An extraction method for mixed-linkage β-glucan from oat and barley was developed in order to minimize the effect of extraction on the β-glucan structure. β-Glucan were characterized in terms of molecular size and molar mass distributions using asymmetric flow field-flow fractionation (AF4) coupled to multiangle light scattering (MALS), differential refractive index (dRI) and fluorescence (FL) detection. The carbohydrate composition of the extracts was analysed using polysaccharide analysis by carbohydrate gel electrophoresis (PACE) and high-performance anion-exchange chromatography (HPAEC). Whether there were any proteinaceous moieties linked to β-glucan was also examined. Purified extracts contained 65% and 53% β-glucan for oats and barley, respectively. The main impurities were degradation products of starch. The extracts contained high molecular weight β-glucan (105-108 g/mol) and large sizes (root-mean-square radii from 20 to 140 nm). No proteins covalently bound to β-glucan were detected; therefore, any suggested functionality of proteins regarding the health benefits of β-glucan can be discounted.
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