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J Agric Food Chem. 2010 Jul 14;58(13):7723-30. doi: 10.1021/jf904553u.

Processing affects the physicochemical properties of beta-glucan in oat bran cereal.

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Guelph Food Research Centre, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, 93 Stone Road West, Guelph, Ontario N1G 5C9, Canada.


The tendency of mixed linkage oat beta-glucan to form viscous solutions is generally assumed to be related to its ability to lower serum cholesterol levels in humans. However, the association has not been clearly demonstrated. To conduct a clinical trial showing the relationship between LDL-cholesterol levels and viscosity, a series of extruded oat bran cereals were prepared in which the beta-glucan had a range of molecular weights and modified solubility. An extraction protocol using physiological enzymes at 37 degrees C was used to estimate the effect that the cereals would have on gut viscosity. By reducing the molecular weight from 1,930,000 to 251,000 g/mol, the apparent viscosity in the physiological extract dropped from 2900 to 131 mPa.s (at 30 s(-1)). Microscopic examination showed that as the extrusion conditions were made more severe, to cause depolymerization, the integrity of the cell walls was lost and beta-glucan dispersed throughout the cereal. Differences in the hardness and density of the extruded cereals were also evident as the molecular weight was reduced.

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