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J Am Coll Nutr. 2008 Jun;27(3):434-40.

Physiological effects of concentrated barley beta-glucan in mildly hypercholesterolemic adults.

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  • 1Department of Food Science and Nutrition, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN 55108, USA.



Barley fiber rich in beta-glucans lowers serum lipids, but is difficult to incorporate into products acceptable to consumers. We investigated the physiological effects of two concentrated barley beta-glucans on cardiovascular disease (CVD) endpoints and body weight in human subjects.


Hypercholesterolemic men and women (n = 90) were randomly assigned to one of two treatments: low molecular weight (low-MW) or high molecular weight (high-MW) concentrated barley beta-glucan consumed as a daily supplement containing 6 grams beta-glucan/day. Fasting blood samples were collected at baseline and week 6 and analyzed for total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, glucose, insulin, homocysteine and C-reactive protein (CRP). Dietary intakes, body weights, blood pressure, hunger ratings, and gastrointestinal symptoms were measured at baseline and 6 weeks.


The only difference between treatments in lipid outcomes at week 6 was a reduction of the cholesterol/HDL ratio in the low-MW group and a small increase in the high-MW group. No changes were found in blood pressure, glucose, insulin, and gastrointestinal symptoms. Body weight decreased from baseline to 6 weeks in the high-MW group while body weight increased in the low-MW group. Levels of hunger decreased slightly in the low-MW group and decreased significantly in the high-MW group (P = 0.02)


Overall, supplementation with isolated barley beta-glucans of different molecular weights had small effects on cardiovascular disease markers. Molecular weight of the barley fiber did alter effects on body weight with the high-MW fiber significantly decreasing body weight.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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