Fiona is the editor of Plantpuree. With over two decades of experience in the wellness and fashion sectors, plus a degree in philosophy, she brings a unique perspective to her editorial role at Plantpuree. Whether it’s discussing ethical issues around veganism or pushing for eco-friendly fashion choices, her thoughtful and analytical approach ensures that readers are empowered with accessible, reliable information and knowledge they can trust. She delights in unearthing exciting facts and figures that surprise even the most seasoned experts!
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More? More! Roared the master at poor little Oliver Twist! No longer associated with the watery gruel of Charles Dickens’s poorhouse, oats are a nutritious and versatile grain that can be used in many different ways to make porridge. And if you didn’t know already, porridge by itself is always vegan unless you add animal-derived ingredients to it or it’s processed; particularly with instant porridge oats which often contain some form of non-vegan additives.
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But did you know there is much more to porridge than just oats? This vegan friendly dish is made all over the world from various plant-based grains and seeds- giving it many different textures, flavors, and identities. There truly is something for everyone with this staple.
In this article, we’ll take a good look at the different types of porridge and oats including what added ingredients to watch out for if you are vegan. We’ll also look at which brands are vegan and which aren’t.
Finally, we have some great suggestions for vegan porridge toppings and for those who want a high protein vegan porridge -we’ve got you’ve covered! By the end of this post, you’ll be an expert on porridge for vegans!
Table of Contents
Is Porridge Vegan?
Yes, by itself, porridge is vegan, as it is made from plant-based grains such as oats. However, brands and restaurants may add ingredients that are not vegan such as honey or milk. You will need to scrutinize the ingredients list carefully or check with the manufacturer and restaurant if you are unsure.
What is Porridge?
So, we’ve established that porridge is vegan but did you know that porridge is so much more than the lumpy oat breakfast mixture that comes to mind when picturing it? Typically made by cooking grains in water or milk until they are soft, its versatility and flavor options extend far beyond oats and make it a popular dish internationally.
In North America, UK and throughout Europe, porridge oats are typically served during breakfast.
But porridge is also enjoyed during the day, all day long in other parts of the world using a range of grains including rice, cornmeal, millet and more.
From Mexican champurrado made with masa harina to Carribbean red beans and rice porridge for dinner, there are endless ways to enjoy porridge. And, as is the case with many plant-based foods, porridge is also a great source of nutrients and is often touted for its health benefits, including improvements in digestion, cardiovascular health, blood sugar regulation, and more. (1)
Types of Vegan Porridge Around the World
Porridge is a favourite dish in many cultures, and you won’t have to search hard to find a variety of recipes from around the world.
For the purpose of the article we’ll mainly be focusing on porridge oats but take a look at this table to get an idea of all the different types of grains and porridge dishes that are prepared around the world – all of which are vegan or can easily be adapted to a vegan diet.
|Porridge Dish||Description||Is it Vegan|
|Champorado||Champorado is a sweet chocolate rice porridge made with sticky rice and tablea. It originates from Mexico, but the Filipino version uses glutinous rice instead of corn masa like the Mexican Champurrado.||YES, but make sure plant-based milks such as coconut or almond are used|
|Champurrado||Champurrado is a thin chocolate-based Mexican porridge. It is typically drunk as a breakfast or dessert, and is made with masa harina (corn flour), chocolate , water, piloncillo (raw sugar), cinnamon and other spices.||YES, but watch out for the use of dairy milk in restaurants|
|Congee||Congee is a traditional rice porridge that is popular in many Asian countries such as China, Japan, Korea, Thailand and Vietnam. It can be made with water or a broth and the combination of flavorings and toppings are endless. Common congee ingredients include garlic, ginger, green onions, and more.||YES, but check for the addition of non-vegan ingredients in restaurants|
|Grits||Grits are a porridge made from ground cornmeal cooked in water or milk. They are popular in the Southern United States and are typically eaten for breakfast or dinner. As with congee, there are many different flavor and topping combinations for grits and they can be served savoury or sweet.||YES, but watch out for added non-vegan ingredients such as butter|
|Jamaican Cornmeal Porridge||Jamaican cornmeal porridge is a traditional meal that can be eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It is made with cornmeal and coconut milk or water, and can be given extra flavor with the addition of vanilla, cinnamon and other spices.||YES|
|Kasha||Kasha is a type of porridge that originated in Eastern Europe. It is made from roasted buckwheat and is typically served in both sweet and savory dishes. Kasha can be enjoyed on its own with some maple syrup, or added to soups and stews for an extra dose of protein and fiber.||YES, but ask about the addition of non-vegan ingredients if you are eating out|
|Oatmeal||Made from ground oats and typically served as a breakfast dish, oatmeal has been a popular breakfast food for centuries. From plain rolled oats to steel cut oats, flavored varieties like apple cinnamon and even overnight oats that you can make ahead – the options for enjoying oatmeal are endless.||YES, but check menus and ingredients lists for the addition of honey, milk and butter.|
|Polenta||Polenta is a thick Italian porridge made from cornmeal, and often served as an entree. It is cooked with water or combined with other ingredients, like herbs or vegan cheese, to make different variations.||YES, but checked it isn’t served with butter and non-vegan cheese|
What are Porridge Oats?
