The new product, to be marketed as "Nu-Trim," contains high concentrations of beta-glucans, soluble fibers found in oats and barley that are known to lower LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol, factors which have been linked to heart disease.
Nu-Trim is the first fat substitute designed specifically to meet U.S. Food and Drug Administration requirements for food products that can be advertised as good for the heart, said chemist George E. Inglett, Ph.D., of the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Peoria, who created the product.
Dr. Inglett has worked on oat-and barley-based fat substitutes for the past 10 years and has developed two previous products, Oatrim and Z-Trim. Oatrim is widely used in the food industry, and Z-Trim is in the process of being licensed. But neither of these products qualify for a "heart-healthy" label.
Several other researchers from the USDA and elsewhere also reported on the health benefits of Nu-Trim and other beta-glucan sources during the ACS meeting today:
Wallace H. Yokoyama, Ph.D., a scientist at the USDA research center in Albany, Calif., said that because of the way it is processed, Nu-Trim makes more soluble beta-glucans available to the digestive system than does a comparable amount of whole-grain oats or barley.
Beta-glucans may also play a role in regulating blood sugar levels. Studies conducted by Judith Hallfrisch, Ph.D., and Kay M. Behall, Ph.D., researchers at the ARS Human Nutrition Research Center in Beltsville, Md., suggest that beta-glucans lower and steady the production of insulin, released by the pancreas in response to glucose intake, by forming gels that slow the absorption of the glucose from the intestine.