Barley beta-glucans and lowering of blood cholesterol and reduced risk of (coronary) heart disease


Barley beta-glucans, fibre, blood cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol, health claims
First published in the EFSA Journal
8 December 2011
23 November 2011
Opinion of the Scientific Committee/Scientific Panel

Following an application from Valens Int. d.o.o. submitted pursuant to Article 14 of Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006 via the Competent Authority of Slovenia, the Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies was asked to deliver an opinion on the scientific substantiation of a health claim related to barley beta-glucans and lowering of blood cholesterol and reduced risk of (coronary) heart disease, referring to disease risk reduction and including a request for the protection of proprietary data. The food constituent that is the subject of the health claim, barley beta-glucans, is sufficiently characterised. Lowering blood LDL-cholesterol concentration is a beneficial physiological effect by decreasing the risk of coronary heart disease. The applicant identified a total of eight references as being pertinent to the health claim. These references included two meta-analyses and six human studies. In weighing the evidence, the Panel took into account that one meta-analysis including 11 RCTs, and one additional RCT, which investigated the effects of barley beta-glucans at doses of at least 3 g/day showed a decrease in total and LDL-cholesterol concentrations in both normo- and hypercholesterolaemic subjects, and that there is evidence supporting the biological plausibility of the mechanism of the effect. The Panel concludes that a cause and effect relationship has been established between the consumption of barley beta-glucans and lowering of blood LDL-cholesterol concentrations. The following wording reflects the scientific evidence: “Barley beta-glucans have been shown to lower/reduce blood cholesterol. High cholesterol is a risk factor in the development of coronary heart disease”. At least 3 g of barley beta-glucans should be consumed per day in order to obtain the claimed effect. The target population is adults who want to lower their blood cholesterol concentrations.

Panel members at the time of adoption
Carlo Agostoni, Jean-Louis Bresson, Susan Fairweather-Tait, Albert Flynn, Ines Golly, Hannu Korhonen, Pagona Lagiou, Martinus Løvik, Rosangela Marchelli, Ambroise Martin, Bevan Moseley, Monika Neuhäuser-Berthold, Hildegard Przyrembel, Seppo Salminen, Yolanda Sanz, Sean (J.J.) Strain, Stephan Strobel, Inge Tetens, Daniel Tomé, Hendrik van Loveren and Hans Verhagen
Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies
nda [at]
EFSA Journal 2011;9(12):2471 [13 pp.].
Question Number
On request from
Competent Authority of Slovenia following an application by Valens Int. d.o.o.
Print on demand
Number of Pages