barley grains

Beta glucans are sugars derived from a variety of cereal grains and plants.

Beta Glucans

Also Known as β-Glucans

What are Beta Glucans?

Beta Glucans are immunoresponse agents contained naturally in a variety of cereal grains and plants to promote immune efficiency and fend off unwanted bacteria. β-Glucans are sugars found in baker’s yeast, certain bacteria, and certain fungi. The diverse group of molecules comprising beta glucans can vary in respect to solubility, viscosity, molecular mass, and configuration depending on the sugar characteristics at hand. One of the most common baking sources containing beta glucans is within the cell wall of Saccharomyces cerevisiae, or baker’s yeast. More specifically, within the cell wall of yeast the forms 1,3/1,6 Beta glucans can be derived. The bran of cereal grains such as wheat, barley, rye and oats also contain Beta glucans.


Consumption aids in many health benefits as Beta glucans are known as biological defense modifiers or BDMs. BDMs promote an array of healing effects generated by immune cells. Beta glucans have capabilities to generate macrophage immune cells, T-Cells, and B-Cells respectively promoting disease inhibition and battling illness.

In fact, in the realm of medicine Beta glucans are used as supplements. Taken supplementally in conjunction with a healthy diet and exercise regime, Beta glucans can combat chronic fatigue, chronic stress, or aid in suppressing stress from radiation and chemotherapy treatments. Individuals affected by high cholesterol, diabetes, cancer, HIV/AIDS can also benefit from either supplemental ingestion or Beta glucan injection to boost immune response.


Chemically, beta glucans are polysaccharides comprised of glucose linked via β-glycosidic bonds. Beta-glucans form long cylindrical molecules containing up to about 250,000 glucose units.

Beta Glucans composition

Chemical structure of beta glucans.


The cell walls of yeast and the bran of whole grains are not the only sources, however. Beta glucans can be found within the food and baking industry used commercially to modify food texture and as fat substitutes. As an additive, Beta glucans are used in sour cream, salad dressings, frozen items, and cheese spreads as a stabilizing agent.