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Beta (β)-glucan
  Evaluated for:
Effectiveness Rating Effectiveness Rating
Lowering cholesterol
+3 (Strong Evidence)
Lowering blood sugar
+2 (Moderate Evidence)
Immune system health
+1 (Slight Evidence)


  • Beta (β)-glucans are a form of molecular fiber, or polymer chains, and are found in plants, bran, yeast, mushrooms, and other fungi. Whole-grain oats and barley have high levels of β-glucans, as do yeast and certain mushrooms. The large variety of β-glucan structures confer a range of types of action and biological activity.
  • Oat- and barley-derived β-glucan lower cholesterol and blood sugars. In contrast, most commercially available β-glucan supplements, derived from yeast and mushroom sources, do not have the same cholesterol and blood sugar lowering effects as β-glucan derived from oats and barley.


  • To experience cholesterol and blood-sugar lowering benefits, oat-derived β-glucan should be consumed in liquids, such as a bowl of oatmeal mixed with hot water. Dry-cooked β-glucan in baked goods (e.g., granola) can negate the positive benefits.
  • Patients with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity/allergy should avoid oat or barley-derived β-glucan. Even oat sources certified gluten-free should be used only with caution.
  • β-glucans can cause gas, bloating, and abdominal cramps, especially when consumed in large amounts. It is better to spread out your intake throughout the day.

This product should be eaten only as a porridge or pudding, and not in baked goods. Patients with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity should avoid using oat- or barley-derived β-glucan.

CONCLUSION: We conclude that β -glucan is a safe and effective supplement for lowering cholesterol and blood sugar. While it shows promise for strengthening the immune system, there is insufficient evidence for us to recommend its use for this indication. If you do elect to try it, please discuss your decision with your doctor, and observe carefully for any changes to your health.