Beta-glucan is a soluble fiber found naturally in cereal grains, yeast, and certain mushrooms. It is also sold as a supplement.
As a soluble fiber, beta-glucan is not digested but can slow food transit in the intestines. As a result, carbohydrates are absorbed slower, resulting in more steady blood sugar. In addition, it may remove cholesterol with it as it goes.
Dietary supplements are not regulated like drugs in the United States, meaning the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not approve them for safety and effectiveness before products are marketed. When possible, choose a supplement tested by a trusted third party, such as USP, ConsumerLabs, or NSF.
However, even if supplements are third-party tested, that doesn’t mean they are necessarily safe for all or effective in general. Therefore, it is important to talk to your healthcare provider about any supplements you plan to take and to check in about any potential interactions with other supplements or medications.
- Active Ingredient(s): Beta-glucan
- Suggested Dose: 3 to 6 grams beta-glucan daily
- Safety Considerations: Start slowly if supplementing and drink plenty of water
Uses of Beta-Glucan
Supplement use should be individualized and vetted by a healthcare professional, such as a registered dietitian, pharmacist, or healthcare provider. No supplement is intended to treat, cure, or prevent disease.
The FDA has approved health claims for certain soluble fibers, including beta-glucan. Given a certain type of soluble fiber and a recommended amount of fiber (or beta-glucan) per serving, food manufacturers can say this food can reduce the risk of heart disease in conjunction with a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol.
Additionally, beta-glucan has been studied for its role in blood sugar and blood pressure management in people with diabetes and hypertension, respectively.
Beta-glucan has also been looked at for its role in helping the body fend off colds, flu, and even cancer, as well as increasing defenses against the harmful effects of stress. However, there is very little scientific support for these suggested benefits. Below are uses of beta-glucan that have some evidence of support.
Beta-glucan may prevent cholesterol absorption from food, helping to lower blood cholesterol levels.
According to a 2011 report, the beta-glucan found in oats may help keep cholesterol in check. Looking at studies conducted over the previous 13 years, the report's authors determined that oat-derived beta-glucan may significantly reduce levels of total and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or "bad" cholesterol. The authors noted that, on average, daily oat consumption is associated with 5% and 7% reductions in total and LDL cholesterol levels, respectively.
A 2014 meta-analysis found similar results. The researchers focused on studies that included at least 3 grams (g) of beta-glucan daily. They found it reduced total and LDL cholesterol but did not impact high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels or triglycerides.
A meta-analysis published in 2016 also found that oat beta-glucan reduced LDL cholesterol. Doses of about 6 grams daily for four weeks had a statistically significant lowering effect on LDL cholesterol levels.
The largest meta-analysis assessed 59 clinical trials comparing an oat supplement intervention to a control group. The results showed an overall reduction in total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, blood glucose, body weight, body mass index, and waist circumference. While the differences were statistically significant, the question of clinical significance remains. For example, those in the oat supplementation group lost about 1 kilogram more weight (about 2 pounds). This underscores the importance of overall diet modification for reducing heart disease risk, which can be done in addition to adding food sources of beta-glucan.
Research suggests that beta-glucan may help manage diabetes by controlling blood sugar levels when incorporated into the diet.
A meta-analysis published in 2014 confirmed these findings but noted that beta-glucan alone was not enough to achieve regular blood sugar readings in people with diabetes. Additionally, a more recent meta-analysis found that long-term beta-glucan intake of an oat beta-glucan supplement at 5 grams per day improved metabolic control, including blood sugar, in people with type 2 diabetes.
Overall, beta-glucan may be helpful to use in conjunction with prescribed treatment and diet modifications. However, it should never replace standard medical care.
Dietary fiber intake may help lower blood pressure. The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet, which includes the intake of fruits, vegetables, and high-fiber foods, is often recommended for blood pressure management.
A meta-analysis published in 2018 evaluated studies looking at the effect of fiber on blood pressure. Overall, fiber was found to reduce systolic and diastolic blood pressure. However, it should be noted that they looked at several types of fiber, not just beta-glucan. In fact, only psyllium lowered systolic blood pressure (SBP).
