When you think of barley, beer and soup are probably the first things that come to mind, but there's a lot more to barley! It's a cereal grain that is incredibly versatile in how it can be used in food. Barley is quickly gaining recognition for how it can help people lose weight; with these health benefits, you can't afford to not try barley.
Barley's Effect on Cholesterol and Appetite
One of barley's main selling points is how it helps to lower cholesterol. High cholesterol is a warning sign for heart disease, a huge problem in the United States. It works similar to oat bran, since it has beta-glucan. Beta-glucan is a soluble fiber that helps lower cholesterol. Since this discovery, farmers have been working hard to create barley that is high in beta-glucan.
Barley is also full of insoluble fiber. While insoluble fiber doesn't help your cholesterol level, it is a great appetite control tool. It absorbs water and makes you feel full on less, reducing your likelihood of overeating.
What Barley Does to Your Blood Sugar
Recent studies have demonstrated that barley is good for your blood sugar. For up to 10 hours after eating it, barley can keep your blood sugar regulated. It's even more effective than whole-grain wheat. This makes it the perfect choice for a breakfast food. An additional study tested the barley's effect on blood sugar when it's used as a breakfast food. People who ate barley for breakfast experienced an even blood sugar level throughout the day; since it has a low glycemic index, it elevates your blood sugar at a more steady pace than other carbohydrates. It also keeps you feeling fuller and avoids the mid-morning energy drop that so many people experience.
How to Use Barley
Since barley is so great at helping you lose weight, start trying to work it into your diet. It can replace rice in most dishes, including soups, casseroles and side dishes. It has a mild flavor, somewhere between white rice and brown rice, so it's easy to substitute for either type of rice. Barley is very simple to prepare; add one cup of barley to three or four cups of boiling water and simmer for about an hour. You'll notice it becomes soft and fluffy as it absorbs the water. This quality makes it a great filler for soups and stews. You can either add barley as it is, or you can blend it until it's smooth and add it to broth to thicken it.
To get the most out of the barley you buy, purchase it in the least-processed form available. As barley becomes more and more processed, it begins to lose the weight loss benefits it's so popular for.
With barley in your diet, it's almost impossible to not lose weight. Switch it in for oatmeal at breakfast, use it as a side at lunch or use it in place of rice at dinner. You'll love the effect it has on your health and your weight loss.