Quantitative assessment of the effects of beta-glucan consumption on serum lipid profile and glucose level in hypercholesterolemic subjects

Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2015 Aug;25(8):714-23. doi: 10.1016/j.numecd.2015.04.008. Epub 2015 Apr 29.


Background & aims: A growing body of evidence suggests that beta-glucan derived from oats or barley can reduce cardiovascular disease risk through reductions in serum lipids. However, the effects of beta-glucan on lipid changes in hypercholesterolemic patient groups are inconsistent. The objective of this study was to identify and quantify the effect of beta-glucan, a marker of water-soluble fiber, on various lipid parameters and glucose level in hypercholesterolemic subjects.

Methods and results: We performed a comprehensive literature search to identify the relevant randomized controlled trials (RCTs) that investigated the effects of beta-glucan consumption in hypercholesterolemic subjects. Mean differences (MDs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated for net changes in lipid concentrations by using fixed-effects or random-effects models according to heterogeneity. Publication bias, sensitivity analysis and subgroup analyses were also performed. Seventeen eligible RCTs with 916 subjects were included in the meta-analysis. The pooled result showed that beta-glucan consumption in hypercholesterolemic population significantly lowered the total cholesterol (TC) (MD, -0.26 mmol/L; 95% CI, -0.33 to -0.18; P < 0.00001) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL)-cholesterol concentration (MD, -0.21 mmol/L; 95% CI, -0.27 to -0.14; P < 0.00001). However, there were no significant differences in high-density lipoprotein (HDL)-cholesterol, triglycerides (TG) and glucose. No adverse effects were reported among the eligible trials.

Conclusion: Our meta-analysis showed that beta-glucan consumption significantly decreased TC and LDL-cholesterol concentrations but did not affect TG, HDL-cholesterol, and glucose concentrations in hypercholesterolemic subjects.

Keywords: Beta-glucan; Dietary fiber; Hypercholesterolemic; Meta-analysis; Serum lipids.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Avena / chemistry
  • Blood Glucose / drug effects
  • Cholesterol / blood
  • Cholesterol, LDL / blood
  • Dietary Fiber / administration & dosage*
  • Female
  • Hordeum / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Hypercholesterolemia / blood*
  • Hypercholesterolemia / diet therapy*
  • Lipoproteins, HDL / blood
  • Male
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Triglycerides / blood
  • beta-Glucans / administration & dosage
  • beta-Glucans / therapeutic use*


  • Blood Glucose
  • Cholesterol, LDL
  • Dietary Fiber
  • Lipoproteins, HDL
  • Triglycerides
  • beta-Glucans
  • Cholesterol