Additionally, the reduction in blood pressure was small, and adding fiber should not be the only method used to manage high blood pressure.
Most people don't get enough fiber in their diet. Beta-glucans are one type of fiber found most commonly in oats and barley. Higher intakes of beta-glucan (and fiber in general) may help to reduce cholesterol, manage blood sugar levels in people with diabetes, and possibly lower blood pressure.
Although research shows improvements are statistically significant, beta-glucans alone will not be enough. If you are trying to lower cholesterol, manage diabetes, or lower your blood pressure, discuss a care plan with your healthcare provider to include (but not be limited to) diet modification and medications, if needed.
There are no reports of beta-glucan deficiency. Also, there is no specific Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for beta-glucans.
However, there are recommendations for total fiber intake, and many Americans do not get enough fiber in their diet.
The Adequate Intake for fiber recommendations is 14 grams of fiber/1000 calories of intake. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) also has daily intake recommendations for fiber. It ranges from 21 to 26 grams of fiber daily for women and 30 to 38 grams daily for men, depending on age.
What Are the Side Effects of Beta-Glucan?
Although beta-glucan is generally considered safe, there may be a few side effects. Consuming too much fiber can cause gas, bloating, and flatulence. Be sure to drink enough water when increasing your fiber intake or adding beta-glucan.
People who eat a low-fiber diet should start with a lower dose of beta-glucan and increase it gradually. Like all sources of fiber, it may cause gastric distress, bloating, and gas if taken in larger-than-normal doses. The side effects should wear off over time, but slowly introducing it can help prevent this.
Once on the market, supplement products often aren't as closely regulated for safety as drugs. This means that the content of some products may differ from what is specified on their product labels. Always look for supplements that have been third-party tested.
Also, keep in mind that the safety of supplements inpregnant or nursing people, children, and those with medical conditions or who are taking medications has not been established.
Dosage: How Much Beta-Glucan Should I Take?
Always speak with a healthcare provider before taking a supplement to ensure that the supplement and dosage is appropriate for your individual needs.
There is no standard dose for beta-glucan, and the amount needed differs based on the source.
Doses used in studies range from 2 to 6 grams taken orally daily for up to 12 weeks for oat beta-glucan. Doses ranging from 250 to 500 milligrams once daily for up to 12 weeks have been used for beta-glucan derived from yeast. According to the FDA, 3 grams daily of beta-glucan is the amount needed to make a health claim that the food can help lower cholesterol.
What Happens If I Take Too Much Beta-Glucan?
Taking too much beta-glucan may lead to increased gas, bloating, and stomach discomfort. It is recommended to start with a smaller dose and gradually increase your dose to prevent this.
Discuss beta-glucan use with your healthcare provider if you are already taking medication to lower blood sugar or blood pressure. Adding beta-glucan may cause your blood sugar or blood pressure to drop too low.
Although little is known about beta-glucan's role in immune function, it may reduce the effectiveness of immune-suppressing medications.
When considering supplements, it is crucial to talk with your healthcare provider about any potential interactions with your medication regimen.
How to Store Beta-Glucan
Follow directions on the packaging for proper storage. Generally, all medications and supplements should be stored out of reach of children.
Psyllium is another form of soluble fiber that is sold as a supplement.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can eating mushrooms help lower cholesterol?
While there are many different types of mushrooms, oyster and shiitake mushrooms are good sources of beta-glucan. However, there is not enough evidence to say that eating oyster mushrooms will reduce cholesterol levels. However, edible mushrooms are an excellent plant-based food with several key nutrients (e.g. vitamin D).(Video) What are beta glucans and how can they help with immune health?
Can beta-glucan boost our immune system?
The idea of "boosting your immune system" can be misleading. You can support a healthy immune system by getting enough sleep, exercising, eating a healthy diet, and generally taking care of yourself. Specific nutrients won't boost your immune system but can play a role in keeping it (and you) healthy. Therefore, beta-glucan taken alone will not boost your immune system.
