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Study confirms barley's effectiveness in lowering cholesterol

Another clinical trial conducted by researchers from the United States Department of Agriculture/Agriculture Research Service (USDA/ARS) has bolstered previous evidence that fiber found in barley may be effective in lowering cholesterol in men and women.

Researchers from the USDA/ARS Human Nutrition Research Center in Beltsville, MD designed a clinical trial to investigate whether consumption of barley would reduce cardiovascular disease risk factors comparably with other food sources containing soluble fiber. Final data from the trial was presented in an article titled "Diets containing barley significantly reduce lipids in mildly hypercholesterolemic men and women" published in the November 2004 edition of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (AJCN).

According to the AJCN article, the clinical trial focused on a small group of men, post-menopausal women and pre-menopausal women with moderately elevated cholesterol levels. For the trial, the men and women were given controlled American Heart Association Step 1 diets for a total of 17 weeks. After a two-week adaptation period, whole grain foods containing 0, 3 and 6 grams of soluble fiber per day from barley were added to the diet menus. The men and women ate the modified diets containing 0, 3 and 6 grams of soluble fiber from barley for five weeks each. Researchers measured cholesterol levels at the end of each five-week period.

After analyzing all data from the trial, the researchers reported that total cholesterol levels of the men and women were significantly lower when they ate diets containing 3 grams or 6 grams of soluble fiber per day from barley compared to eating diets containing no soluble fiber. Specifically, total cholesterol levels declined by about 9% following the addition of 3 grams soluble fiber per day and by 10% following the addition of 6 grams soluble fiber per day. The researchers reported that LDL (often called "bad cholesterol") levels also significantly decreased when the men and women ate diets containing soluble fiber from barley. Specifically, LDL cholesterol levels were lower by nearly 14% following the addition of 3 grams soluble fiber per day and by 17% following the addition of 6 grams soluble fiber per day.

The researchers concluded that the addition of barley to a healthy diet may be effective in lowering total and LDL cholesterol in both men and women.

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