Full Papers

The effects of concentrated barley β-glucan on blood lipids in a population of hypercholesterolaemic men and women

Joseph M. Keenana1, Melanie Goulsona2, Tatyana Shamliyana1, Nathan Knutsona2, Lore Kolberga2 and Leslie Currya2

a1 University of Minnesota, Medical School, Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, 420 Delaware Street SE, MMC 381, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA

a2 Cargill, Inc., Health and Food Technologies, 15407 McGinty Road West, Mail Stop 110, Wayzata, MN 55391, USA


Barley, like oats, is a rich source of the soluble fibre β-glucan, which has been shown to significantly lower LDL-cholesterol (LDL-C). However, barley foods have been less widely studied. Therefore, we evaluated the LDL-C-lowering effect of a concentrated barley β-glucan (BBG) extract as a vehicle to deliver this potential health benefit of barley. In a 10-week blinded controlled study, subjects were randomized to one of four treatment groups or control. Treatment groups included either high molecular weight (HMW) or low molecular weight (LMW) BBG at both 3 and 5 g doses. Treatment was delivered twice per day with meals in the form of two functional food products: a ready-to-eat cereal and a reduced-calorie fruit juice beverage. Levels of total cholesterol, LDL-C, HDL-cholesterol (HDL-C), and TAG were determined at baseline and after 6 weeks of treatment. The study group comprised 155 subjects. All treatments were well tolerated and after 6 weeks of treatment the mean LDL-C levels fell by 15 % in the 5 g HMW group, 13 % in the 5 g LMW group and 9 % in both the 3 g/d groups, versus baseline. Similar results were observed for total cholesterol. HDL-C levels were unchanged by treatment. Concentrated BBG significantly improves LDL-C and total cholesterol among moderately dyslipidaemic subjects. Food products containing concentrated BBG should be considered an effective option for improving blood lipids.

(Received April 24 2006)

(Revised December 20 2006)

(Accepted January 03 2007)


c1 *Corresponding author: Joseph M. Keenan, MD, fax 612-625-0640, keena001@umn.edu


Abbreviations: ATP III, National Cholesterol Education Program's Adult Treatment Panel III; BBG, barley β-glucan; HDL-C, HDL-cholesterol; HMW, high molecular weight; LDL-C, LDL-cholesterol; LMW, low molecular weight; VSF, viscous soluble fibre; TAG, triglycerides; CVD, Cardiovascular Disease; CHD, Coronary Heart Disease