Porridge oats are grains derived from oat groats, cultivated directly from the plant. Oat groats are whole, toasted oat grains. They are often processed into other oat products that are easier to use and cook. Except for oat bran, all oats are whole grains. The different types of oat products have different textures and take different amounts of time to cook, depending on how much they have been processed.
Where vegans have to be mindful is around the processing of the oats. For example, many manufacturers include non vegan ingredients during the processing of porridge oats into instant porridge. We’ll discuss this further on in the post.
Types of Oats
There are several types of oats used to make porridge, each of which can differ in terms of their texture, flavor, and nutritional content.
Steel-cut oats/Irish Oats
Steel-cut oats also known as Irish Oats are oats that have been cut into 2 to 4 small pieces rather than being rolled. They have a chewy, nutty texture and take longer to cook than rolled oats or quick oats. They are the least processed of the porridge oats and usually take around 20 to 30 minutes to cook. Steel cut oatmeal is an excellent choice for breakfast due to its unique nutritional benefits. Its size and shape make it difficult for the body to break down quickly, leading to slower digestion times than rolled oats. This prevents sudden spikes in your blood sugar levels while keeping you feeling full longer!
Scottish oats are stone ground oats as opposed to cut or rolled. The resulting oatmeal is not as fine as flour and has a slightly grainier texture. They also cook faster than steel-cut oats and usually take around 10 minutes to prepare.
With varieties such as jumbo, old fashioned and quick oats, these are oats that have been steamed and rolled into flakes. They are the most common type of porridge oats and are often used to make porridge.
Rolled oats vary in texture which has an effect on both their cooking time and final consistency. Jumbo varieties are comparatively thicker with more chewiness, needing to be soaked or cooked before eating; while thinner options such as quick oats make a velvety porridge within a few minutes.
Along with being a staple of porridge and overnight oats, rolled oats can also be used for baking and granola bars.
Instant oats are oats that have been processed so they can be cooked very quickly. They are steamed, rolled into very thin flakes, have a smooth texture and take just a few minutes to make into porridge. Typically sold in sachets or pots, although they are convenient, they may not keep you satisfied for as long because they are quickly digested compared to rolled oats and oatmeal.
The key issue for vegans with instant oats or porridge pots is that many brands include added sugar, milk derivatives and other non-vegan ingredients. You really do need to check the ingredients carefully if you choose instant oats or ready to eat porridges.
For a great You Tube video explanation on the different types of oats – watch this video from The Vegan Fit You Tube Channel:
Are Oatmeal and Porridge the Same?
The answer is yes and no when it comes to whether or not oatmeal and porridge are the same! In the United Kingdom, cooked oats are commonly called porridge, while in America and Canada, it is more commonly referred to as oatmeal so it’s not surprising that there is some confusion.
People often use the terms “oatmeal” and “porridge” to mean the same thing, but they are not always exactly the same. Yes, oatmeal is one kind of porridge, however, the term “porridge” can refer to any type of grain that is simmered in a liquid, while “oatmeal” specifically refers to oats that have been cooked in this way.
Porridge made with Water
Vegan porridge is usually made with either water or plant-based milk, so which should you choose and why?
Water is often the preferred choice for those looking to benefit from its dietary and health advantages. Porridge made with water has a lighter taste and is less creamy than when cooked with plant-based milk, as well as providing a lower calorie content and no added sugars.
