Review of human studies investigating the post-prandial blood-glucose lowering ability of oat and barley food products

Eur J Clin Nutr. 2013 Apr;67(4):310-7. doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2013.25. Epub 2013 Feb 20.


Oat and barley foods have been shown to reduce human glycaemic response, compared to similar wheat foods or a glucose control. The strength of the evidence supporting the hypothesis that the soluble fibre, mixed linkage β-glucan, reduces glycaemic response was evaluated. A search of the literature was conducted to find clinical trials with acute glycaemic response as an end point using oat or barley products. Of the 76 human studies identified, 34 met the inclusion and exclusion criteria. Dose response and ratio of β-glucan to available carbohydrate as predictors of glycaemic response were assessed. Meals provided 0.3-12.1 g oat or barley β-glucan, and reduced glycaemic response by an average of 48 ± 33 mmol · min/l compared to a suitable control. Regression analysis on 119 treatments indicated that change in glycaemic response (expressed as incremental area under the post-prandial blood-glucose curve) was greater for intact grains than for processed foods. For processed foods, glycaemic response was more strongly related to the β-glucan dose alone (r(2)=0.48, P<0.0001) than to the ratio of β-glucan to the available carbohydrate (r(2)=0.25, P<0.0001). For processed foods containing 4 g of β-glucan, the linear model predicted a decrease in glycaemic response of 27 ± 3 mmol · min/l, and 76% of treatments significantly reduced glycaemic response. Thus, intact grains as well as a variety of processed oat and barley foods containing at least 4 g of β-glucan and 30-80 g available carbohydrate can significantly reduce post-prandial blood glucose.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Avena*
  • Blood Glucose / analysis*
  • Databases, Factual
  • Dietary Fiber / administration & dosage
  • Glycemic Index
  • Hordeum*
  • Humans
  • Insulin / blood
  • Postprandial Period*
  • beta-Glucans / administration & dosage
  • beta-Glucans / blood


  • Blood Glucose
  • Dietary Fiber
  • Insulin
  • beta-Glucans