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Dietary Soluble Fiber May Be Beneficial for Adults With and Without Hypercholesterolemia

Posted May 07 2009 9:22pm

Although the antihyperlipidemic effects of oats have been extensively studied, there are much less studies, and findings have shown more apparent inconsistency in cholesterol effects. Even though several clinical trials have investigated the impact of barley β-glucan on total cholesterol, LDL [low-density lipoprotein] cholesterol, high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, and triglycerides, a meta-analysis assessing these effects has not been clinically evaluated.
Barley-derived β-glucan appears to beneficially affect total cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol, and triglycerides, but not HDL-cholesterol, Based upon available data, barley appears to be well tolerated, with flatulence and abdominal discomfort being reported as the most common adverse effects, but there is not adequate power to look for other less common adverse effects.
Eight trials evaluating the lipid-reducing effects of barley met inclusion criteria; these were of 4 to 12 weeks' duration and enrolled a total of 391 patients. The use of barley was associated with significant reduction in levels of total cholesterol. However, there did not appear to be any significant effect on HDL cholesterol levels (P = .07).
The results of our study support the routine use of soluble fibers in the diets of adult patients with and without hypercholesterolemia, Barley adds another source of soluble fibers, in addition to oats, psyllium, pectin, and guar gum that patients can consume as part of a healthy diet....Health practitioners should feel comfortable recommending barley β-glucan to their patients to help reduce total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol concentrations as recommended by the NCEP guidelines.
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