Beta-glucan benefits may extend across ethnic groups: Study

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Beta-glucan benefits may extend across ethnic groups: Study

Related tags: Oat, Atherosclerosis

The potential of oat beta-glucan to reduce cholesterol levels may extend across different ethnic groups, says a new study from Canada.

Beta-glucan from oats is renowned for its potential to reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol. The FDA allows a health clam on reduced risk of heart disease, while the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has published a positive (article 14) health claim on the cause and effect of oat beta-glucan lowering cholesterol. A 13.1 article claim was approved related to maintenance of normal blood LDL-cholesterol concentrations.

While the data appears robust, the researchers behind the new study note that the majority of the evidence to date comes from studies in Caucasians.

Results of their new post-hoc analysis of data from a randomized, controlled, double-blind, clinical trial indicated that the benefits do indeed extend to non-Caucasians.

Indeed, the results suggested that the benefits were greater in non-Caucasians, with LDL reductions of 10% observed, compared with about 5% in Caucasians. However, there was no statistically significant difference between the groups, they added.

Furthermore, the researchers caution that the study was not initially intended to compare the cholesterol-lowering effect of oat beta-glucan in different ethnic groups, and that the “results should be interpreted with caution”​.

The study involved scientists from the Canada’s Glycemic Index Laboratories, the University of Toronto, Université Laval, Agriculture and Agri-Foods Canada, and the University of Guelph; the University of Sydney in Australia; the UK’s Reading Scientific Services, and CreaNutrition AG from Switzerland.

The source of the beta glucan used in the cereals was Oatwell oat bran, supplied by CreaNutrition. The Swiss company co-funded the study, along with the Swedish Governmental Agency for Innovations Systems (VINNOVA), and Agriculture and Agri-Foods Canada.

Study details

The study involved 345 people with elevated LDL cholesterol levels, and randomly assigned them to receive a manufactured extruded cereal with one of four different additions for four weeks: wheat fibre; 3g high molecular weight (MW) beta glucan; 4g medium MW beta glucan; 3g medium MW beta glucan; or 4g low MW beta glucan. The doses were split across two servings a day.

A reduction in LDL cholesterol levels was reported in all three beta-glucan groups, with reductions of about 5% in Caucasians and 10% in non-Caucasians, said the researchers.

“Our results showing that oat beta-glucan lowered LDL-cholesterol in non-Caucasians may be helpful to support global efforts to reduce coronary heart disease risk,”​ they concluded.

Source: Nutrition Journal
 2011, 10​:130 doi:10.1186/1475-2891-10-130
 “Bioactive oat beta-glucan reduces LDL cholesterol in Caucasians and non-Caucasians”
 Authors: T.M.S. Wolever, A.L. Gibbs, J. Brand-Miller, A.M. Duncan, V. Hart, B. Lamarche, S.M. Tosh, R. Duss

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