One of our most undervalued grains is barley. Research shows that barley regulates blood sugar, and it helps those suffering from a variety of health problems. Its health benefits are attributable to the fact it is a complete protein, as it contains each of the eight essential amino acids. Barley is also an excellent source of both soluble and insoluble fiber. You can eat barley in salads, soups, stew and even as a side dish with meat or vegetables.
The health benefits of barley include the following:
Keeps Colon and Intestine Healthy: Barley keeps your body free of toxins. Barley grass fuels the friendly bacteria of the large intestine, and the fiber in the grain keeps the digestive system moving.
Prevents Gallstones: Barley helps women avoid gallstones. The insoluble fiber in barley reduces the production of bile, reducing insulin sensitivity and lowering the level of triglycerides.
Prevents Osteoporosis: Barley grass is high in phosphorus and copper, which support bone health. Barley grass juice has eleven times more calcium than milk. Barley is also rich in manganese, which is needed for normal bone production.
Supports Immune System: Barley has twice as much vitamin C as oranges. Vitamin C strengthens the immune system, reducing the possibility of illness.
Preserves Skin Elasticity: Barley is rich in Selenium, which supports skin elasticity and protects skin against damage from free radicals.
Controls Blood Cholesterol Levels: Barley’s insoluble fiber provides propionic acid that helps keep the blood cholesterol levels low. Because it is an excellent source of both soluble and insoluble fibers, barley is also naturally low in fat with zero cholesterol.
Manages Diabetes: Barley works effectively on Type 2 diabetes, and doctors recommend it be an integral part of the daily diet of diabetic patients.
Prevents Heart Disease and Cancer: Barley contains phytonutrients which help prevent cardiovascular disease and cancers.
Protects Against Atherosclerosis: Atherosclerosis is a condition that occurs when artery walls thicken due to the coagulation of fatty materials like cholesterol. Barley contains niacin, which reduces cholesterol and lipoprotein levels, supporting heart health. Postmenopausal women with high blood pressure, high cholesterol or cardiovascular disease are encouraged to eat barley six times weekly.
Prevents Asthma: Barley is recognized as an effective preventive measure against major wheat flour allergens, which often contribute to asthma.
What Form of Barley Should You Buy?
Barley is available in several forms, and each has its own nutritional value. The highest nutritional value is found in whole grain barley.
Barley Grass: The grass is the seedling of the barley plant. The young leaves are rich in minerals, vitamins, antioxidants and amino acids. It is high in chlorophyll, which detoxifies the body, but it is relatively low in fiber.
Hulled Barley: This is also called covered barley, or dehulled barley, pot barley, scotch barley, or pearl barley. It is easily available in grocery stores.
Barley Green Powder: This is the powdered form of barley grass, and it is well known for its medicinal benefits. It can be made into barley juice.
Barley Flour: The flour is often used in place of wheat flour. The whole grain barley flour is richer in nutrients than the pearl barley flour. It has a mild, nutty flavor, and is lower in calories and higher in fiber than other flours.
Barley Water: This is effective when your kidneys need rest from excessive stress. It is often used by people with kidney and bladder ailments.