An extract from oats known as oat gum (OG) is composed mainly of the polysaccharide (1→3) (1→4)-β-D-glucan, which is highly viscous in aqueous solution. Viscous polysaccharides are known to attenuate postprandial plasma glucose and insulin responses. The purposes of this study were to determine the dose–response to OG and establish quantitatively the effect of viscosity on plasma glucose and insulin levels of healthy humans consuming 50 g glucose. Increasing the dose of OG successively reduced the plasma glucose and insulin responses relative to a control without gum. Reduction of the viscosity of OG by acid hydrolysis reduced or eliminated the capacity to decrease postprandial glucose and insulin levels. The ability of OG to modify glycaemic response was unchanged following agglomeration in the presence of maltodextrin. Agglomerated gum dispersed smoothly in a drink without formation of lumps, and development of maximum viscosity was delayed. These properties improve palatability. There was a highly significant linear relationship between log[viscosity] of the mixtures consumed and the glucose and insulin responses. The relationship shows that 79–96% of the changes in plasma glucose and insulin are attributable to viscosity, and that changes occur at relatively low doses and viscosities.
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