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Ann Fam Med. 2009 Mar-Apr;7(2):157-63. doi: 10.1370/afm.917.

The effects of barley-derived soluble fiber on serum lipids.

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  • 1University of Connecticut School of Pharmacy, Storrs, Connecticut, USA.



We wanted to determine the association between consumption of barley and changes in plasma lipids in healthy and hypercholesterolemic men and women.


A systematic literature search was conducted from the earliest possible date through January 2008. Trials were included in the analysis if they were randomized controlled trials of barley that reported efficacy data on at least 1 lipid endpoint. A DerSimonian and Laird random-effects model was used in calculating the weighted mean difference (WMD) and its 95% confidence interval (CI). Statistical heterogeneity was addressed using the I(2) statistic. Visual inspection of funnel plots, Egger's weighted regression statistics, and the trim and fill method were used to assess for publication bias.


We found 8 trials (n = 391 patients) of 4 to 12 weeks' duration evaluating the lipid-reducing effects of barley. The use of barley significantly lowered total cholesterol (weighted mean difference [WMD], -13.38 mg/dL; 95% CI, -18.46 to -8.31 mg/dL), low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (WMD, -10.02 mg/dL; 95% CI, -14.03 to -6.00 mg/dL) and triglycerides (WMD, -11.83 mg/dL; 95% CI, -20.12 to -3.55 mg/dL) but did not appear to significantly alter high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (P=.07).


Barley-derived beta-glucan appears to beneficially affect total cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol, and triglycerides, but not HDL-cholesterol.

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