ß-Glucans (or beta-glucans) are polysaccharides occurring in the bran of cereal grains, the cell wall of baker’s yeast, certain types of fungi, and many kinds of mushrooms. The cereal based beta-glucans occur most abundantly in barley and oats and to a much lesser degree in rye and wheat.
Beta glucan has been found to help to reduce cholesterol. On January 21, 1997, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a health claim on food products containing beta glucan. The claim states that “a diet high in soluble fiber from whole oats (oat bran, oatmeal and oat flour) and low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease“.
Beta glucan also helps to improve the body’s immune system defense against foreign invaders by enhancing the ability of macrophages, neutrophils and natural killer cells.