The ingredient is likely to be formally launched to the industry within 18 months, with the first commercial product expected to follow shortly after. It bolsters the company's heart health portfolio, sitting comfortably alongside other ingredients such as Corowise plant sterol and Prolisse soy protein.
The study, conducted at the University of Minnesota Medical School, was presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions and the abstract will be published in a future issue of Circulation.
Joel Pins and colleagues set out to determine the effects of extracted barley beta-glucan on cardiovascular markers in a 158 men and women with high cholesterol.
The participants were assigned to one of four intervention groups or a placebo group. The intervention groups received either low molecular weight or high molecular weight beta-glucan, at either a three or a five-gram dose. They received this in the form of a ready-to-eat cereal and a juice drink, given twice a day over the six-week period.
The researchers found that LDL cholesterol was significantly reduced in all the treatment groups, but not in the placebo group - an effect similar to that of oat beta-glucan.
Additionally, they found that it helped with glycemic control, especially in patients with metabolic syndrome, who are at a higher risk of developing type-2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Cargill marketing programs manager Pam Stauffer told NutraIngredients-USA.com that Barliv has 70 percent concentration of barley beta-glucan. While oat beta-glucan has also been seen to have a cholesterol-lowering effect, the low-viscosity of barley beta-glucan means it may be better for use in some kinds of products, such as beverages. It is also suitable for other applications including dietary supplements and bars.
Consumer demand for products high in fiber is at a high at the moment. This is thanks partly to advice from the USDA, contained in the new Dietary Guidelines for Americans and MyPyramid, to include fiber and wholewheat products in a healthy diet.
In fact, Cargill has said that the dietary guidelines have led it to accelerating its development of health-promoting ingredients and ingredient systems, so that food and beverage makers can better help consumers meet the recommendations.
Stauffer also said that the low carbohydrate diet trend helped increase understanding of the role of carbs, proteins and fiber in a healthy diet.
"It is a huge hot topic in the US right now," she said.
Although the low-carb trend has now waned, there is increasing interest around the world in the low-glycemic diet, which places the emphasis on slow-release carbs (such as oats and wholegrains) over no carbs.
Stauffer said that some other clinical studies have indicated other health benefits of Barliv, but she was unable to discuss these as they are currently awaiting publication.
Cargill is not the only company keen to board the barley bandwagon. Cevena Bioproducts opened an office in Chicago to promote its oat- or barley-derived Viscofiber to supplement and functional food-makers.
The barley version of the high-viscosity beta-glucan is 60 percent concentrate, where as the oat version is 50 percent.