Beta Glucan

Written by Helen Glenn Court
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Beta glucan is a fiber-type sugar molecule that can help control cholesterol levels. It is commonly found in baker's yeast, which is the richest concentrated source. It is the key ingredient in the cholesterol-lowering effect proven in oat bran. It is also found in wheat and barley and medicinal mushrooms.

If you have been diagnosed with high cholesterol, you will want—with the help of your doctor, of course—to consider all the possibilities for treatment in reducing those levels. Studies indicate that beta glucans are worth considering. On your own, incorporating them into your diet shouldn't be too difficult. Make the soups a bit more exotic in the variety of mushrooms you use and make them robust and thick with barley. Have oatmeal for breakfast in the cold weather. Try homemade bread with whole grains and let the baker's yeast raise the dough for you.

How Beta Glucan Can Help

While not an essential nutrient, beta glucans are shown to activate white blood cells, particularly those involved in the body's first line of defense again cancer. Indications are that they are used in removing cellular debris, accelerate recovery of damaged tissues, and aiding digestion. Remember: arteries clogged with LDL, the "bad" cholesterol, are a leading cause of heart disease (damaged tissue), and blood clots and plaque (read debris) can cause strokes.

The amounts of beta glucans in studies have ranged from about 3,000 to 15,000 mg per day. Fortunately, there are no known side effects or drug interactions. And, another plus, because they are not an essential nutrient, there is no such thing as a deficiency.

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