It seems there’s a never-ending vocabulary list required to keep up with modern diets. You may not have heard of Beta Glucan but it’s an incredibly important part of our diet. While it may not be a household name, it has numerous health benefits including promoting cardiovascular health, boosting immunity, and lowering cholesterol.
What Is Beta Glucan?
In short, beta glucan is a polysaccharide comprised of glucose. It’s a soluble fiber classified as an immuno-modulator, or something that helps your immune system adapt to become more efficient. It’s naturally occurring in some foods.
Beta Glucan Foods
Oats are one of the biggest natural sources of beta glucan, although it’s also common in barley, wheat, and shiitake mushrooms. However, the list of foods it’s found in is relatively short. Because of this, it’s important to make sure that you’re incorporating barley, wheat, and oats into your diet if you want to reap the health benefits.
There are also a number of supplements on the market for increasing beta glucan intake, and it can also be prescribed to you by your doctor for certain medical conditions.
What Is Beta Glucan Good For?
Beta glucan is a great tool for lowering your LDL cholesterol without lowering your HDL cholesterol. LDL, or Low-density lipoprotein, is considered to be the “bad” cholesterol. Having high levels of LDL is one of the leading causes of heart disease which can lead to serious health complications or death.
Beta Glucan is also used as an immunity boost. Studies have shown that beta glucan intake can help your immune system fight fatigue, stress, infection, and even combat the effects of radiation treatments.
How Beta Glucan Works
Beta glucan is a thick viscous fiber that lines the small intestine. When beta-glucan comes in contact with LDL cholesterol, it binds to it and drags it out of your system. This decreases the amount of cholesterol and bile that is absorbed in the intestines. When bile is not absorbed, the body uses existing cholesterol to build more bile ultimately resulting in less cholesterol in the blood stream.
How Much Beta Glucan Per Day?
Studies have shown that ingesting 3 to 15 grams of beta glucan per day will help lower cholesterol. People who took a beta glucan dosage of 6 to 7 grams per day showed a 7% decrease in their LDL according to one study.
How Much Beta Glucan In Oats?
Oatmeal is one of the best ways to increase beta glucan intake. A single cup of oatmeal contains up to three grams of beta glucan, which is enough to lower your cholesterol by itself. Those who eat oatmeal for breakfast and ingest wheat and whole grains with lunch or dinner are likely to experience a significant drop in cholesterol levels.
Whether you’re trying to lower your high-cholesterol or are simply trying to prevent reaching a level of high cholesterol, managing your diet doesn’t have to be difficult. You don’t have to remember all the fancy key terms, or exactly how much beta-glucan is required to lower your LDL by x%. Instead, simply switching your morning breakfast from eggs and bacon to a bowl of oatmeal will have you on the right track.