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J Nutr. 2010 Nov;140(11):1932-6. doi: 10.3945/jn.110.123604. Epub 2010 Sep 1.

A cereal-based evening meal rich in indigestible carbohydrates increases plasma butyrate the next morning.

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Division of Applied Nutrition and Food Chemistry, Department of Food Technology, Engineering and Nutrition, Lund University, SE-22100 Lund, Sweden.


Epidemiological studies have shown an inverse relation between a whole grain consumption and risk of type-2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. One tentative mechanism relates to colonic metabolism of indigestible carbohydrates. In a previous study, we reported a positive relation between colonic fermentation and improved glucose tolerance. This work can be seen as an extension of that study, focusing on the tentative role of specific colonic metabolites, i.e. SCFA. Plasma concentrations of acetate, propionate, and butyrate were determined in the morning in healthy participants (5 women and 10 men, mean ± SD: 25.9 ± 3.2 y, BMI < 25) following 8 different cereal-based evening meals (50 g available starch) varying in content of indigestible carbohydrates. Each participant consumed all test meals in a random order on separate evenings. At a standardized breakfast following evening test meals, the postprandial glucose response (incremental area under the curve, 0-120 min) was inversely related to plasma butyrate (r = -0.26; P < 0.01) and acetate (r = -0.20; P < 0.05) concentrations. Evening meals composed of high-amylose barley kernels or high-β-glucan barley kernels resulted in higher plasma butyrate concentrations the following morning compared with an evening meal with white wheat bread (P < 0.05). The results support the view that cereal products rich in indigestible carbohydrates may improve glucose tolerance through a mechanism involving colonic fermentation and generation of SCFA, where in particular butyric acid may be involved. This mechanism may be one explanation by which whole grain is protective against type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

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