Viscous and nonviscous fibres, nonabsorbable and low glycaemic index carbohydrates, blood lipids and coronary heart disease

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Abstract

Viscous fibres such as guar, glucomannans, pectins, oat β-glucan and psyllium continue to be seen as hypocholesterolaemic. Nevertheless, in large cohort studies, ironically it is the insoluble cereal fibre that has been demonstrated to relate negatively to cardiovascular disease and diabetes, despite an absence of effect on fasting lipids or postprandial glycaemia. In general, resistant or nonabsorbable starch is lipid neutral, whereas some nonabsorbable sugars or oligosaccharides may raise serum cholesterol, possibly through providing more acetate after colonic fermentation by colonic microflora. On the other hand, fructo-oligosaccharides appear to reduce serum triglycerides for reasons that are not entirely clear. Of possibly greater recent interest have been the carbohydrates that are not so much resistant to absorption, but rather are slowly absorbed. They possess some of the features of dietary fibre in providing a substrate for colonic bacterial fermentation. In the small intestine, however, they form lente or sustained release carbohydrate. In the form of low glycaemic index foods, lente carbohydrate consumption has been shown to relate to improved blood lipid profiles in hyperlipidaemic individuals and improved glycaemic control in diabetes. In larger cohort studies, low glycaemic index foods or low glycaemic load diets have been associated with higher HDL-cholesterol levels and reduced incidence of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

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