Sources of Beta-Glucan & What to Look For
Food Sources of Beta-Glucan
Beta-glucan is found in oats, barley, rye, and sorghum. Some mushroom varieties are a good source of beta-glucan, such as oyster and shiitake mushrooms.
Beta-glucan is most abundant in raw foods, but consuming grains in this state is not possible due to processing and cooking needs, which reduce the beta-glucan content. Look for whole grains as close to their natural states as possible. For example, choose steel-cut oats over instant oatmeal or oat flour, and pearl barley over barley flour.
Beta-glucan supplements are widely available for purchase online. They are also sold in many natural-food stores and shops specializing in dietary supplements.
Many manufacturers source their beta-glucan from substances like baker's yeast. Others use medicinal mushrooms like shiitake and maitake, which are rich in beta-glucan.
When shopping for supplements, look for brands tested by a trusted, independent third party, such as U.S. Pharmacopeia, NSF International, or ConsumerLab.
Beta-glucan is one type of soluble fiber. This fiber can be found in oats, barley, and some mushrooms or as a supplement.
In general, most people don't get enough fiber in their diet. Incorporating high-fiber foods is recommended. While a food-first approach for fiber intake is preferred, supplementation is also an option. As always, discuss your supplement use with a healthcare provider.
Although it's too soon to recommend beta-glucan supplements for health purposes, increasing beta-glucan in your diet may help enhance overall health. Remember that alternative medicine should not be used as a substitute for standard care. Self-treating a condition and avoiding or delaying standard care may have serious consequences.
What is beta-glucan? ›
(BAY-tuh-GLOO-kan) A substance found in bacteria, plants, and certain foods, such as baker's yeast, cereal grains, and mushrooms. It is a type of polysaccharide that is made of a string of glucose (sugar) molecules joined together. Beta-glucan may stimulate the immune system and help kill cancer cells.What is beta-glucan supplement used for? ›
Beta glucan supplements are used to increase fiber intake and promote heart health, blood sugar regulation, digestive health, and weight management. It's also sometimes used in cancer treatment, although more research is needed.How do I get enough beta-glucan? ›
The best sources of beta-glucan are grains like wheat, oats, and rye. Mushrooms and some types of yeast are also very good sources of beta-glucan. Eating foods naturally rich in beta-glucan may help promote your health by improving your cholesterol levels, boosting your immune system health, and reducing inflammation.What is the best form of beta-glucan? ›
Each of these benefits has been noted in scientific journals, showing that the best source for beta glucans is baker's yeast in its raw form.Does beta-glucan help arthritis? ›
1,3 1,6 beta glucans can regulate inflammation.
Paul Clayton recommends for improving joint pain and arthritis is a specific strain of beta glucan. Beta glucans are sugars that are naturally occurring in the cell walls of bacteria, yeasts, algae, plants, and cereals.
Beta glucan can reduce hypertension (high blood pressure). In a study in rats with spontaneous hypertension, a diet containing 5% shiitake (Lentinus edodes) or maitake (Grifola frondosa) mushroom caused a decrease in mean systemic blood pressure.What are the negative effects of beta-glucan? ›
Potential Side Effects of Beta Glucan. Consuming a recommended amount of beta glucans through dietary choices may not cause side effects, but taking a beta glucan supplement carries potential side effects and risks including: diarrhea, back and joint pain and skin rashes.How much beta-glucan should I take daily? ›
In human studies, the tested (and suggested) daily dose remains in the range of 100–500 mg for stimulation of the immune system, whereas for a decrease in cholesterol levels a daily dose of 3 g is recommended.Does beta-glucan reduce inflammation? ›
β-Glucan is known to have anti-inflammatory properties, and several studies have demonstrated the beneficial effects of dietary β-glucans on inflammatory bowel disease (Ye et al., 2011).How much beta-glucan is in a cup of oatmeal? ›
For frame of reference, one cup of cooked oatmeal has 2 grams of beta-glucan and one cup of cooked pearled barley has 2.5 grams. Although not as rich in the heart-healthy fiber as oats or barley, wheat and rye also contain some beta-glucan.
