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Eur J Clin Nutr. 2016 Nov;70(11):1239-1245. doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2016.89. Epub 2016 Jun 8.

A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials of the effect of barley β-glucan on LDL-C, non-HDL-C and apoB for cardiovascular disease risk reductioni-iv.

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Clinical Nutrition and Risk Factor Modification Centre, St. Michael's Hospital, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Department of Nutritional Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, St. Michael's Hospital, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Division of Endocrinology & Medicine, St. Michael's Hospital, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Toronto 3D Knowledge Synthesis and Clinical Trials Unit, St. Michael's Hospital, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.



There has been recent interest in barley as a therapeutic food owing to its high content of beta-glucan (β-glucan), a viscous soluble fiber recognized for its cholesterol-lowering properties. The objective of this study was to conduct a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) investigating the cholesterol-lowering potential of barley β-glucan on low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), non-high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (non-HDL-C) and apolipoprotein B (apoB) for cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk reduction.


MEDLINE, Embase, CINAHL and the Cochrane CENTRAL were searched. We included RCTs of ⩾3-week duration assessing the effect of diets enriched with barley β-glucan compared with controlled diets on LDL-C, non-HDL-C or apoB. Two independent reviewers extracted relevant data and assessed study quality and risk of bias. Data were pooled using the generic inverse-variance method with random effects models and expressed as mean differences (MDs) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs). Heterogeneity was assessed by the Cochran Q-statistic and quantified by the I2 statistic.


Fourteen trials (N=615) were included in the final analysis. A median dose of 6.5 and 6.9 g/day of barley β-glucan for a median duration of 4 weeks significantly reduced LDL-C (MD=-0.25 mmol/l (95% CI: -0.30, -0.20)) and non-HDL-C (MD=-0.31 mmol/l (95% CI: -0.39, -0.23)), respectively, with no significant changes to apoB levels, compared with control diets. There was evidence of considerable unexplained heterogeneity in the analysis of non-HDL-C (I2=98%).


Pooled analyses show that barley β-glucan has a lowering effect on LDL-C and non-HDL-C. Inclusion of barley-containing foods may be a strategy for achieving targets in CVD risk reduction.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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