And, if you’re a vegan on a budget looking for a cheap way to add good nutrition to your diet, look no further than oats and water. This simple meal is easy to prepare – the perfect way to keep costs down without compromising your health goals.
However, if you do decide to use plant-based milk instead of water for your porridge, you will get the extra nutrition such as calcium and protein that plant-based milk contains. (2) They make a great combination with porridge when you need a creamier consistency or an extra flavour punch.
Calories in Porridge Made With Water
One of the the main differences between porridge made with water versus plant-based milk is the calorie content; porridge made with water has significantly fewer calories than porridge made with plant-based milk.
The calorie content of porridge with water will of course depend on the size of your serving. Typically, a 40g serving or half cup of plain oatmeal cooked with 300ml of water contains around 150 calories, while a serving of oatmeal cooked with the same amount of almond milk contains around 190 calories. (3,4)
Non-vegan Ingredients Added To Porridge
Although pure porridge oats are vegan, not all porridge or oatmeal dishes are vegan. This is because many manufacturers and restaurants add non-vegan ingredients to their porridge in order to improve the texture, flavor, and shelf life of the oats. This is particularly common with instant oats.
We all know egg, butter, and milk are common non-vegan ingredients. However, less obvious animal by-product ingredients like honey, vitamin D3, natural flavorings, and sugar can cause issues for vegans. There are also plant-based ingredients like palm oil and corn syrup which are technically vegan but have an impact on biodiversity and wildlife.
That said, if you are the type of vegan purely focusing on your health and dietary needs and less concerned about animal exploitation, you might find it acceptable to consume porridge and oatmeal cereals with minute traces of animal ingredients in them. However, if you are an ethical vegan you will disagree on the basis that any amount of animal derivative stems from animal exploitation and actively avoid these ingredients.
Fortified oatmeal cereals with Vitamin D3 such as Quaker Instant Oatmeal Dinosaur Eggs are a problem. Vitamin D3 is typically derived from sheep’s wool via lanolin and although some brands may use plant-derived Vitamin D2 it’s not always obvious and you may want to contact the brand. An example of an oatmeal cereals that uses plant-derived vitamin D is Ready Brek. That said, most brands use vitamin D3. (5)
Sugar is usually produced from sugar cane, sugar beets, or coconuts. Healthy vegans can rest assured that all of these ingredients are natural and vegan-friendly, as long as the sugar levels remain moderate.
However, it’s during the refining process that sugar becomes a non-vegan ingredient.
Sugar cane may be processed using bone char, which is made from animal bones heated at high temperatures. Bone char is widely used commercially to filter and whiten sugar. Generally, you are unlikely to notice a reference to bone char in the ingredients lists. Many brands simply refer to it as natural carbon if mentioned at all.
Bone char filters are common in the US sugar industry, which has implications for vegan breakfast cereals. Brands in the UK and EU don’t use bone char as a decolorizing filter, and Australia and New Zealand have outright banned it.
If you are buying an oatmeal cereal manufactured in the US with added sugar, unless the sugar is organic, it’s likely that bone char filters have been used. However, the amount present in the cereal will be minute and as mentioned previously, many vegans do consider it acceptable to consume these products with minute traces of animal derivatives. (6)
You might be surprised how many instant oatmeal cereals and porridge contain some form of dairy, such as casein, nonfat milk powder, or whey protein isolates. These products can be found in a wide range of breakfast foods, including McDonald’s Oatmeal, Quaker Oat So Simple porridge pots and granola bars.
Honey is a popular sweetener used in oatmeal and porridge. Because it requires insects to produce it, strict vegans consider it off-limits. However, many vegans do consider it acceptable to consume products with a minute trace amount of honey. (7)
While some oatmeal cereals may use honey as a sweetener, others may use maple syrup or agave nectar instead. These are all vegan-friendly alternatives and can be added to your vegan porridge for extra sweetness.
Natural flavors are a common food additive in many of the Quaker Instant Oatmeal cereals, but vegans may be confused by the FDA definition because it includes both plant- and animal-based components. As a result, many vegans choose to avoid products with natural flavors to avoid accidentally eating something that contains animal ingredients. (8)
Brands of Porridge Oats & Oatmeal- Vegan and Non Vegan
Not all brands of porridge are vegan particularly ready made porridge and instant oat cereals.
