FiberHeart Disease

Lowering LDL-cholesterol with concentrated oat beta-glucan

Taking concentrated oat beta-glucan per day for 6 weeks produced a significant reduction from baseline in total and LDL (bad) cholesterol.

But is that enough to achieve any real benefit in protecting from heart disease?

Here are the details.

  • 75 healthy adults with high LDL-cholesterol (159 mg/dL; 4.1 mm/L) blood levels
  • Treatment: 6 grams/day concentrated oat beta-glucan or 6 grams/day dextrose (control).
  • Fasting blood samples were collected at the start of the study, week 3, and week 6.

And the results.

  • The soluble fiber lowered LDL-cholesterol by 11.6 mg/dL (0.3 mm/L).
  • That’s about 7% lower than levels at the start of the study.

The bottom line?
Viscous fibers such as oat beta-glucan interfere with absorption of dietary fat and cholesterol as well as the recirculation of cholesterol and bile acids between the intestines and the liver (enterohepatic recirculation).

When compared to the prescription drug Zetia (ezetimib), which also lowers lipid absorption from the intestines, oat beta-glucan is less than half as effective. Zetia lowers LDL-cholesterol about 18% to 20% vs 7% with oral beta-glucan.

The response to oat beta-glucan is modest but could be a significant complement to cholesterol-lowering therapy. A 0.26 mmoL/L decrease in LDL-cholesterol results in a 12% decrease in the risk of heart disease.

More information about oat beta-glucan is available here and here.

3/30/07 10:49 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.