Alberta Barley

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The effect of barley beta-glucan on human glycemic response: a meta-analysis

Project lead:
Dr. Nancy Ames
Research Scientist
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Timeline: April 2013 – March 2015


Alberta Barley funding: $2,300
Total funding from other partners: $14,300

Benefits for barley farmers
The findings will help identify if there are gaps in the research and guide Canadian barley stakeholders in preparing a new health claim submission for barley related to glycemic control. Furthering knowledge of the health benefits of barley will contribute to scientific evidence supporting the legislation of health claims for barley, giving barley farmers, food manufacturers and retailers a valuable marketing tool.

Progress has been made towards completion of a meta-analysis of the relationship between barley consumption and glycemic response. A comprehensive literature search has been completed and systematic selection of quality studies based on stringent requirements is ongoing.

Recent developments – June 2016
The majority of the work on this activity was completed and reported on in Year 2 (2014-15) of the Cluster Project. However important updates to the meta-analysis were made during this project year (2015-16) to include recently published data. This updated analysis is therefore based on a total of 17 studies that included 68 different treatments (which covered a range of food types) and 212 subjects. The statistical analysis was re-run and results outputs (Tables/Figures) were updated and integrated into a draft manuscript. The study was registered on Prospero, an official database of on-going systematic reviews. A manuscript on the results of the meta-analysis has been prepared as an original article and submitted for publication.

Objectives for the upcoming year – June 2016
Technology transfer and results dissemination is an area of focus for the remainder of the project timeline.

In order to precisely quantify the efficacy of barley and barley products as a means to control glycemic response and diabetes, a statistical meta-analysis was performed on the data from randomized controlled clinical trials published to date. This analysis involved a comprehensive literature search and systematic selection of studies prior to applying a powerful statistical tool to determine results from pooled estimates. The meta-analysis indicated that consumption of barley and barley β-glucan was effective in lowering postprandial glycaemic response in a healthy population and identified gaps in the literature that could help improve future clinical studies.

The findings of this study contribute to substantiating the health benefits of barley, inevitably helping to integrate more whole barley foods into the average consumer diet, improve the health of Canadians, and assist the barley industry capitalize on the market potential for innovative food products that meet the needs of health conscious consumers and an increasingly diabetic population.

The goal of this research activity has been met and results are published in the Journal of Functional Foods.

AbuMweis, S., Thandapilly, S. J., Storsley, J., & Ames, N. (2016). Effect of barley β-glucan on postprandial glycaemic response in the healthy human population: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Journal of Functional Foods, 27, 329-342. doi:10.1016/j.jff.2016.08.057

Updated July 16, 2018