Where do you get beta-glucan from? ›
β-Glucan is a water-soluble dietary fiber obtained from oats, barley, bacteria, yeast, algae, and mushrooms . Cell wall of the baker's yeast, that is, Saccharomyces cerevisiae is most abundant in β-glucan. β-Glucan is a water-soluble polysaccharide consists of glucose units.Does Quaker oats contain beta-glucan? ›
Oats Have the Fiber You Want
Three grams of this beneficial daily intake* are needed for this effect, and each serving of Quaker Porridge oats (40g) contains 47% of the 3g of oat beta-glucan suggested per day.
Among wild mushrooms, the highest mean β-glucan content assessed with the Megazyme method was found in Tricholoma portentosum (34.97 g/100 g DM), whereas with the Congo red method in Lactarius deliciosus (17.11 g/100 g DM) and Suillus grevillei (16.97 g/100 g DM).Is beta-glucan anti-aging? ›
Beta Glucan is known for its anti-aging effects and reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Beta Glucan hydrates dry skin and restores moisture. Beta Glucan goes a long way in reducing skin redness.Does beta-glucan raise blood sugar? ›
Beta-glucans have been tested to be effective in lowing blood glucose concentrations and decreasing hyerlipidemia and hypertension (Kim et al 2005; Goff et al 2007). It may provide another approach to cure diabetes.What are the 3 vitamins for arthritis? ›
Several vitamins have been studied for their effects on arthritis, including the antioxidant vitamins A, C, and E, and vitamins D and K.What is the number one supplement for arthritis? ›
Fish Oil or Omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA
EPA and DHA have been extensively studied for RA and dozens of other inflammatory conditions. One meta-analysis found that fish oil significantly decreased joint tenderness and stiffness in RA patients and reduced or eliminated NSAID use.
- Aloe vera.
- Cat's Claw.
- Green Tea.
- Thunder God Vine.
Although beta-glucan is generally considered safe, there may be a few side effects. Consuming too much fiber can cause gas, bloating, and flatulence. Be sure to drink enough water when increasing your fiber intake or adding beta-glucan.Is beta-glucan good for kidneys? ›
Objective: Dietary supplementation with grains containing high β-glucan fiber has been shown to attenuate the progression of chronic kidney disease (CKD) and vascular calcification in animal models.
Is beta-glucan good for the memory? ›
β-Glucans Enhanced Temporal Order Recognition Memory and Synaptic Ultrastructure. In the temporal order memory test, 15 weeks of three β-glucan supplementations significantly elevated the discrimination index that measures recognition memory, compared to the control diet [F(3,20) = 11.917, P < 0.001, Figure 1A].Is beta-glucan good for gut health? ›
Support gut health.
Beta-glucans also act as prebiotics6 , feeding the good bacteria in your gut and helping balance your gut microbiome. In combination with inositol and digestive enzymes, beta-glucan has been shown to help improve gas, bloating, and abdominal pain in people with IBS7 and IBD8 .
In a study of people with cirrhosis, supplementing with 10 grams of fermentable fiber per day (containing equal parts of beta-glucan, inulin, pectin, and resistant starch) for 30 days resulted in an improvement in liver function.Can I take beta-glucan every day? ›
Beta glucan supplements are generally seen as safe and can be taken as part of a regular supplementation routine.What form of beta-glucan is the most effective as immuno enhancer? ›
Of the different β-glucans, the products known as β-1,3/1,6-glucans, derived from baker's yeast, are suggested to be the most potent immune-system enhancers (Ringø et al., 2012).What time of day should I take beta-glucan? ›
When it comes to beta-glucan, it's best to take it on an empty stomach so that nothing interferes with its absorption of the supplement into the bloodstream. Taking your supplement first thing in the morning and waiting 30 minutes to eat will net you the best results.How long does it take beta-glucan to work? ›
The effects are demonstrated at about three (3) days. It takes about three (3) days from the time we swallow it that it goes through the body and start to spread around the internal organs Itself. So in about three (3) days you should see the effects, the first signs.What supplement gets rid of inflammation? ›
- Fish Oil.
