Canadian research finds oat beta-glucan exhibits a lowering effect on all bad cholesterol

By Michelle Yeomans

- Last updated on GMT

Picture credit: iStock. Oats are a rich source of beta-glucan
Picture credit: iStock. Oats are a rich source of beta-glucan

Related tags Cardiovascular disease

Oat beta-glucan has a lowering effect not only on LDL-cholesterol, but on other ‘bad cholesterol’ too, a Canadian review and meta-analysis has concluded.

Researchers at St Michael’s Hospital in Toronto and the University of Toronto carried out a review of more than 50 studies investigating the cholesterol-lowering potential of oat beta-glucan on LDL-cholesterol, non-HDL-cholesterol and apoB. 

Oats are a rich source of beta-glucan, a fibre recognised for its cholesterol-lowering properties and associated reduced risks of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Unlike LDL-cholesterol, there is little understanding currently of the relationship between oat beta-glucan and non-HDL-cholesterol and apoB, according to the report. 

However, the review, published in the British Journal of Nutrition, concluded that all three exhibited cholesterol-lowering properties. “Pooled analyses showed that oat beta-glucan has a lowering effect on LDL-cholesterol, non-HDL-cholesterol and apoB​,” the researchers wrote. 


 ​John L. Sievenpiper and his team, examined 58 studies, of which 56 reported data on LDL-cholesterol and 17 on apoB. While it was just the one that featured data on non-HDL-cholesterol, 56 others included enough to calculate non-HDL-cholesterol. 

They added that the results were; “indicative that the cholesterol-lowering benefits can be achieved by supplementing oat beta-glucan into commonly consumed foods”.

In conclusion, the systematic review and meta-analysis claims to support the dose-dependent intake of oat beta-glucan for the reduction of LDL-cholesterol, non-HDL-cholesterol and apoB in middle-aged participants. 

Reduced CVD risk​ 

The researchers added that their conclusion also supports the use of non-HDL-cholesterol and apoB as alternative targets for CVD reduction. 

“Furthermore, both non-HDL-cholesterol and apoB have been shown to be highly correlated with CVD risk, especially when LDL-cholesterol appears to be within the normal range​,” the review concluded.  

Source:British Journal of Nutrition​, First View​ (2016)

DOI:​‘The effect of oat β-glucan on LDL-cholesterol, non-HDL-cholesterol and apoB for CVD risk reduction’

Authors: Hoang V. T. Ho​, John L. Sievenpiper​, Andreea Zurbau​, Sonia Blanco Mejia​, Elena Jovanovski​, Fei Au-Yeung​, Alexandra L. Jenkins​, Vladimir Vuksan

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