We are passionate about food that is good for our bodies and also tastes great. This month we explore the health benefits of oats, specifically looking at oat beta glucans.
What are beta glucans?
They are a type of soluble fibre (a carbohydrate we do not absorb), found in the cell wall of oats (and barley). When we eat them they swell and absorb water to form a gel in our stomach, which has interesting, positive health effects.
Why are beta glucans good for me?
Beta glucans have two main mechanisms of action that are good for our health.
- They decrease our blood cholesterol levels by interfering with the reabsorption of bile acids used in digestion. As bile acids are made from cholesterol stored in our liver this in turn reduces total and LDL blood cholesterol levels.
- They reduce the rate at which we absorb the carbohydrate in our meal, lowering our glycaemic response (blood sugar levels) after eating.
The EU body that regulates health claims on foods has reviewed the available scientific evidence and concluded that…
‘Oat Beta Glucans have been show to lower/reduce blood cholesterol. High cholesterol is a risk factor for coronary heart disease’.
‘Consumption of Beta Glucans from oats or barley contributes to the reduction of the blood glucose rise after a meal’.
Where can I find them?
Oats and barley – however it’s important to note that barley is not gluten free.
How much do I need a day?
Current guidance is to aim for 3g of beta glucan a day to gain the cholesterol lowering benefits they offer. To put this into context see the table below:
|Beta glucan content
|2 slices oat bread
|250ml oat milk
Fancy a quick and easy way to get your daily dose of beta glucans? Check out our new recipe – Berry Oaty vegan smoothie.
Also to see whether oats are okay to eat in Coeliac disease check out our blog on the subject here.