Effects of Processing on Physicochemical Properties and Efficacy of β-Glucan from Oat and Barley
β-Glucan from oat and barley is a viscous soluble fiber with proven health benefits. The highly viscous nature of β-glucan has been shown to be a key factor in improving glycemic response and lowering cholesterol. Because viscosity is a function of β-glucan concentration, solubility, and molecular weight (MW), external factors affecting one or more of these properties have the potential to influence human physiological responses. Processing methods commonly used in the manufacturing and preparation of oat and barley foods include heat treatment of the grain, milling, flaking, baking, freezing, extrusion, dough resting, and addition of ingredients. These processing methods have been shown to impact β-glucan MW and solubility, resulting in altered β-glucan viscosity. Understanding the positive and negative effects of various processing methods on β-glucan is valuable for the development of food products that are high in β-glucan and have physiological benefits.