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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BHNRC) » Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center » Food Components and Health Laboratory » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #105973


item Hallfrisch, Judith
item Scholfield, Daniel
item Behall, Kay

Submitted to: American Association of Cereal Chemists
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/1/2004
Publication Date: 10/1/2004
Citation: Hallfrisch, J.G., Scholfield, D.J., Behall, K.M. Comparison of glucose and insulin responses of men and women to barley and oats. American Association of Cereal Chemists. 34:2690-2698 (2004)

Interpretive Summary: Chronic elevated blood sugar levels are associated with obesity, high blood pressure, high blood lipids and may lead to diabetes. There are over 5 million undiagnosed adult diabetics in the US and because in early stages there are no symptoms, the disease may remain undiagnosed for many years. Certain groups of Americans including Native Americans and Hispanics are more likely to develop diabetes. The consequences of the disease are extremely debilitating including heart disease, stroke, blindness and amputation. There are a number of foods which can help to control blood glucose, thus delay or prevent the development of diabetes. Foods containing high amounts of soluble fiber such as oats and barley are effective in lowering blood sugar levels, but the amounts required to achieve the beneficial effects are more than most Americans are willing to eat. Extracts of barley and oats developed by an ARS scientist were tested in middle-aged men and women. These extracts can be added to a variety of foods replacing fat and increasing fiber content of the diet and thus may be more acceptable to the American palate than standard barley or oats. Barley flour, oat bran, and extracts of both barley and oats lowered blood sugar and insulin levels. Barley was somewhat more effective than the oat-containing foods. Barley and oat extracts retain the beneficial effects of the grains from which they are extracted. These and other grain-based fat substitutes can provide a useful addition to menus to control blood sugar. This research will benefit grain producers, the food industry, health professionals, and the segments of the American public susceptible to development of obesity and diabetes.

Technical Abstract: This study compares the glucose, insulin, and glucagon responses to consumption of highly soluble Beta-glucan compounds from oats and barley. Nine men and eleven women, nondiabetic, aged 35-57, completed the study. Subjects consumed glucose, oat bran, barley flour, or oat or barley extract (Nu-trim X) in a Latin square design after two days of controlled diet. Glucose responses to oats, barley, and both extracts were significantly lower than responses to the glucose solution (p < 0.0001). Areas under the curve for glucose were also lower for all foods than for glucose solution. Insulin responses for barley extract were lowest and were significantly lower than for glucose solution; other responses were intermediate. Barley and oat extracts retain the beneficial effects of the grains from which they are extracted. High-soluble-fiber barley may be more effective than standard oats in lowering glucose response. These and other carbohydrate-based fat substitutes can provide a useful addition to menus to control plasma glucose responses.