The following table shows which brands of porridge oats and oatmeal cereals are vegan and which are not. The table also indicates which ingredients are a problem
|Porridge/Oatmeal Cereal||Brand||Is It Vegan?||Why isn’t it Vegan?|
|Cow & Gate Creamy Baby Porridge||Cow & Gate||No||Milk Powder, Whey, Vitamin D3|
|Cream Of Wheat Instant Hot Cereal||Cream of Wheat||No||Milk derivatives, Vitamin D3|
|Cream of Wheat Original Hot Cereal||Cream of Wheat||No||Vitamin D3|
|Caffe Nero Porridge||Caffe Nero||YES|
|Flahavans Irish Porridge Oats||Flahavans||YES|
|Golden Syrup Porridge||Quaker Oat So Simple||YES|
|KIND Oatmeal||KIND||No||Non-organic sugar, natural flavors|
|Kodiak Oatmeal||Kodiak||No||Milk, trace amounts of egg due to processing|
|Malt o Meal Hot Cereal||Malt o Meal||YES|
|McDonald’s Oatmeal||McDonald’s||No||Milk. Ask for it to be made without milk|
|MOMA Instant Porridge Sachets||MOMA||No||Milk|
|Quaker Old Fashioned Grits||Quaker||YES|
|Quaker Instant Grits||Quaker||YES|
|Quaker Instant Oatmeal||Quaker||YES|
|Starbucks Classic Oatmeal||Starbucks||No||Milk|
|Starbucks 5 Grain Porridge||Starbucks||YES|
Is Porridge Healthy?
YES, as an oatmeal cereal, porridge is a great healthy vegan option and meets the nutrition requirements suggested by many health organisations, including the NHS, British Heart Foundation and FDA. It is a good source of fiber, protein, and minerals such as iron and magnesium, and is linked to a number of health benefits including heart health and weight control. (9,10)
In addition, porridge oats are a good source of soluble fiber. Soluble fiber may help you control your blood sugar levels. A study found that if you eat 6 grams of soluble fiber per day, it may help lower your cholesterol and triglyceride levels. It may also limit the amount of energy you absorb from your food, making it easier to maintain a healthy weight. (11)
The British Heart Foundation also include oats as their top suggestion for a heart-healthy breakfast because of the effect of beta-glucan on lowering cholesterol. (12)
Finally, oats are high in antioxidants. A review of research found that oats are a good source of antioxidants called avenanthramides, which have been shown to have a number of health benefits. They have anti-inflammatory, anti-itching, and anti-histamine properties, and they may also be beneficial for people with high blood pressure (13).
Overall, oats are a nutritious and healthful vegan food that can provide a number of benefits. They are a good source of fiber, protein, and a range of vitamins and minerals, and they have been linked to lower cholesterol levels, improved blood sugar control, and a reduced risk of heart disease.
How Healthy Are Instant Porridge Oats
While some Instant porridge and oatmeal cereals are vegan, we’ve already talked about the need to watch out for added animal derivatives in some instant porridge and oatmeal cereals. But given the level of processing involved in the manufacture of instant porridge sachets and porridge pots – the issue of whether they are healthy is a fair question!
The nutritional content of instant porridge oats depends on the brand and variety. Some instant porridge oats may contain added sugar, artificial sweeteners, and other additives, which may affect their nutritional value.
If you want to make sure that you get the most nutritional bang for your bucks, opt for traditional porridge oats. These oats have been minimally processed, and therefore retain their natural nutritional value.
But if convenience is the key factor for you then instant porridge made from whole grains, for example, Natures Path Organic Instant Oatmeal or Moma Coconut and Chia porridge pots are great vegan options.
Can Raw Vegans Eat Oats
Yes, raw vegans can eat oats as long as they are not cooked.
However, raw vegans should be aware that many oats are processed with heat, which can destroy some of their nutrients. In addition, some raw vegans object to the use of heat in processed oats. For this reason, it is best to opt for whole oat groats whenever possible and make sure to eat a varied and balanced diet containing lots of raw fruits and vegetables.
There are several ways that raw vegans can eat oats:
Raw oats can be tenderized by soaking them in water or plant-based milks to soften them. The soaked oatmeal as a hearty porridge or added to raw fruit or vegetable smoothies for extra texture, volume and nutrition.
