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The effect of β-glucan on the glycemic and insulin index



To determine the effects of oat products with increasing β-glucan content on the glycemic (GI) and insulin indexes (II) of oat products, and to establish the effect of physical properties of β-glucan on these physiological responses.


Test group (n=10) randomly attended to three glucose tolerance tests and glycemic response tests for four oat bran products.


Functional Foods Forum and the Department of Food Chemistry, University of Turku, and the Department of Food Technology, University of Helsinki.


One male and nine female volunteers were recruited from university students and staff, and all completed the study.


GI and II of different products were calculated for each subject using the average of parallel glucose tolerance tests and the subsequent glycemic/insulinemic responses for each product. Average indexes for products were calculated according to the individual data.


The glycemic responses to oat products with increasing amounts of β-glucan had lower peak values than the reference glucose load. The amount of extractable β-glucan had a high correlation between the glycemic and insulinemic response.


In addition to the total amount of β-glucan in oat products, the amount of extractable β-glucan in oat products explains the magnitude of the decrease in glycemic responses to carbohydrate products.

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This work was financially supported by the National Technology Agency of Finland. The work was partly financed by the Finnish Food and Drink Industries’ Federation and the August Johannes and Aino Tiura's scholarship. All the support is gratefully acknowledged.

We acknowledge J Alin (MSc., Biostatistician), from the Department of Biostatistics, University of Turku, for statistical analyses and consultation of the clinical part.

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Correspondence to H Anttila.

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Guarantor: R Tahvonen.

Contributors: RT, MM and ES contributed to the study design. JS was responsible for the human intervention study and supervised the assays. HM and R-MH had an active part in the intervention study and assays. HA and TS-S contributed to the study design and measured the physical properties of β-glucan. HM and HA analyzed the data and they drafted the first manuscript. RT and TS-S edited the final draft of the manuscript with contribution of all the authors.

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Mäkeläinen, H., Anttila, H., Sihvonen, J. et al. The effect of β-glucan on the glycemic and insulin index. Eur J Clin Nutr 61, 779–785 (2007).

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  • glycemic index
  • insulin index
  • β-glucan
  • extractable β-glucan
  • oral glucose tolerance test
  • incremental area under glucose curve

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