What is Beta Glucan and why is it good for me?
You may be wondering what the big deal is about this so called ‘beta-glucan’. If you flip over a box of cereal containing oats, I can almost guarantee that there will be a claim around it! (please do not hold that against me if you do not see one though!) There has been a lot of hype about how it can help your heart by helping reduce blood cholesterol and boosting your immune system, which clearly is all great news! But what exactly is it?
Beta glucan is a type of soluble fibre. Although it is found in all cereal grains, barley and oats are known to be particularly rich sources. Beta glucan and its benefits for heart health have been studied extensively. It is believed that beta glucan is heart-protective because of its ability to lower cholesterol, in particular, the re-absorption of LDL (bad) cholesterol.
How does “lowering cholesterol re-absorption” work?
Cholesterol enters our digestive tract from the food we eat as well as from bile produced by the liver. Some cholesterol is then re-absorbed back into the body through our blood. Beta-glucan blocks the re-absorption of some of this cholesterol by ‘soaking it up’ and it is then removed from the body through our bowel motions. This means less cholesterol circulates in our system.
So where can you get it from?
Well, beta-glucan can be found in all cereal wholegrains, but the best source comes from the wholegrains barley and oats. Australia currently has no recommended daily intake set for beta- glucan, although in the US and UK the recommendations for beta glucan are set at 3g each day (to give you a rough estimate-100g of rolled wholegrain oats contain approximately 4g of beta-glucan). As our barley and oats 1st range contain both BARLEYmax and oats, you actually get far more beta glucans in the one serve, than you would from having regular oats alone.
Some easy and practical ways to increase your intake of beta-glucan in your diet include; choosing breakfast cereals and breads that contain oats and/or barley (Goodness Superfoods Heart 1st breakfast cereal is specifically formulated to be particularly high in both these grains or our new porridge ranges).
Add oats into your baking- they work great in muffins, biscuits, crumbles and slices. Or add barley into hearty savoury dishes. They work great in these, for example in chunky soups and casseroles.