In the present study, we evaluated the cholesterol-lowering effects of different oat bran (OB) preparations, differing regarding their peak molecular weight (MWp) of β-glucans (2348, 1311, 241, 56, 21 or < 10 kDa), in C57BL/6NCrl mice. The diets were designed to be atherogenic (0·8 % cholesterol and 0·1 % cholic acid), and they reflected the Western diet pattern (41 % energy fat). All OB preparations that were investigated significantly reduced plasma cholesterol when compared with a cellulose-containing control diet, regardless of the molecular weight of β-glucan. Moreover, the difference in viscous properties between the processed OB (from 0·11 to 17·7 l/g) did not appear to play a major role in the cholesterol-lowering properties. In addition, there was no correlation between the molecular weight of β-glucan and the amount of propionic acid formed in caecum. Interestingly, however, there was a significant correlation between the ratio of (propionic acid+butyric acid)/acetic acid and the MWp of β-glucans: the ratio increased with increasing molecular weight. The results of the present study suggest that the molecular weights and viscous properties of β-glucan in oat products may not be crucial parameters for their cholesterol-lowering effects.
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