Crust for Raw Pies and Tarts
Unleash your inner chef and create delectable raw fruit pies and tarts with a crust base made of raw oats combined with dates, nuts, and sunflower seeds.
Oats can be transformed into a healthy and delicious non-dairy milk substitute with just water, blending, and straining.
Raw oats can be made into a vegan granola by mixing them with seeds, nuts, and dried fruit. It canbe enjoyed as an anytime snack or sprinkle over oatmeal for added flavor and crunchiness.
Vegan overnight oats are made by soaking oats in water, juice, or plant-based milks overnight in the fridge.
Benefits of Overnight Oats
Soaking oats has several potential benefits:
Soaking oats is a great way to improve their digestibility and reduce the risk of any stomach upset. This process helps to break down the tough outer layer, creating softer, more palatable grains that are easy on your digestive system.
Increased Nutrient Absorption
Soaking oats not only helps unlock essential vitamins and minerals tied up in the fibrous outer layer of the grain, but also makes these nutrients more easily absorbed by your body.
Reduced Phytic Acid
Oats, like other grains, contain an inhibitor of essential mineral absorption – phytic acid. However, soaking oats reduces the amount of this acid and increases the availability of iron and zinc for your body. (14)
By taking the time to soak the oats, you not only unlock the natural sweetness and nutty flavor of these grains but also improve their texture making them more enjoyable to eat.
For those of you with busy schedules, overnight oats offer a fantastic solution—they can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator for easy access on hectic mornings.
To make overnight oats, simply combine half a cup of oats oats to twice the amount of liquid in a bowl or jar, cover, and let soak in the fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight.
As well as traditional sweet flavors such as maple syrup, you can also try making savory oatmeal bowls with vegetables (spinach, vegan cheese and a hit of lemon juice is superb!), or switch things up with a batch of chocolate overnight oats for a treat.
High Protein Vegan Porridge
Vegans need to be especially careful about getting enough protein, since their diets can limit how much they can get from plant-based sources. This is because many plant-based foods are incomplete proteins, which means they lack all the essential amino acids that the body needs. So it’s important for vegans to include a variety of protein-rich foods in their diets and to make sure they’re getting enough protein at each meal and snack. (15)
How To Add Extra Protein to Your Porridge
Oats already contain a small amount of protein, however, to super charge the amount of protein in your porridge oats there are a number of ingredients you can add:
- Almond Milk
- Vegan protein powder
- Nuts – highest protein nuts include almonds, cashews, brazil nuts, and hazelnuts (16)
- A spoon of nut butter
- High protein seeds such as pumpkin, sunflower, flax and chia
Best Grains for High Protein Porridge
High protein vegan porridge doesn’t have to be limited to oats – there are several other grains that can offer much higher protein values. Quinoa, amaranth, and buckwheat all make delicious vegan-friendly porridges, plus they possess the added benefit of containing all 9 essential amino acids that many vegans may struggle to get from their diets. For a protein-rich start to your day, these alternative grains should definitely not be overlooked!
Unlike oats, quinoa is a complete protein and contains all nine essential amino acids. It is also higher in protein than oats. One cup of cooked quinoa provides 8 grams of protein and 5grames of fiber. (17)
Teff is a small, grain that is native to Ethiopia and is high in protein and fiber. It has a slightly sweet, nutty flavor and can be cooked in a similar way to oats to make porridge after it has been soaked. One cup of cooked teff provides 9g of protein and 7g of fiber. (18)
Amaranth is high in protein and contains all nine essential amino acids and has a similar taste to quinoa. One cup of cooked teff provides 9g of protein and 5g of fiber. It is also a great source of magnesium, phosphorous and iron. (19)
Like Amaranth and quinoa, Buckwheat contains all nine essential amino acids. Buckwheat porridge also known as Kasha is made from roasted buckwheat groats which have been soaked and simmered until soft. They have a nutty and slightly bitter taste. One cup of cooked buckwheat provides 6g of protein and 5g of fiber. (20)
Create a powerhouse breakfast with these grains that can be used individually or combined to make an incredible high protein porridge. To maximize the nutritional value, combine them with other protein-dense ingredients such as nuts and seeds, along with added protein powders for even more substance. A bowl of this power porridge will give you the energy to tackle your day!
