Cholesterol-lowering properties of oat β-glucan and the promotion of cardiovascular health: did Health Canada make the right call?

Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2015 Jun;40(6):535-42. doi: 10.1139/apnm-2014-0410. Epub 2015 Jan 27.


In 2010, Health Canada approved a heath claim acknowledging the link between increased oats (Avena sativa)-soluble fibre consumption and a reduction in total serum cholesterol levels. The approval also recognized the relationship between decreased total blood cholesterol concentration and a reduced risk of coronary heart disease. The functional food ingredient believed to be responsible for the hypocholesterolemic property of oats is β-glucan, a highly viscous, soluble fibre composed of d-glucose monomers linked by a combination of β-(1→4) and β-(1→3) glycosidic bonds. Found mainly in the endosperm cell wall of oats, β-glucan is thought to reduce total serum and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol by forming a viscous mass in the small intestine thus limiting intestinal absorption of dietary cholesterol as well as the re-absorption of bile acids. Given the evolution of research information with time as a result of the continual, rapid generation of new research data by laboratories around the world, it became imperative to examine the compatibility of the conclusion reached by Health Canada on the basis of the body of evidence contained in the initial petition submitted in January 2007, with newer post-2006 data. After careful evaluation, this work concludes on the basis of new research information that a dose of 3 g/day oat β-glucan consumed as part of a diet "free of saturated fatty acids" or "low in saturated fatty acids" could help to promote cardiovascular health.

Keywords: Avena sativa; HDL; LDL; aliment fonctionnel; allégation de santé; bien-fondé d’une demande; claim validity; fibre soluble; functional food; health claim; hypercholesterolemia; hypercholestérolémie; hyperlipidemia; hyperlipidémie; soluble fibre; viscosity; viscosité.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Avena / chemistry*
  • Canada
  • Cardiovascular System / drug effects*
  • Cardiovascular System / metabolism
  • Cholesterol, HDL / blood
  • Coronary Disease / prevention & control
  • Dietary Fiber / administration & dosage
  • Health Promotion*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Recommended Dietary Allowances
  • Risk Factors
  • Triglycerides / blood
  • beta-Glucans / pharmacology*


  • Cholesterol, HDL
  • Dietary Fiber
  • Triglycerides
  • beta-Glucans