Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are the leading cause of death worldwide. Factors increasing the risks for CVD development are related to obesity, diabetes, high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure and lifestyle. CVD risk factors may be treated with appropriate drugs, but prolonged can use cause undesirable side-effects. Among the natural products used in complementary and alternative medicines, are the β-ᴅ-glucans; biopolymers found in foods (cereals, mushrooms), and can easily be produced by microbial fermentation. Independent of source, β-glucans of the mixed-linked types [(1 → 3)(1 → 6)-β-ᴅ-glucans - fungal, and (1 → 3)(1 → 4)-β-ᴅ-glucans - cereal] have widely been studied because of their biological activities, and have demonstrated cardiovascular protective effects. In this review, we discuss the roles of β-ᴅ-glucans in various pathophysiological conditions that lead to CVDs including obesity, dyslipidemia, hyperglycemia, oxidative stress, hypertension, atherosclerosis and stroke. The β-glucans from all of the sources cited demonstrated potential hypoglycemic, hypocholesterolemic and anti-obesogenicity activities, reduced hypertension and ameliorated the atherosclerosis condition. More recently, β-glucans are recognized as possessing prebiotic properties that modulate the gut microbiome and impact on the health benefits including cardiovascular. Overall, all the studies investigated unequivocally demonstrated the dietary benefits of consuming β-glucans regardless of source, thus constituting a promising panaceutical approach to reduce CVD risk factors.
Keywords: Botryosphaeran; Prebiotics; β-ᴅ-glucans.
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