Beta-glucans are dietary fibres with particularly valuable functions in the human body. They are found in oat flakes and oat bran, among other things, and have been shown to lower blood cholesterol levels. Just one portion of porridge for breakfast can lead to the health benefits. Reason enough to take a closer look at beta glucan.

What is beta-glucan?

Beta-glucan is one of the natural swelling agents among dietary fibres. They are mainly found in plant cell walls and have some special features as soluble dietary fibres.

But before we go into too much detail about beta-glucans, let’s first take a look at what dietary fibres actually are.

What are dietary fibres?

Dietary fibres are carbohydrates – more precisely, they are polysaccharides, i.e. multiple sugars. In contrast to classic carbohydrates, dietary fibres are not usable. This means that they do not function as an energy supplier, as carbohydrates usually do.

Fibre is always present in unprocessed plant foods. In animal products, on the other hand, dietary fibre is not naturally found. This is not particularly surprising if you know what dietary fibre actually is.

Dietary fibres are found in the cell walls of all unprocessed plant foods. There they serve as a scaffolding substance and thus as a natural packaging material, so to speak. In the human body, they act as mediators in digestion and ensure a healthy intestinal flora.

However, the fibre content varies from food to food. Whole grains, pulses and some vegetables such as cabbage and potatoes are particularly rich in fibre. But fruit also contains plenty of digestive fibre.

These are the 4 functions of dietary fibre in the body

In the human body, the functions of dietary fibre are at least as varied. These range from better tooth retention to lowered blood cholesterol levels.

Natural satiety

Due to the fibrous structure of dietary fibres, they are chewed longer when eaten. This produces more saliva and thus pre-digests the food and strengthens the teeth.

Due to their structure, dietary fibres also linger longer in the stomach. This reduces the feeling of hunger and ensures natural satiety. In addition to the longer retention time, dietary fibres also ensure the release of gastrointestinal hormones that influence satiety.

Healthy intestinal flora

Less appetising, but particularly important, are the functions of dietary fibres on the intestinal flora. For example, dietary fibres provide favourable growth conditions for important intestinal bacteria. In addition, the stool volume increases, which means that more toxins can be transported out of the body.

Beta Glucan verival

Natural cholesterol reducers

Soluble dietary fibres, such as beta-glucans or pectins, have been shown to lower blood cholesterol levels. According to studies, the cholesterol level can be reduced by five to 25 percent by consuming sufficient fibre-rich foods with a high proportion of soluble fibre.

Oat flakes, oat bran and beans, for example, are particularly rich in soluble fibre and thus ideal for naturally lowering bad LDL cholesterol. Insoluble dietary fibres such as cellulose, on the other hand, do not seem to have any significant effect on cholesterol.

Stable blood sugar levels

Another positive effect of dietary fibre is on blood sugar levels. According to the study, soluble dietary fibres reduce the insulin response and thus ensure a more stable blood sugar level. This is true for healthy people as well as for diabetics.

Thus, dietary fibres can indirectly protect against obesity, type 2 diabetes mellitus and numerous cardiovascular diseases.

Is beta-glucan healthy?

Since beta-glucans are soluble dietary fibres, they have numerous positive effects on the body. For example, in-vivo studies have found that beta-glucans can improve the immune system. In the studies, this led to a reduction in infections and cancer and, in the long term, to a reduction in mortality.

With regard to obesity, it should be emphasised that beta-glucans can increase satiety and positively influence cholesterol and blood sugar levels. This plays an important role in the prevention of obesity and associated diseases.

Diabetes mellitus type 2, the metabolic syndrome and possibly even high blood pressure could thus be prevented by sufficient consumption of beta-glucans.

What is the daily requirement of beta-glucan?

Beta-glucans, as representatives of the soluble dietary fibres, have great health benefits. But how much beta-glucan does the body need per day?

Currently, about three grams per day are recommended. This means that beta-glucan already makes up about 50% of the recommended daily requirement of soluble dietary fibres.

