Beta-glucans are a form of natural, soluble dietary fibre found in foods, including grains (such as barley, oats, and corn bran) and mushrooms (such as maitake, reishi, and shiitake). One of the richest concentrated sources of beta-glucans is found in the cell walls of baker's yeast (Saccharomyces Cerevisae). Regardless of the source, all beta-glucans are carbohydrates formed by a string of glucose molecules. They are then absorbed into the body through the intestines.
Many uses have been proposed for beta-glucan supplements, including their ability to promote wound healing, lower cholesterol levels. To date, however, clinical trials only support a few uses for this substance.
Beta-glucans may help to;
Reduce the risk of coronary heart disease by lowering blood cholesterol levels - glucans that are soluble in water (such as the 1,6 glucans form, which is extracted from whole oats) can help to reduce cholesterol levels when consumed as part of the healthy low-fat diet. Clinical trials have even shown that the higher the beta-glucan content, the greater the cholesterol-lowering effect.
Enhance immune-system power – research shows beta-glucans appear to intensify the immune system's ability to fight off infection, by activating certain white blood cells called macrophages - macrophages must be stimulated or activated in order to become functioning members of the immune system. Produced by the bone marrow, these blood cells patrol the body, eating up such foreign invaders as bacteria and fungi.