European Journal of Clinical Nutrition
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July 2002, Volume 56, Number 7, Pages 622-628
Table of contents    Previous  Abstract  Next   Full text  PDF
Original Communication
Depression of the glycemic index by high levels of bold beta-glucan fiber in two functional foods tested in type 2 diabetes
A L Jenkins1, D J A Jenkins1,2, U Zdravkovic1, P Würsch3 and V Vuksan1,2

1Clinical Nutrition and Risk Factor Modification Centre, St Michael's Hospital, Toronto, Canada

2Department Nutritional Sciences, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada

3Nestlé Product Technology Centre, Orbe, Switzerland

Correspondence to: V Vuksan, Clinical Nutrition and Risk Factor Modification Centre, St Michael's Hospital, 64 Queen St E, Toronto, ON, Canada M5C 2T2. E-mail:

Guarantor: Dr V Vuksan.

Contributors: AJ was involved in the day-to-day running of the study, study recruitment, data analysis and preparation of the manuscript. DJ contributed to the initial design of the study, supplied the laboratory facilities and was involved in writing the paper; UZ was responsible for the drawing of samples, laboratory analysis and patient care; PW was responsible for the product development and supply, and design of the protocol; VV was involved in the design of the study, supervision of the running of the study, including laboratory analysis and writing of the paper.


Objectives: To determine the extent to which beta-glucan reduces the glycemic index (GI) of oat products and whether high levels of beta-glucan impair palatability.

Design: The study design was an open-label, randomized cross-over study with six treatment segments.

Setting: Free-living outpatients.

Subjects: Sixteen volunteers with type 2 diabetes (10 men, six women, 61±2 y, body mass index 29±2 kg/m2, HbA1c 7.4±0.4%) were recruited from the St Michael's Hospital diabetes clinic.

Interventions: Volunteers were given, in random order, 50 g available carbohydrate portions of: white bread; a commercial oat bran breakfast cereal (4.4 g% beta-glucan); and a prototype beta-glucan-enriched breakfast cereal and bar, both high in beta-glucan (8.1 and 6.5 g% beta-glucan, respectively) and sweetened with fructose. Capillary blood samples were taken fasting and then 30, 60, 90, 120, 150 and 180 min after the start of the meal. Palatability was recorded using two different methods.

Results: The glycemic indices of the prototype beta-glucan cereal (mean±s.e.m.; 52±5) and beta-glucan bar (43±4.1) were significantly lower than the commercial oat bran breakfast cereal (86±6) and white bread (100; P<0.05). All foods were highly palatable and not significantly different. It was found that the GI of the test foods used in this study decreased by 4.0±0.2 units per gram of beta-glucan compared to our estimate of 3.8±0.6 for studies reported in the literature.

Conclusion: Addition of beta-glucan predictably reduces the GI while maintaining palatability. In a 50 g carbohydrate portion each gram of beta-glucan reduces the GI by 4 units, making it a useful functional food component for reducing postprandial glycemia.

Sponsorship: Nestec, Switzerland.

European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2002) 56, 622-628. doi:10.1038/sj.ejcn.1601367


beta-glucan fiber; glycemic index; oat bran; fructose; functional foods; nutraceuticals

Received 18 September 2000; revised 12 October 2001; accepted 17 October 2001
July 2002, Volume 56, Number 7, Pages 622-628
Table of contents    Previous  Abstract  Next   Full text  PDF