Monograph Center

Beta-Glucan

Released by Natural Medicines

June 1, 2011

Beta-glucan is a soluble fiber derived from the cell walls of algae, bacteria, fungi, yeasts, and plants. It is commonly used for its cholesterol-lowering effects. Beta-glucans have also been used to treat diabetes and for weight loss.

Beta-glucan is a soluble fiber derived from the cell walls of algae, bacteria, fungi, yeasts, and plants. It is commonly used for its cholesterol-lowering effects. Beta-glucans have also been used to treat diabetes and for weight loss.

Concentrated yeast-derived beta-glucan is more easily incorporated into food products than grain beta-glucans, which are found in cereal grains such as oats and barley. Yeast-derived beta-glucan is also more palatable than oat because it is not soluble in water and does not become viscous in water as beta-glucan from oats does. However, oat derived beta-glucan may have a higher therapeutic benefit potential.

The use of beta-glucan is a relatively new practice. Practitioners have used beta-glucan as an immunostimulant or as an adjunct cancer treatment. Beta-glucan is also used for its cholesterol-lowering effects and glycemic (blood sugar) control. In 1997, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) passed a ruling that allowed oat bran to be registered as the first cholesterol-reducing food at an amount of 3 grams beta-glucan daily.
 

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