary Yeast Beta-1,3/1,6-D-glucan. Nutrition Journal, 13, 38.

Sarah practices Nutrition at Health Space Newtown. Call 9557 1277 to book.

Author: Sarah Gunther

Sarah Gunther is a qualified clinical Nutritionist at Health Space Newtown. She is passionate about the way inflammation is expressed in the body and likes to help patients in the management of inflammatory conditions. Is inflammation affecting you?

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