Beta-Glucans: Not All the Same

"This article is written by Nataly López Barón (Ph.D. in Food Science), the Head Food Scientist at Cerabeta and Sunny Boy Foods. Nataly completed her Doctorate of Philosophy at the University of Alberta having extensively studied the effect of plant proteins on in vitro starch digestibility. She is passionate about sharing the positive effects of cereal beta-glucan to help others live better and have healthier lives"


Why is Cereal Beta-glucan so special in lowering cholesterol naturally?

Are you thinking of taking beta-glucan fiber to help lower your cholesterol naturally? If so, read the label carefully before buying any supplement because not all beta-glucans are the same. Only beta-glucan extracted from cereals (oats and barley) have the lowering cholesterol effect.

Beta Glucans: Not all the Same | Blog | Cerabeta


Beta-glucan is a fiber that is naturally present in the cell walls of cereals (oat and barley), yeast and mushrooms, and its health benefits are different depending on the source. If you search online, there are several beta-glucan products that offer different solutions to health problems. However, keep in mind that not all beta-glucans lower cholesterol, and not all these supplements have enough scientific evidence to prove the health claims written on their labels.

A health claim is a statement on the label of a product that relates the product to a health benefit. A health claim must have enough scientific evidence to be approved by a regulatory body such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Health Canada, European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), etc.

In this post, you will find the differences between beta-glucans available in the market, and what makes cereal beta-glucans special and unique to be a natural lowering cholesterol alternative.


1. Yeast beta-glucan

Yeast beta-glucan | Beta Glucans: Not all the Same | Blog | Cerabeta

There are different types of yeast beta-glucan supplements, but the most commonly known is baker’s yeast beta-glucan, usually related to immune health. This beta-glucan is extracted from the cell walls of Saccharomyces cerevisiae, a yeast that ferments sugars into alcohol and carbon dioxide during bread making (also known as brewer’s yeast). Yeast beta-glucan is water insoluble in nature, and therefore it needs to be solubilized as part of the supplement production process. To make it soluble, yeast beta-glucan is placed in an acidic solution at elevated temperature and high pressure (using nitrogen), a process that consumes a lot of water and energy. 

Baker’s yeast beta-glucan is Generally Regarded as Safe (GRAS) at 200 milligrams per serving, and many clinical studies have shown its relationship with a stronger immune system. However, this immunological effect is related to the yeast strain and the process of extraction. Therefore, more evidence is needed for baker’s yeast beta-glucan to be approved by regulatory agencies (Health Canada, FDA, EFSA) to have the corresponding health claims on a product label.

Yeast beta-glucan does not have scientific evidence to lower cholesterol. That means that if you take yeast beta-glucan you won’t see any heart health benefit.


2. Mushroom beta-glucan

Mushroom beta-glucan | Beta-glucans: Not all the Same | Blog | Cerabeta

Mushrooms have become very popular in the health and wellness industry due to the presence of bioactive components such as beta-glucan in their tissues. These beta-glucans are mainly water insoluble fibers and have been extracted to create supplements. However, due to the extraordinary number of mushroom species in nature, it is very challenging for scientists to study their beta-glucan chemical structure and bioactivity. Therefore, it is complex to generalize the immunity and anti-cancer health benefits associated with mushroom beta-glucan consumption.

Compared to cereal beta-glucan and yeast beta-glucan, mushroom beta-glucan has not been well documented, and scientific studies have shown contradictory results in terms of immune system support. Therefore, more research is needed to better understand the potential health benefits and dosages required based on beta-glucan purity, molecular weight and structure.

TIP: When buying a product look at the complete label, especially the fine print. If you find the following statement in products from the US, it means that they do not have health claims approved by FDA. In other words, there is not enough scientific evidence to link that product with a health benefit.

“These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease”.


3. Cereal beta-glucan

Cereal beta-glucan | Beta-glucans: Not all the Same | Blog | Cerabeta

Cereal Beta-glucan is a fiber found in oat and barley grains. This fiber has magic! In the proper concentration/dosage, it lowers cholesterol naturally and moderates glucose spikes increasing satiety. Cereal beta-glucan is the only fiber with enough scientific evidence to reduce cardiovascular heart disease by lowering cholesterol, and it is approved by regulatory agencies in Canada, USA and the EU.

The magic of cereal beta-glucan fiber comes from its unique natural structure, solubility and viscosity!

Cereal beta-glucan fiber can be found in breakfast porridge, and it is responsible for the thickness of it! However, you would have to eat enormous amounts of this porridge to get the proper beta-glucan dosage to effectively lower cholesterol, and that would drastically increase the carbohydrate intake affecting your sugar levels. Fortunately, we have created Cerabeta, a premium product formulated with the right amount of barley beta-glucan to help lower your cholesterol naturally without consuming an excess of carbs.

Chemical structure and solubility are the main attributes that play a role in the cholesterol-lowering mechanism of cereal beta-glucan. When you take cereal beta-glucan fiber, it increases the viscosity of the intestine and binds to bile acids reducing their circulation back to the liver. Bound bile acids cannot be reabsorbed and instead, they leave through the digestive tract. As a result, the liver takes cholesterol from blood to replace the lost bile acids, reducing total and LDL cholesterol levels!

To produce Cerabeta, we use a clean technology to carefully separate beta-glucan from Non-GMO Canadian barley grains, using zero chemicals or enzymes to give you the best health benefits.


The Bottom Line

We know that it may be overwhelming sometimes to search for the correct lowering cholesterol beta-glucan product, but now you can make an informed decision by carefully reading the labels.

Type of Beta-glucan

Health Claim(s) Approved by Regulatory Agencies

Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS)

Soluble in water (Naturally)



(Barley and oats)


Helps lower cholesterol

May reduce the risk of heart disease

Shown to reduce blood cholesterol








β-(1-3) and β-(1-4)









(Baker’s yeast beta-glucan)







β-(1-3) and β-(1-6)









(Ganoderma lucidum beta-glucan)







β-(1-3) and β-(1-6)


Yeast and mushroom beta-glucans have been linked to immune support. However, their consumption should be considered with caution. More research is needed to have sufficient evidence of their claimed health benefits.

In contrast, cereal beta-glucan (barley and oat) is the only fiber clinically proven with enough scientific evidence to lower cholesterol, and it is approved by regulatory agencies. What makes cereal beta-glucan unique is its natural solubility in water, viscosity and structure that other beta-glucans don’t have!





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