- Vitamin D.
- Vitamin C.
- Green Tea Extract.
β-glucans are predominant cell-wall components of cereal grains, particularly oats and barley. However β-glucans can also be found at lower levels in other cereals such as spring-wheat, winter-wheat, sorghum, rye, rice, millet and spelt.Is 1 cup of oatmeal a day too much? ›
One of many essential healthy oatmeal tips: Keep portion size in mind. One cup of cooked oatmeal is a healthy serving size, says Jessica Crandall Snyder, RDN, CDCES, the CEO of Vital RD in Centennial, Colorado.
Does cooking oats increase beta-glucan? ›
 also report that the addition of oat flakes to boiling water followed by 10 min cooking generated an increased amount of soluble β-glucans (extracted from soluble fibre fraction).Does flaxseed contain beta-glucan? ›
Barley-flaxseed composites were unique because they provide the soluble fiber β-glucan that is beneficial for food texture and coronary heart dis- ease prevention along with the health benefits of the ω-3 PUFAs of flaxseed.Is oatmeal a beta-glucan? ›
Oats are a source of soluble fiber in the form of β-glucan (as well as arabinoxylan, xyloglucan, and other minor components), insoluble fiber, protein, lipids, phenolic compounds, vitamins, and minerals.What are the different types of beta-glucan? ›
The β-glucans discussed here are of two general types: those having backbones of β1-3-linked glucose and those with a backbone comprising both β1-3- and β1-4-linked glucose (mixed linkage β-glucans).What is the healthiest oatmeal? ›
Steel-cut oats, also called Irish oatmeal, are the whole oat kernel that has been cut into two or three pieces using steel disks. This type of oats contains the highest amount of fiber, as it is least processed. Steel-cut oats take a little longer to cook, and result in a creamy and chewy porridge.Does oatmeal clean your arteries? ›
Oats are an excellent choice for those who have atherosclerosis or are trying to prevent clogged arteries. Eating oats can help significantly reduce atherosclerosis risk factors, including high levels of total and LDL (bad) cholesterol ( 39 ).Does rice contain beta-glucan? ›
β-glucan is abundant in the cell walls of cereal grains, such as oat, barley and wheat. In rice, β-glucan is distributed throughout the grain, including in the starchy endosperm and sub-aleurone layer of milled rice, aleurone layer and maternal pericarp of the bran, as well as the husk [28,41].Is beta-glucan healthy? ›
Beta glucan (β-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.What food has the most beta-glucan? ›
Among these sources, barley typically has the highest beta-glucan content and oats the second highest. One and a half cups of cooked oatmeal or three packets of instant oatmeal provide 3 g of beta-glucans; 1 cup of cooked pearl barley contains approximately 2.5 g of beta-glucans.What is beta-glucan side effects? ›
Side effects may include:
- Back pain.
- Blood pressure changes.
- Excessive urination.
Is beta-glucan good for inflammation? ›
β-Glucan is known to have anti-inflammatory properties, and several studies have demonstrated the beneficial effects of dietary β-glucans on inflammatory bowel disease (Ye et al., 2011).Do sweet potatoes have beta-glucan? ›
Some fruits and vegetables are particularly high in immune-boosting and cholesterol-lowering beta glucans. These include beans, peas, lentils, broccoli, sweet potato, aubergine (eggplant), apples, strawberries and prunes.What is the number one supplement for inflammation? ›
Curcumin, an active ingredient in turmeric, is one of the most potent anti-inflammatory supplements. It significantly reduces inflammation associated with most chronic health conditions and may even be effective in diminishing inflammation caused by cancer.