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Health benefits of barley (04.06.15)

Barley is a cereal plant that grows annually and belongs to the Gramineae (grass) family. It is one of the popular ingredients used in many breakfast foods these days. You can prepare barley water by boiling pearl barley, straining it, and then pouring the hot water over the rind. This is a popular traditional British soft drink. Some of the nutritional information and facts about barley water are as follows:

• Barley water is a good source of dietary fiber and adding it to your daily diet will help you get the recommended daily dosage of fiber.
•  It is a rich source of phosphorous that is required for cell production and repair in the body.
• It contains a good amount of copper and is therefore beneficial to people suffering from arthritis and other inflammatory diseases.
• Ancient civilizations believed that barley water was a good remedy for improving complexion and reducing the signs of aging.
• It is a rich source of vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9, and vitamin E.
•It is also a good source of minerals like selenium, calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, and zinc.
There are a number of nutritional benefits of barley water that help treat and prevent a variety of diseases and disorders.

There are so many rampant ailments in recent years, which proves even more that our regular diets lack important nutrients. One of the most important nutrients that we often tend to neglect is fiber. Barley is an excellent source of both soluble and insoluble fiber, which assures you good overall health over the long term.

Before we move on to the health benefits of barley, you will be pleased to know that you can consume barley in many kinds of preparations like salads, soups, stew, and even with chicken, mutton or in the tandoori style. Therefore, it will not add value just to your health but also to your palate.

Barley Grass is the seedling of the barley plant. This grass is usually harvested about 200 days after germination, while the shoots are not even a foot tall. People consume barley in this form because the young leaves are rich in minerals, vitamins, antioxidants and amino acids. Although barley grains have much more dietary fiber in comparison, the grass has high levels of chlorophyll that detoxifies your body from harmful toxins.

Hulled Barley is also known as covered barley and is usually eaten after removing the inedible, fibrous outer hull. Once the hull is removed, it’s known as dehulled barley, pot barley or scotch barley. Hulled barley is a great source of healthy nutrients. Hulled barley takes a long time to soak when used in regular cooking. However, the time is worth it, considering the utility of dehulled barley when you’re finished. Dehulled barley is commercially popular as pearl barley, and is a very marketable product. The process of removing the bran and polishing is known as “pearling”.

Pearl Barley is easily available in the grocery stores and probably one of the most common ingredients for breakfast and snacks recipes all over the world. These are actually hulled barley that is processed and the bran is removed. This is processed into a host of barley products like flours and flakes, which resemble oatmeal or grits.

Barley Green Powder is well known for its medicinal benefits. It is actually the powder form of barley grass, sometimes mixed with additional vitamins and minerals. Today, many companies sell barley powder that comes from pure barley grass. These grasses are found in a variety of flavors and have superior solubility. Therefore, you can also consume them as barley juice.
Barley Flour is often used alternatively as wheat flour or cake flour. The flour found from whole barley is richer in nutrition than pearl barley flour since the bran in the former form remains undamaged. This non-wheat flour is obtained from grinding whole barley. It contains some gluten and has been very popular in confectioneries that tend to experiment with alternate kinds of flours. It has a mild, nutty flavor, and this flour has comparatively lower rates of calories and higher levels of fiber.

Barley Water is effective when your kidneys need rest from excessive stress. People suffering from kidney and bladder ailments can take barley water for therapeutic uses.

Barley is widely available as a commercial product all over the world in various forms. You need to know the exact form that will cater best to your needs. The pearled, flaked and hulled forms have different utilities, so decide what you want to make before making the purchase.

Barley is found both in bulk containers and packaged form; ensure its freshness before taking it home. If you buy barley in containers, check the date and also be sure that it’s sealed properly. Even a small amount of moisture content in packaged barley can spoil the cereal, so be careful if buying it in containers. Store barley in clean, glass containers having air tight covers and place it in a cool, dry place. During the summer, it’s advisable to keep barley in the refrigerator.

Benefits of Barley:
Being a great source of nutrients, antioxidants and minerals, barley is loaded with amazing health benefits which are given below.