The question remains how this amount of beta glucans can be achieved. Fortunately, there are some valuable sources that can already cover a large part of the requirement at breakfast.

Which foods are particularly high in beta-glucan?

Beta-glucan has been studied in detail in the past because of its positive effects on the body. It has also been determined which foods are particularly good sources.

Oats and barley are particularly rich in beta-glucans. But the healthy dietary fibres are also found in other foods.

Beta Glucan - Auswirkungen auf deinen Körper
Fitness and health concept. Stethoscope, rolled oat and heart shape

Oat products

Oats are considered one of those foods that contain the most beta-glucan. Oat flakes are therefore an excellent source of dietary fibre with numerous health benefits. However, oat bran is even more suitable when it comes to taking advantage of beta-glucan.

This is because beta-glucan content is highest in oat bran. Oat bran has about twice as much beta glucan as conventional oat flakes.

100 grams of oat bran thus contain around 6.3 grams of beta glucan. In addition, they have an increased amount of minerals, trace elements and vitamins. Biotin, iron and B vitamins in particular are present in high quantities.

This is why we at Verival use oat bran instead of oat flakes in many porridges. This makes for a healthy breakfast that satisfies for a long time and keeps the cardiovascular system and intestinal flora healthy.

Barley

Next to oats, barley is considered the best source of beta-glucan.

Barley was already considered an indispensable staple food in ancient Egypt. In addition to its satiating effect, the popular cereal was said to have healing powers early on. While for the ancient Egyptians and Greeks this was still something considered spiritual, today we know that the positive effect can be attributed to the dietary fibres.

100 grams of barley grains contain up to five grams of beta glucan. The content is thus between that of oat flakes and oat bran.

Mushrooms

Mushrooms are considered extremely healthy. And rightly so. Especially the so-called mushrooms are said to have numerous positive health properties. These range from antiviral and antibacterial properties to the prevention of tumours. Boletus mushrooms and classic mushrooms belong to the group of pillar mushrooms.

In terms of beta-glucan content, however, none can compete with the varieties reishi, shiitake as well as maitake.

Algae

Algae are true gold mines in terms of nutrients. Depending on the variety, algae contain between ten and one hundred times more vitamins and minerals than land plants or animal products.

Numerous water- and fat-soluble vitamins and minerals are found in algae. But also significant amounts of beta-glucan, especially in green and brown algae.

Beta-glucan has these numerous positive effects in your body

In summary, we can say that dietary fibres are extremely healthy. Beta glucans in particular seem to be of great importance for the maintenance and health of the body.

1. long-lasting satiety

Beta glucan, as a soluble fibre, ensures a longer chewing process as well as a longer retention time of the food in the stomach. In addition, it induces the release of hormones that influence satiety. This provides a natural feeling of satiety and protects against overeating.

2. natural cholesterol reducer

Some studies have looked at beta glucan and its effect on blood cholesterol levels. Researchers have found that the soluble dietary fibre can effectively lower the problematic LDL cholesterol. Beta glucan thus acts as a natural cholesterol-lowering agent – without any side effects.

3. avoids obesity

The prevention of obesity and the associated cardiovascular diseases are among the greatest achievements of soluble fibre. Beta glucan achieves this by regulating saturation, blood sugar levels and cholesterol.

4. prevent high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.

By regulating blood sugar, beta glucan can also prevent type 2 diabetes. In addition, the fibre seems to be able to prevent high blood pressure.

If you want to get a healthy dose of beta glucans at breakfast, the ideal way to do this is with an oat bran-based porridge. We wish you a good appetite and a healthy start to the day!

Nico

Sportwissenschafter

Ich bin studierter Sportwissenschafter und angehender Journalist. Neben meiner Faszination für Sport und das Schreiben blättere ich gerne durch die Fachbücher der Ernährungswissenschaft. Sport und Ernährung gehen für mich Hand in Hand, wenn es um einen gesunden Lebensstil geht.