Background: Fiber regulates the rate and site of lipid and carbohydrate digestion and absorption and thus can modify the alimentary responses to a meal. When fiber sources containing viscous polysaccharides are included in a meal, a slower rate of carbohydrate and lipid absorption will modify the alimentary hormone and lipid responses.
Objective: We investigated in 11 healthy men the response of insulin, glucose, cholecystokinin, and lipid to 2 test meals containing beta-glucan.
Design: One of the meals was high in fiber (15.7 g) and the other meal was low in fiber (5.0 g). The low-fiber meal contained pasta made with wheat flour. The high-fiber meals contained pasta prepared by replacing 40% of the wheat with 2 types of barley flour: barley naturally high in beta-glucan and the other a flour enriched in beta-glucan during processing.
Results: Plasma glucose and insulin concentrations increased significantly after all meals but the insulin response was more blunted after the barley-containing meals. The test meals were low in fat (25% of energy) but elicited an increase in plasma triacylglycerol and cholecystokinin. Cholecystokinin remained elevated for a longer time after the barley-containing meals. After the low-fiber meal, plasma cholesterol concentrations did not change significantly; however, 4 h after the barley-containing meals, the cholesterol concentration dropped below the fasting concentration and was significantly lower than that after the low-fiber meal.
Conclusions: Carbohydrate was more slowly absorbed from the 2 high-fiber meals. Consumption of the barley-containing meals appeared to stimulate reverse cholesterol transport, which may contribute to the cholesterol-lowering ability of barley.