Understanding oats: Role of β-glucan in glucose metabolism and beyond
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Oats, and particularly the β-glucan found in oats, have received significant attention for their ability to promote health by reducing the risk for cardiovascular disease. In fact, Health Canada approved a health claim outlining oat fibre's role in the reduction of cholesterol. Oats are an important source of nutrients and Canada is a major producer of oats. Scientific interest in the role oats (and the components of oats) may have on other areas of metabolism has been growing. Of particular note is the emerging evidence that Î²-glucan from oats can modulate glucose metabolism. Our invited speakers are noted Canadian experts in the field of oats and will bring their scientific knowledge, research experience and insight into this important area of Food and Nutrition Science.
Dr. Sijo Joseph, Presentation Description
Oat is recognized as a healthy whole grain cereal and represents a major export crop for western Canada. Oat consumption is driven, in part, by the general consideration that oat based food products are nutritious sources of protein, micro nutrients and dietary fibre. Oats contain beta-glucan which is known to lower cholesterol and postprandial blood glucose. The cholesterol lowering characteristic of beta-glucan has been approved by various health regulatory agencies around the world. In addition to the health benefits attributed to the presence of beta-glucan, there is growing evidence that whole grain benefits of oats may be due to synergistic activities of bio-actives. For example, oats contain some unique compounds such as avenanthramides (Avns), avenacosides (Avcs) and phytosterols in addition to other phenolic compounds present in all cereals. Avns and Avcs are thought to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-atherosclerosis effects. Ways to improve the marketable attributes of oats include optimizing beta-glucan bioactivity, characterizing other biologically active components unique to oats that can deliver physiological effects and developing new oat food products that provide consumers with more options for including oats in their diet. Oat breeding approaches and processing methods have all been shown to improve the healthfulness of oats. These strategies either alone or in combination could be used to help enhance the bioactivity and bioavailability of these bioactive molecules and in turn help meet consumer demand for healthier and palatable oat products.
Susan Tosh, Presentation Description
Oats were a staple in the diet of northern Europe and widely consumed in southern Europe, the Middle East and western Asia for millennia. Scientific evidence that oats, and in particular the soluble fibre in oats, were beneficial in lower serum cholesterol and ameliorating blood glucose concentrations emerged in the early 1980's. The main component of oat soluble fibre, mixed linkage β-glucan, has been shown to increase the viscosity of the upper gut contents which slows the digestion rate of the meal as it passes through the stomach and upper intestine slowing the rate of absorption of glucose into the blood stream. Since both the length of the β-glucan molecules and the concentration in solution affect the viscosity generated in the gut, food processing techniques which either degrade the β-glucan (eg. malting, enzyme activity) or change the solubility of the β-glucan (eg. drying, extrusion) can influence the efficacy of the oat foods, either positively or negatively. Beyond these well studied health benefits, there is growing evidence that oat β-glucan also increases satiety after a meal, reducing the desire to eat between meals. It is also a prebiotic which tends to favour the growth of short chain fatty acid bacteria in the colon acting as an energy source for the maintenance a healthy gut microbiota. Despite the substantiating evidence that oats and oat fibre are beneficial the consumption of oats continues to decline. New products that are convenient and tasty may be the answer to increasing oat consumption in future.
***Original Source: "2017 Annual Conference", Saturday, May 27, 2017
Last Updated: June 26, 2017
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