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Diet & Nutrition

What is beta glucan and why is it good for me?

Question:
What is beta glucan and why is it good for me?
Answer:
Beta glucan is a type of soluble fibre. Although it is found in all cereal grains, barley and oats are known to be particularly rich sources. Beta glucan and its benefits for heart health have been studied extensively. It is believed that beta glucan is heart-protective because of its ability to lower cholesterol, in particular, the re-absorption of LDL (bad) cholesterol.
How does 'lowering cholesterol re-absorption' work?
Cholesterol enters our digestive tract from the food we eat as well as from bile produced by the liver. Some choelsterol is then re-absorbed back into the body through our blood. Beta-glucan blocks the re-absorption of some of this cholesterol by 'soaking it up' and it is then removed from the body through our bowel motions. This means less cholesterol circulates in our system.
How much beta glucan do I need in order to get these benefits?
Although there are no recommendations in Australia for daily intake of beta glucan, the US Food & Drug Administration and the UK Joint Health Claims Initiative recommend that we consume three grams of beta glucan each day.
One hundred grams of rolled oats will provide around four grams of beta glucan. So, choose breakfast cereals that contain oats, add oats to your baking (delicious in biscuits and crumble), include barley in soups and casseroles and choose bread with added oats and barley.
This information is provided by The Sanitarium Nutrition Service
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