Lowers Cholesterol Levels:
Barley is rich in both soluble and insoluble fibers. The soluble fiber dissolves and binds with fatty acids, thus lowering total cholesterol levels as well as low-density lipoprotein (LDL), also known as bad cholesterol. The insoluble fiber, on the other hand, yields propionic acid that helps in keeping the blood cholesterol levels low. Low cholesterol levels significantly reduce the risk of stroke and heart attacks.

 Aids in Weight Loss:
Consuming barley makes you feel fuller for a longer period and hence suppresses appetite. Moreover, the fiber in barley facilitates the removal of fat substances from the body. Thus, barley can aid in weight loss.

Protection Against Cancer:
Barley contains a phytonutrient called plant lignans. One such lignan called enterolactone helps to prevent breast cancer as well as coronary diseases. The dietary fiber provides the good bacteria in the large intestines that help in proper functioning, thus protecting against colon cancer.

 Checks Diabetes:
Eating barley is particularly beneficial for diabetic patients as it stabilizes the blood glucose levels. This is because the beta-glucan fiber found in this whole grain has the ability to slow down the body’s absorption of carbohydrates from foods, leading to a reduction in glucose and insulin levels.

Beneficial in Anemia:
Barley contains the mineral copper which helps in the formation of hemoglobin needed for the production of red blood cells. Thus, it helps in abating anemia.

 Aids in Digestion:
Barley juice is extremely beneficial for the digestive system. It aids in digestion by enabling the digestive juices to work overtime, thus reducing the bloated feeling in the stomach. It helps to shed calories by preventing the build-up of fat and increasing the rate of metabolism.

Prevents Gallstones:
Being rich in insoluble fiber, barley helps in reducing bile acids secretion, thus increasing insulin sensitivity and reducing the levels of triglycerides. Hence, barley can help women to avoid gallstones effectively.

 Improves Immunity:
Barley contains twice the amount of vitamin C than that in oranges which supports your immune system by reducing the chances of cold and flu. Iron enhances the blood volume, thus preventing anemia and fatigue. It facilitates proper kidney functioning and development of body cells. The manganese enables you to feel good and energetic which in turn benefits the nervous system and immune system.

 Prevents Osteoporosis:
Barley grass contains phosphorus and copper which are good for the overall health of bones. Phosphorus is effective in curing bone and tooth ailments. Barley grass juice has eleven times more calcium than milk. Manganese is needed for normal bone production and also in iron deficiency. Thus, barley can be a natural remedy for osteoporosis.

 Prevents Atherosclerosis:
The thickening of artery walls due to coagulation of fatty materials such as cholesterol is known as atherosclerosis. Niacin or B vitamin complex contained in this food grain reduces the overall cholesterol and lipoprotein levels, thereby lowering the cardiovascular risk factors. Having barley is particularly beneficial for postmenopausal women having high blood pressure, high cholesterol or cardiovascular diseases.

 Protects the Body Organs:
Barley protects important organs like heart, pancreas and liver by keeping the dangerous diseases like heart diseases, colon and breast cancers and prostate problems at bay. The phosphorus in this grain helps to keep the bones and teeth healthy and aids in the functioning of kidneys and heart muscles.

 Antidote Properties:
According to the research studies, barley possesses antidote properties due to which it can prevent the spread of poison in the body.

 Healthy Bowel Functioning:
It also helps to maintain healthy bowel functions due to its rich fiber content. This helps in preventing constipation.

 Diuretic Property:
It is a powerful diuretic and keeps the urinary tract healthy by preventing Urinary Tract Infection (UTI).

Cools Down the Body:
It is the perfect summer drink as it brings down the heat content from the body. This is why it is generally given to people with high temperatures.

 Benefits Pregnancy:
Barley water has specific benefits for pregnant women. I have listed them here.
•It helps prevent yeast and UTI during pregnancy.
•It helps ease the common problems like morning sickness and nausea.
•It regulates blood sugar levels and thus helps in prevention of gestational diabetes.
•It also prevents edema (swollen ankle and feet) by improving circulation and preventing high BP.
• It prevents constipation and haemorrhoids.


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