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What Are Beta-Glucans and How Do You Boost Your Intake?

| Reading time 6 Minutes

Beta-glucans: perhaps unseen, yet widely recognised for their association with the numerous health advantages of functional mushrooms. But what precisely are they, how do they benefit you, and how can we ensure adequate intake in our modern lifestyles? Discover the answers in this article.

What are beta-glucans?

what are beta-glucans?

Before delving into the specifics of beta-glucans, or β-glucans as noted in scientific terminology, it’s essential to understand what polysaccharides are. While all β-glucans are polysaccharides, not all polysaccharides are β-glucans.

Polysaccharides, classified within the carbohydrate group, consist of a chain of monosaccharide units. They function as fundamental building blocks for cells and tissues and serve as an energy reserve.

Examples of polysaccharides encompass cellulose, glucose, and fructose. Now, beta-glucans also fall under the category of polysaccharides, yet they stand out due to their intricate chemical structure, unlike the simpler chemical composition of glucose and fructose (sugar).

In contrast to sugar, which offers rapid energy but can lead to various health issues when consumed excessively, β-glucans may yield beneficial health effects:

  • Lowering LDL cholesterol levels,
  • Stabilizing blood sugar levels,
  • Stimulating white blood cells,
  • Strengthening the microbiome.

4 Health benefits of beta-glucans

Scientists have conducted approximately 80 studies on the effects of β-glucans. Here, we delve into four key potential health benefits that have garnered attention:

1. Beta-glucans may possibly lower cholesterol levels

β-glucans have shown promise in reducing LDL cholesterol, commonly referred to as ‘bad’ cholesterol, thereby lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease (1).

2. Stabilising blood sugar levels

Evidence suggests that β-glucans may contribute to stabilising blood sugar levels (2), which can be particularly beneficial for individuals with diabetes or those aiming to regulate their glucose levels.

3. Stimulating white blood cells

β-glucans stimulate white blood cells, including macrophages, which play a crucial role in pathogen destruction. By interacting with specific receptors on white blood cells, notably the dectin-1 receptor (3), they enhance the immune system, leading to increased white blood cell activity and improved immune response.

  • Modified macrophages exhibit enhanced pathogen uptake and destruction through phagocytosis.
  • β-glucans also boost the production of signaling molecules like cytokines, essential for regulating immune responses and facilitating communication between immune cells.

4. Enhancing the microbiome and the immune system

Your microbiome, the group of microorganisms (including bacteria, fungi and archaea) in and on your body, plays a crucial role in your health. Most of your microbiome is located in your intestines, also known as your gut microbiome.

When your microbiome is out of balance, it can lead to an overgrowth of potentially harmful microorganisms. The ‘bad’ bacteria can dominate, making you more susceptible to disease.

β-glucans have a prebiotic effect: they feed the good bacteria in your gut (4). These good bacteria can then help strengthen the gut barrier and improve the overall resistance of your body and mind.

In what foods do you find beta-glucans?

mushrooms are an excellent source of beta-glucans

β-glucans are present in the cell walls of various foods, including oats, barley (a cereal), mushrooms, Turkey Tail supplements, Reishi, baker’s yeast, brown algae, oat bran (the outer layer of the oat grain), and barley grass.

How much β-glucans are in oatmeal?

In a serving of 40-50 grams of cooked oatmeal, the β-glucans content can be approximately 1 gram. The beneficial effects of beta-glucans are observed in individuals consuming around 3 grams of β-glucans per day.

This implies consuming three servings of oatmeal daily – or one serving supplemented with organic mushroom supplements, such as Turkey Tail, renowned for their high β-glucans content.

Additionally, remember to soak your oatmeal in water overnight to reduce its anti-nutrient content. Anti-nutrients may impede the absorption of certain nutrients, potentially leading to nutrient deficiencies.

Extended cooking durations and high temperatures can degrade and diminish the functional properties of β-glucans, so it is advisable not to overcook your oatmeal.

Potential gut issues with excessive oatmeal consumption

For many people, consuming three servings of oatmeal daily can be challenging. Aside from being somewhat monotonous, excessive oatmeal intake may cause intestinal problems for some people due to the following reasons:

  • Oatmeal is rich in fiber, which in moderate amounts supports digestion. However, excessive fiber intake may result in flatulence, bloating, irritated bowels, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea.
  • Excessive fiber consumption can also interfere with the absorption of certain minerals like calcium, iron, zinc, and magnesium.
  • Oatmeal contains FODMAPs (fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols), potentially problematic for individuals with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or sensitive guts.
  • Although oatmeal itself is gluten-free, cross-contamination during processing is possible. Individuals with celiac disease or gluten intolerance may benefit from selecting gluten-free oatmeal.

