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Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism
Volume 2012, Article ID 851362, 28 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2012/851362
Review Article

Beta Glucan: Health Benefits in Obesity and Metabolic Syndrome

Department of Nutritional Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada M5S 3E2

Received 9 June 2011; Accepted 27 October 2011

Academic Editor: Frank Thies

Copyright © 2012 D. El Khoury et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Despite the lack of international agreement regarding the definition and classification of fiber, there is established evidence on the role of dietary fibers in obesity and metabolic syndrome. Beta glucan ( 𝛽 -glucan) is a soluble fiber readily available from oat and barley grains that has been gaining interest due to its multiple functional and bioactive properties. Its beneficial role in insulin resistance, dyslipidemia, hypertension, and obesity is being continuously documented. The fermentability of 𝛽 -glucans and their ability to form highly viscous solutions in the human gut may constitute the basis of their health benefits. Consequently, the applicability of 𝛽 -glucan as a food ingredient is being widely considered with the dual purposes of increasing the fiber content of food products and enhancing their health properties. Therefore, this paper explores the role of 𝛽 -glucans in the prevention and treatment of characteristics of the metabolic syndrome, their underlying mechanisms of action, and their potential in food applications.