Hyperlipidemia and type 2 diabetes mellitus in middle-aged and elderly subjects are becoming an increased burden for the health-care system for European countries. One type of soluble fibre, cereal beta-glucans, has been claimed to be especially active to lower plasma lipid levels and also to improve the glucose tolerance. Thus, cereals rich in beta-glucans may be a useful nutritional tool to better control these metabolic disorders. One problem, however, is that the acceptability of these products is too low for many consumers. This could be improved by offering a wider range of foods enriched in beta-glucans. The major limiting factor for the exploitation of this effect is that presently beta-glucans can only be added in a low amount to foods due to problems with induced changes in viscosity, texture and flavour, which in turn are due to the low purity of available beta-glucan preparations.
The main objectives of the project are:
- To develop methods for the isolation of different types of high purity soluble beta-glucans on an industrial scale from cereals, such as oats and barley;
- To characterise the chemical, physical and sensory properties of the new beta-glucan preparations;
- To evaluate the physiological effects of the new beta-glucan preparations in an animal model and in humans;
- To incorporate the new beta-glucan preparations in new food prototypes;
- To evaluate the consumer acceptance of the new food prototypes;
- To evaluate the physiological effects of the new food prototypes in humans.
- New preparations of beta-glucans from cereals with previously unattained purity and subjected to thorough chemical and sensory characterisation.
- Scientific basis to predict the impact of different beta-glucan preparations on lipid and glucose metabolism in relation to chemical properties.
- Development of a new range of beta-glucan enriched functional food prototypes with good consumer acceptability.
- Consumers: Functional foods containing cereal derived beta-glucans to improve the control of hyperlipidaemia and of blood glucose.
- Industry: A new, natural ingredient having scientifically proven 'functional food' properties in the extremely important food-health area.