By now, you probably understand that fiber is good for you. That means more fiber is always better…right? Well, it turns out that certain fibers are actually more beneficial than others. Beta-glucan, for example, is a specific type of insoluble fiber that offers many important health benefits. In fact, consuming just three grams of beta-glucan a day may help lower your cholesterol levels by eight percent. That’s why foods rich in beta-glucan, like oatmeal, as well as beta glucan supplements, are helpful when it comes to lowering cholesterol.
There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. As an insoluble fiber, beta-glucan dissolves in water and adds bulk to your stool to help prevent constipation and improve bowel function. Beta-glucan is also a particularly viscous fiber that forms a gel as it moves through your digestive tract. This gel grabs cholesterol and prevents it from being absorbed by your body. It can also help regulate blood sugar levels because it slows digestion, preventing sugar spikes and the resulting release of insulin.
Seriously, if health is your goal, then you need to know which foods are rich in beta-glucan so you can start experiencing these effects today.
How can I incorporate more beta glucan rich foods into my diet?
If you want to add more beta-glucan to your diet, you can find several common foods that naturally contain beneficial amounts. Some of the foods with the most beta-glucan include:
Oats are one of the richest sources of beta-glucan available. Indeed, the FDA now allows health claims on the packaging of foods that contain rolled oats, oat bran, or oat flour due to the high concentration of beta-glucan.
You can add oats to your diet in a variety of ways. Obviously, you can eat plain oatmeal or oatmeal with additional healthy toppings. However, you can also add oats to a wide range of foods, such as roasted squash, sweet potatoes, or even homemade applesauce. With practice, you’ll find that oats can add a pleasant texture and mild flavor to many different foods, both sweet and savory.
Barley contains plenty of beta-glucan and propionic acid; a fatty acid believed to lower fatty acid content in the liver and plasma. This ability can facilitate lower overall cholesterol levels.
While barley isn’t quite as well-known as oats, this healthy whole grain is widely available and super healthy. Try cooking barley instead of oatmeal, adding barley to soups or stews, mixing it with the flour in homemade baked goods, creating a salad with cooked barley, or having it as a side dish in place of other grains such as rice or quinoa. With the right seasonings, barley is a delicious, filling way to give your diet a boost of beta-glucan.
Mushrooms. Mushrooms are also a rich dietary source of beta-glucan, which means they may help lower cholesterol, benefit the immune system, and improve overall well-being. On top of that, mushrooms also contain important phytonutrients and polysaccharides.
Mushrooms are both delicious in their own right and versatile enough to add to a wide variety of dishes. You can sauté mushrooms and eat them alone or put them on top of chicken, steak, or sandwiches. You can also grill or roast mushrooms and add them to meat dishes (or let them stand in for any meat). Try replacing a hamburger patty with a portabella mushroom and simply top with the same condiments you would normally use. You could also toss mushrooms into soups or pastas for a fresh twist. If you or your family is staunchly anti-mushroom, try chopping or blending them and mixing mushrooms into your favorite meat recipes (such as burgers, tacos, or chilis). When prepared correctly, you won’t even know they’re there.
You can also find beta-glucan in seaweed, such as nori, kelp, and chlorella, as well as algae.
Can you get too much beta-glucan?
When you get most of your beta-glucan from foods rich in this fiber, it’s almost impossible to get too much. Your hunger, stomach size, and natural appetites do a great job of regulating what you eat and how much. Besides, the amount of beta-glucan in these foods is generally small enough that you’d have to eat massive amounts to overdose on the vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other nutrients contained in them.
When you take a supplement, however, that changes things. Instead of consuming foods that contain small amounts of beta-glucan, you’re taking a targeted supplement containing beta-glucan in concentrated amounts. Fortunately, there is still no evidence that you can take “too much” beta-glucan or that taking larger amounts causes any health issues or dangers. In fact, this study suggests that consuming high concentrations of beta-glucan causes no adverse effects at all.
There are some side effects that some may experience when increasing their beta-glucan intake. For example, you may experience diarrhea or nausea. However, it’s important to remember that these are typical responses to increasing one’s overall fiber intake. Generally, these effects naturally dissipate as the body adjusts to higher amounts of fiber. The other side effects of beta-glucan are typically associated only with IV administration (which is reserved for people whose doctors prescribe it in medicinal doses).
Outside of food, are there other natural sources of beta glucan?
Yes! As we’ve previously discussed, you can get beta-glucan from a wide range of different foods. In addition to the rich sources of oats, barley, mushrooms, seaweed, algae, and yeast, you can also find beta-glucan in smaller amounts in many whole grains, vegetables, and fruits.
However, because it can be difficult or impossible to eat a diet that provides everything you need daily, it’s a good idea to include nutritional supplements in your diet. This is particularly important when you’re trying to supplement something as essential and beneficial as beta-glucan. Be sure to look for a high-quality supplement, such as Glucan85Plus. This supplement uses a minimum of 85% pure beta-glucan while most other supplements guarantee only 70% purity.
In particular, Glucan85Plus contains beta-1,3/1,6-glucan. This is a specific type of beta-glucan known to stimulate the immune system and provide the most health benefits. Glucan85Plus is an all-natural, well-sourced supplement designed with your optimal health in mind. When taken in conjunction with a healthy, varied diet, this supplement can boost your health without taking anything away from it. We don’t know about you, but that makes it pretty hard to beat.