The growing trend of improving health through dietary changes has brought numerous healthy superfoods into the spotlight.
Fiber is one such food group that has earned significant recognition among health enthusiasts for it’s beta glucan health benefits.
Wait… what? Another article on fiber?
Yes, and no. You have heard and read enough about fiber, but less about beta glucan.
That’s right. Beta-glucan is a particular type of fiber that is power-packed with so many health benefits. Unlike typical plant-based fiber, beta-glucan is found in a multitude of other non-plant sources. We’ll come back to this shortly.
Let’s walk you through an overview of this key health secret of weight watchers and dieters.
Beta Glucan as The Ultimate Fiber Superfood
Also known as β‐glucan and BG, beta glucan is a type of dietary fiber that occurs naturally in the cell walls of bacteria, algae, fungi (especially yeasts), and seaweed. However, a large group is also found in whole grains (including your cereals).
Generally, beta-glucans exists in two primary forms:
- Soluble Beta-Glucans – Like soluble fibers, soluble beta-glucans absorb slowly through your gut into the blood. Because of their slow absorption, soluble beta-glucans take more time to move to the large intestine.
- Insoluble Beta-Glucans – Because they do not absorb through the gut, the insoluble beta-glucans take less time to move through the stomach, increasing fecal bulk.
The effectiveness and health benefits of beta-glucans depend upon their type, which we will discuss shortly.
The Health Benefits that Have Taken Health Enthusiasts by Storm
According to this study published in the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism, beta-glucans offer an array of health benefits by supporting gut health, heart health, the immune system, and easing skin conditions.
Would you like to improve the quality of your life by incorporating beta-glucans in your diet?
Keep reading further because the following health benefits of this wonder-food will amaze you!
Gear Up for a Healthy Gut
Beta-glucans are food fibers, which means they will keep you full for a long time and help prevent you from overeating.
And there is scientific data to back this up:
This study published in the Journal of Food Science and Technology says daily consumption of 4-7 grams of beta-glucans reduce hunger and increase satiety. The reduced appetite associated with eating beta-glucans makes it the perfect food group for people who overeat a lot.
Result? You could end up losing weight!
Another study revealed that daily intake of 7 grams of beta-glucans over 12 weeks helps in fat loss in overweight men by reducing body mass and waist circumference.
If you are struggling with weight issues and want to shed a few extra pounds healthily, start getting your daily dose of beta-glucans!
The New Secret for a Happy Heart
When it comes to improving cardiovascular health, beta-glucans play a prominent role in reducing the risk of coronary artery disease.
In fact, this study published in the journal Nutrients revealed that:
Beta-glucans that are derived from whole oats, barley, or a combination of both and soluble fiber from psyllium reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.
And they do so by targeting the low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in our body:
Studies have shown that daily consumption of 3-10 grams of beta-glucans and a healthy diet have demonstrated benefits in improving overall health.
Take Control of Diabetes
Remember when we explained how soluble beta-glucans absorb slowly through your gut into the blood?
These super fibers do so for a reason:
This study published in the journal of Vascular Health and Risk Management has shown that beta-glucans reduce the risk of glucose intolerance due to their ability to absorb glucose slowly from the gut.
Typically, glucose levels in our blood spike soon after we eat a carbohydrate-rich meal. Beta-glucans slow down this entire process, minimizing the risk of glucose intolerance, and ultimately reducing the risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes.
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Beef Up Your Natural Body Defense
The extensive health benefits of beta-glucans are primarily associated with the source from which they are derived. For instance, protein-bound polysaccharide (PSK) are beta-glucans found in medicinal mushrooms. Studies have shown that PSK protects our bodies from different forms of cancer.
Beta-glucans also strengthen our immune system and defend our bodies against infectious diseases, like cold, flu, respiratory tract infections, allergies, and much more. By incorporating this special food can help our body, we can limit our downtime from these ailments and improve the quality of our lives.
The Beta-Glucan Packed Food Groups
You can find beta glucans in several food groups. Let’s have a look at a few:
Whole grains, aka cereal grains, are deliciously jam-packed with beta-glucans. Barley is the most abundant source, followed by oatmeal. Other whole grains that are rich in beta-glucans include wheat, rye, maize, and triticale.
Medicinal mushrooms are loaded with health-boosting nutrients, including beta-glucans. Some common beta-glucan rich medicinal mushrooms include yun zhi, reishi, and maitake.
Yeasts, Seaweeds, and Algae
Baker’s yeasts, brown seaweeds, and euglena algae are excellent sources of beta-glucans.
Beta-glucans are also found in peas and lentils.
Fruits and Vegetables
Less abundant sources of beta-glucans include broccoli, sweet potato, eggplant, apples, strawberries, and prunes.
We wish there was enough scientific evidence supporting the exact dosage requirements of supplemental beta-glucans. However, there is some research recommending their use of in reducing cholesterol:
- The Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) have testified that the daily consumption of 3 grams of beta glucans reduces total cholesterol levels by 5-8%.
- Natural glucan molecules can serve as promising treatment options in people with dyslipidemia (high lipids in the blood).
Associated Risks and Side Effects
There is enough evidence to support the endless list of beta glucans’ health benefits, but we know what you are thinking next:
What are the side effects?
Luckily, beta glucans have a proven track record of being super safe and having minimum risks. The only problem associated with beta-glucans is if you take them in excess which could cause some intestinal upset.
As a general rule of thumb, it’s best to consult your healthcare provider before starting beta-glucans supplementation. If you are on immune-suppressing medications, beta-glucans can reduce the efficacy of your drugs.
Beta-glucans are particular types of fibers that are found in grains, beans, vegetables, and fruits, and within the cellular structure of some bacteria, yeast, algae, and seaweed. To date, numerous studies have demonstrated the health benefits of beta-glucans in reducing cholesterol, improving cardiovascular health, strengthening the immune system, and regulating blood glucose. Both the FDA and EFPA support the claim that daily intake of 3-10 grams of beta-glucans can significantly improve metabolic and heart health.
Are you taking beta-glucans in your diet? What are your favorite food sources of beta-glucans? Are you realizing the potential beta glucan health benefits in these foods?
Let us know in the comments section below!