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05-01-2012 | Cardiometabolic | Article

Oat beta-glucan cereal could offer broad LDL cholesterol benefit


Free abstract

MedWire News: Researchers report that both Caucasians and non-Caucasians can benefit from the low-density lipoprotein (LDL)-cholesterol-lowering effect of oat beta-glucan.

A number of studies support the lipid-lowering effect of beta-glucans in oats, but the majority of this research has been performed in Caucasian individuals. Since there is evidence that the prevalence of blood lipid abnormalities and the LDL-cholesterol-lowering effect of statins differs by ethnicity, it is possible that this effect could be limited to Caucasian populations.

"Our results showing that oat beta-glucan lowers LDL-[cholesterol] in non-Caucasians may be helpful to support global efforts to reduce coronary heart disease (CHD) risk," say Thomas Wolever (University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada) and colleagues.

For the study, 367 Caucasian and non-Caucasian individuals with LDL cholesterol between 3.0 and 5.0 mmol/L (116 and 193 mg/dL) were randomly assigned to consume cereal containing wheat fiber (control) or oat beta-glucan daily over a 4-week period.

Oat beta-glucan cereal was provided in one of four forms: 3 g high-molecular weight (MW; 3H 2,250,000 g/mol), 3 g medium-MW (3M 530,000 g/mol), 4 g medium-MW (4M 850,000 g/mol), 4 g low-MW (4L 210,000 g/mol).

In addition, fasting blood samples were obtained weekly for analysis of total and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, triglycerides, and LDL cholesterol.

Significant decreases in LDL cholesterol levels were seen within 1-2 weeks of starting treatment and remained stable over the last 2 weeks of the study.

Compared with Caucasian individuals assigned to the control treatment, those who received 3H and 4M showed significant reductions in LDL cholesterol. When the team assessed these findings in non-Caucasian individuals they found that 3H, 3M, and 4M provided significant reductions in LDL cholesterol. However, supplementation with 4L had no effect in either group.

Further analysis of 3H, 3M, and 4M oat beta-glucan supplementation revealed a significant combined mean reduction of LDL cholesterol of 4.8% in Caucasians and 10.3% in non-Caucasians. This difference was not found to be significant.

Writing in the Nutrition Journal, Wolever and colleagues say the findings are promising but no significant conclusions can be derived on the extent of LDL-cholesterol-lowering effect of oat beta-glucan between ethnic groups as the study was not powered to detect a difference.

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2012

By Ingrid Grasmo