Supplementing your diet with mushroom supplements is an alternative strategy to enhance β-glucans intake.

Supplementing your diet with mushroom supplements

beta-glucans in turkey tail supplements

Different foods provide various nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. By embracing a diverse and balanced diet (including mushroom supplements), you enhance your likelihood of obtaining all essential nutrients and ensuring their proper absorption by your body.

Regrettably, many individuals adhere to overly restrictive diets, often due to factors such as insufficient information, a prevalent fast-food culture, convenience or time constraints, entrenched habits, economic limitations, or personal taste preferences.

Mushrooms naturally serve as a rich source of several vital nutrients, such as vitamin D, B vitamins, selenium, and copper. Incorporating mushroom supplements into your diet can amplify your intake of these nutrients.

  • Turkey Tail: Recognised for its elevated beta-glucan content (our Turkey Tail guarantees more than 48% beta-glucans), it earns the moniker “mushroom for a strong immune system.”
  • Lion’s Mane: Enriched with hericenones and erinacins, it boasts neuroprotective qualities and aids in supporting the nervous system.
  • Cordyceps: Featuring cordycepin, a nucleoside renowned for enhancing stamina.
  • Reishi: Packed with beta-glucans and triterpenes like ganoderic acids, it offers anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits.
  • Chaga: Abounding in β-glucans and polyphenols like melanin, it shields cells from oxidative stress.

The importance of laboratory testing for our mushrooms

Not all functional mushrooms are created equal. While Turkey Tail generally harbours high beta-glucan concentrations, the extraction and purification methods significantly influence the actual beta-glucan content in supplements.

To ensure unparalleled quality, we employ premier extraction and purification techniques and subject our mushroom supplements to comprehensive testing by independent third-party laboratories. Not only do we scrutinise them for toxins, but we also strive for absolute purity.

Moreover, we conduct specific tests for beta-glucans, triterpenes, and other crucial nutrients, recognising that these components vary across mushroom species. It’s imperative to note that beta-glucans can only be accurately measured through a dedicated test, distinct from polysaccharides.

Thus, scrutinise product labels meticulously to ascertain optimal quality. At MushPeak, transparency is paramount – you can access the lab results for every product batch on our website (check the product pages), underscoring our unwavering commitment to quality assurance.

Mushrooms: the perfect source for beta-glucans

Whatever mushroom supplement you choose, with MushPeak you can be sure to get premium quality. Do you have any questions or need personal advice? Feel free to contact us, we are happy to help!

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Supplements should not be used as a replacement for a diverse diet, a healthy lifestyle, or as a treatment for any medical condition. Keep this product out of the reach of children. If you are ill, pregnant, or in doubt, always consult with your healthcare provider. The information provided on this website is intended for general informational purposes and should not be considered as medical advice. While traditional Chinese medicine has a history spanning thousands of years and has been tested on numerous individuals, MushPeak does not make claims indicating the proven medicinal properties of herbs or mushrooms, in accordance with current EU legislation. Detailed information about mushrooms is available from publicly accessible sources on the Internet. Please feel free to contact us with any questions.


  1. Queenan, K. M., Stewart, M. L., Smith, K. N., Thomas, W., Fulcher, R. G., & Slavin, J. L. (2007). Concentrated oat beta-glucan, a fermentable fiber, lowers serum cholesterol in hypercholesterolemic adults in a randomized controlled trial. Nutrition journal, 6, 6.
  2. Li, X., Chen, P., Zhang, P., Chang, Y., Cui, M., & Duan, J. (2019). Protein-Bound β-glucan from Coriolus Versicolor has Potential for Use Against Obesity. Molecular nutrition & food research, 63(7), e1801231.
  3. Taylor, P. R., Brown, G. D., Reid, D. M., Willment, J. A., Martinez-Pomares, L., Gordon, S., & Wong, S. Y. (2002). The beta-glucan receptor, dectin-1, is predominantly expressed on the surface of cells of the monocyte/macrophage and neutrophil lineages. Journal of immunology (Baltimore, Md. : 1950), 169(7), 3876–3882.
  4. Russo, P., López, P., Capozzi, V., de Palencia, P. F., Dueñas, M. T., Spano, G., & Fiocco, D. (2012). Beta-glucans improve growth, viability and colonization of probiotic microorganisms. International journal of molecular sciences, 13(5), 6026–6039.

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