Fruit drinks enriched with the soluble fiber beta-glucan can lower levels of total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol, the “bad” cholesterol, according to results of a study conducted in the Netherlands.
Dr. Ronald P. Mensink, of Maastricht University, and colleagues evaluated 25 healthy subjects who drank a fruit drink containing beta-glucan from oats and 22 healthy subjects who drank a fruit drink containing 5 grams of rice starch, which served as a placebo. All of the subjects drank the juice every day for five weeks.
Blood samples were obtained before and after the study to measure fats, fat proteins and fat-soluble antioxidants. Non-cholesterol sterols were also measured as markers of cholesterol absorption, and lathosterol was measured to evaluate cholesterol synthesis.
Compared with the placebo group, total cholesterol was reduced by 4.8 percent and LDL cholesterol by 7.7 percent in the beta-glucan group, Mensink’s team reports published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
The investigators also found that the beta-glucan drink decreased cholesterol absorption and increased synthesis, without affecting levels of fat-soluble antioxidants.
The reason beta-glucan lowers LDL cholesterol is not known, they continue. One possible mechanism is that beta-glucan binds with bile acids or increases intestinal viscosity. This results in a decreased reabsorption of bile acids and increased fecal bile acid excretion.
As a result, there is an increase in bile acid synthesis and excretion in the intestine. Cholesterol synthesis in the liver increases at the same time due to a greater need for cholesterol in bile acid production.
SOURCE: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, March 2006.
Revision date: July 3, 2011
Last revised: by Jorge P. Ribeiro, MD