Reference Number: 21
Despite the lack of international agreement regarding the definition and classification of fiber, there is established evidence on the role of dietary fibers in obesity and metabolic syndrome. Beta glucan (beta-glucan) is a soluble fiber readily available from oat and barley grains that has been gaining interest due to its multiple functional and bioactive properties. Its beneficial role in insulin resistance, dyslipidemia, hypertension, and obesity is being continuously documented. The fermentability of beta-glucans and their ability to form highly viscous solutions in the human gut may constitute the basis of their health benefits. Consequently, the applicability of beta-glucan as a food ingredient is being widely considered with the dual purposes of increasing the fiber content of food products and enhancing their health properties.
This review paper explores the role of beta-glucans in the prevention and treatment of characteristics of the metabolic syndrome, their underlying mechanisms of action, and their potential in food applications.
It is clear that beta-glucan is an important food component in the modulation of metabolic dysregulations associated with the metabolic syndrome. However, dose, form, molecular weight, and the carrier food of beta-glucan shape its effect. The physiological effects of beta-glucan are mainly attributed to its physicochemical and structural characteristics interacting with the gastrointestinal tract, as reflected by its ability to generate viscous solutions at low concentrations in the upper part of the gastrointestinal tract and to undergo fermentation in the colon. Although the physiological effects of ingested beta-glucan are similar to other soluble fibers, its availability and ease of handling leads it to be increasingly incorporated into foods with the purpose of increasing daily fiber consumption. However, challenges in incorporating beta-glucan into some food items without compromising their sensorial properties and their acceptance by consumers do still exist, and need to be resolved.
SIGNIFICANCE OF THIS STUDY
Beta glucans are the main source of soluble fibres present in cereals such as oats. This paper highlights the importance of beta glucans as a potential food component in preventing obesity and metabolic disorders, however the effects are highly dependent on the quantity and type of beta glucans consumed. Being a soluble fibre, it also helps maintain a healthy gut microbiome which is key to overall health and wellbeing. Adding oats which are rich in beta glucans into sourdough bakes will therefore help boost the nutritional quality of your breads and provide added health benefits.