Vegan Porridge Toppings
Vegan porridge becomes so much more delectable and nutritionally valuable when you add a bunch of vegan toppings that provide unique flavor, texture, and nourishment. To get you started, here are just some of the delicious toppings you can add:
Fresh or Dried Fruit
For a delicious and healthy start to your morning, why not add some fresh berries, slices of banana, diced apple segments, chopped dates or spoonfuls of raisins on top of your porridge oats?
Nuts and Seeds
Incorporating crunchy and nourishing ingredients such as sliced nuts (e.g. almonds, walnuts or pecans) or seeds (like chia, hemp or flax) into your porridge oats is a great way to add texture and nutritional value.
Nut or Seed Butter
Porridge oats can be ramped up in flavor and protein with just a dollop of nut butter—like peanut butter, almond butter, or sunflower seed butter.
Porridge oats can be given a delicious, tropical twist with the addition of shredded coconut – plus it comes packed with healthy fats for an added nutritional boost.
Spices and Herbs
Give your morning porridge oats a flavorful twist by adding a dash of aromatic spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, or allspice. Or add fresh herbs such as mint and basil to make your oatmeal burst with flavor.
For those with a sweet tooth, adding agave nectar, maple syrup, or brown rice syrup to your porridge oats will give you an extra kick of sweetness.
Add some zest to your morning or afternoon porridge by combining fresh or frozen berries, a scattering of chopped nuts, and a sweet drizzle of agave nectar or maple syrup for an easy yet flavorful treat.
Liven up your day with a tantalizing snack of sliced banana, topped off with a dollop of creamy peanut or almond butter and finished off with some chopped nuts for an added crunch.
For a delectable vegan treat for your porridge topping, combine shredded coconut, freshly sliced strawberries, toasted slivered almonds and pour over some agave nectar or maple syrup. Enjoy this decadent snack!
Savour the delightful combination of tender stewded apples, cinnamon spice and sweet maple syrup with this delectable porridge topper!
Revitalize your taste buds with a delightful medley of chopped banana, sliced mango, fragrant coconut flakes and the sweet aroma of agave nectar or maple syrup.
Porridge oats are a blank canvas that you can fill with all sorts of vegan toppings to create your own perfect breakfast. Get creative and try different combinations until you find the one that best suits you!
Can You Freeze Porridge?
Yes, you can freeze porridge. Porridge is a perfect candidate for freezing because it’s easy to store in single-serving portions that can be thawed quickly when you’re ready to eat. To freeze your porridge, allow the cooked dish to cool completely before spooning into individual airtight containers or resealable plastic bags. Label and date each container or bag before sticking them in the freezer for up to three months. When ready to eat, thaw the porridge in the refrigerator overnight or reheat on the stovetop with a little more plant-based milk or water until piping hot throughout.
How Long Does Porridge Last?
Porridge typically lasts one to two days in the refrigerator, depending on ingredients used. To make sure it stays fresh for longer, store your porridge in an airtight container and place it in the refrigerator as soon as possible after cooking. For best results, only reheat a single portion of porridge at a time and be sure to check that it has been cooked through thoroughly before consumption. If stored properly, frozen porridge should still be safe to eat up to three months after freezing.
Vegan porridge is a simple yet delicious dish – much more than just oats boiled with water or plant-based milk. While oats are the most popular type of grain used in porridge, they are not the only option. Rice, cornmeal and barley are also widely used in porridge recipes across the world, making it truly an international dish! Whether you like sweet or savory flavors, there’s a porridge to suit everyone’s taste. Try tossing together some cooked rice with steamed spinach, garlic and vegan cheese for a scrumptious savory porridge or add mashed banana, blueberries and almond slivers to softened oats for a hearty and healthy breakfast.
No matter what combination of grains you choose, create your own favorite mix of ingredients and unlock the full potential of this versatile vegan food!
Sources: Is Porridge Vegan
(11) Braaten JT, Wood PJ, Scott FW, Wolynetz MS, Lowe MK, Bradley-White P, Collins MW. Oat beta-glucan reduces blood cholesterol concentration in hypercholesterolemic subjects. Eur J Clin Nutr. 1994 Jul;48(7):465-74. PMID: 7956987.