Beta glucan benefits: Harness the power of this unique phytonutrient

There are numerous beta glucan benefits which can be very helpful. It is a type of polysaccharide and dietary fiber which is primarily used to improve immune system function and lower cholesterol.

It is also found in several foods but the most well known food sources are oats. However, other heart healthy foods also contain this type of soluble fiber thereby providing all the benefits of beta glucan.

FOOD SOURCES

Besides oats, beta glucan is also found in:

  • Mushrooms
  • Baker's yeast
  • Unprocessed grains such as Barley and Brown rice
  • Seaweed
  • In order to get all the beta glucan benefits, simply include grains into your diet such as whole grain bread, barley and oats. However, beta glucan coming from yeast can be found in some beverages and fermented foods but the amount is very small.

    Some mushrooms such as white button mushrooms can be found in supermarkets. Your local grocery store may even sell seaweed or medicinal mushrooms such as reishi, shitake and maitake. Check if there is a restoran in your area, that has mushrooms or seaweed, on their menu.

    BETA GLUCAN BENEFITS FOR HEART DISEASE

    Primary benefits of beta glucan on the cardiovascular system, is its ability to lower cholesterol levels. Numerous studies have confirmed this.

    From my personal expirience, I would strongly agree with those statements since my cholesterol levels were very low after consuming oatmeal for several months.

    However, I also took supplements such as fish oil, ate healthier and exercised regularly. That being said, I didn't measure my cholesterol levels before this, so I don't have anything to compare it with.

    On the other hand, I was considerably overweight, before doing all this.  When I got my blood work results back, it became apparent that my cholesterol was very low. My cholesterol levels were comparable with my weight loss. 

    According to studies, beta glucan can reduce LDL and total cholesterol from 10 to 15 percent. It affects cholesterol production in the liver as well as its absorbtion from the stomach and intestines. It even helps flush it out from the body, through the bowels.

    Optimal cholesterol levels are correlated with reduces risk of atherosclerosis, high blood pressure and heart attack.

    BETA GLUCAN BENEFITS FOR IMMUNE SYSTEM

    Beta glucan increases production of granulocytes, monocytes and natural killer cells, by boosting production of cytokines. It is also known as immune system modulator which may help with autoimmune conditions.

    It trains immune system to be fast, highly effective as well as to recognize abnormal cells in our body, more efficiently. By doing so, immune system can destroy viruses, bacterias or cancerous cells, while keeping us healthy.

    When it comes to benefits of beta glucan on the immune system and heart disease, it can protect us against viral diseases of the heart muscle such as rheumatic fever.

    BETA GLUCAN BENEFITS FOR BLOOD SUGAR LEVELS

    All types of fiber can improve blood sugar levels. Although our bodies can't actually digested fiber, it has significant effect on digestion, blood glucose levels and cancer prevention.

    Beta glucan from oats and barley can improve body's response to insulin as well as blood sugar control. This is backed up by several scientific studies as well as by people all over the world.

    SIDE EFFECTS OF BETA GLUCANS

    Oats contain purines which are found in animals, plants and humans. High intake of purines rich foods can cause health problems, primarily excess accumulation of uric acid.

    Although uric acid is natural antioxidant, high levels can lead to gout and formation of kidney stones.

    Also, oats belong to the group of gluten containing grains because of which individuals with celiac disease should stay away from it.

    In situations such as this, you can always take supplements thereby eliminating gluten from the equation, while getting all the beta glucan benefits.

    CONCLUSION

    Don't buy processed cereals or oats. Instead choose whole, natural, unprocessed oats which contain other nutrients, besides fiber. Oatmeal can also be very helpful in weight loss.

    While, beta glucan can be very effective in lowering LDL cholesterol, it can even help reduce triglycerides, especially when combined with exercise and healthy diet.

    My blood test has shown that, besides total and LDL cholesterol, my triglycerides levels were also very low. However, my HDL cholesterol values weren't extremly high. So, I would agree with those studies which say that beta glucan can't raise HDL cholesterol, at least not significantly.





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