The physiological functionality of cereal beta-glucan (beta-glucan) has been mainly attributed to its ability to form viscous solutions in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. The viscosity is dependent on the concentration, extractability and molecular weight of beta-glucan, and to enable maximal functionality, these factors should therefore be acknowledged and their role in the physiological functionality of cereal beta-glucan further studied. An in vitro GI simulation with separate oral, gastric and small intestine phases was used to model the state of beta-glucan from various oat products in the GI tract. A rather large variation (from 26% to 99%) was observed in the extractabilities between product categories, with the highest extractabilities observed in spoonable products. The viscosities also varied highly within categories. When the comparison was done at similar concentration levels, the highest viscosities were observed in the products produced through dry processes, and moisture content during processing was suggested to be essential to the extent of beta-glucan degradation. The viscosity in samples that were likely to exhibit enzymatic activity was shown to be rather low, and thus the physiological functionality of beta-glucan may be threatened if the product also contains grain ingredients other than kiln-dried oat. Clear differences were observed in the functionality of beta-glucan in the GI tract model depending on a product type, and these were explained by differences in ingredients and processes. However, further studies are needed to specify the influence of each factor and to clarify the factors determining the physiological functionality of beta-glucan in food products.
- 416 Livsmedelsvetenskap