Beta-Glucans: A Fiber After Your Own Heart
When we think of fiber, we often think of digestive health and weight loss. Foods containing high amounts of fiber help regulate our energy levels and bowel movements, and tend to keep us feeling fuller, longer. While this is true of almost any fiber, not all of them are created equal.
There’s one type of fiber that stands out among the rest: beta-glucans. This soluble fiber is found in bacteria, fungi, and plants—and their benefits may go much farther than you think! Read on to discover the top three benefits of beta-glucans, according to research.
A wide body of research suggests that beta-glucans may help lower cholesterol and triglycerides—both key factors of cardiovascular health. In fact, a 2011 study published in Nutrition Reviews found that consuming at least three grams of beta-glucans daily reduced LDL levels (i.e. the bad cholesterol) by up to 7%. Additionally, both the FDA and the European Food Safety Authority have approved food label claims to back this heart-healthy fiber.
Blood sugar management
Beta-glucans may help regulate blood sugar by providing a sustainable energy source. Because fiber slows the release of glucose into the bloodstream, insulin levels are also regulated, which means you’ll avoid the dreaded energy crash that often occurs after a carb-heavy meal. For those with blood sugar- related conditions, consuming more beta-glucans may be a particularly helpful tool for management.
Some research suggests that beta-glucans may positively interact with cells to bolster immunity, helping the body fight off foreign invaders and sickness more easily. Caring for your immune system is a top priority now more than ever—so that’s one more reason to celebrate beta-glucans!
Where can I get them?
Foods containing high amounts of beta-glucans include whole grains, oats, bran, wheat, and barley. Like other fibers, beta-glucans also come in supplement form. For anyone looking to add more of this healthful fiber to their diet, supplements may be a simple and convenient way to do so. Ask your healthcare practitioner how you can incorporate more beta-glucans into your daily regimen.