The Nutritional Value of Barley

Barley is a cereal grain with a wide range of culinary applications. Its high maltose content makes barley an ideal base for malt beverages like beer. Barley is also polished into pearls for use as a super healthy alternative to wheat and rice. The pleasing nutty aroma and chewy texture of cooked barley make it a wonderful complement in soups and stews. Pearled barley is also processed into barley meal or flakes for use in baking and to make breakfast porridge.

Barley is considered a nutritionally dense food. It is low in calories and not nearly as starchy as wheat or rice. Barley nutrition consists of a balance of complex carbohydrates, proteins and an assortment of vitamins and minerals. Barley is especially an excellent provider of dietary fiber, B vitamins, iron, copper, manganese and selenium. High intake of these nutrients can help promote more efficient metabolism and stronger immunity against various diseases and cancers.

Advantages of High Fiber

Barley beats all other grains in fiber content. One cup of cooked barley pearls delivers 6 grams of dietary fiber. Having a high-fiber diet is one of the most efficient ways to prevent indigestion and slow moving bowels. Eating barley can offer you a quick relief for irritable bowel syndrome and constipation. Habitual intake of barley can also lower your risk of colon cancer.

A high-fiber diet is also extremely conducive to the prevention and treatment of diabetes. Studies have shown that barley is especially effective for this purpose. The high amount of indigestible carbohydrates surrounds the food particles so that the insulin response is slow and gradual. Eating whole grain barley can control your blood sugar for up to 10 hours after the meal which is much longer than either wheat or rice. Make barley a part of your regular diet and you can cut your risk of developing type II diabetes by as much as 40%.

Heart Protection

There is almost no saturated fat or cholesterol in barley to contribute to your blood fat. What’s more is that barley is highly concentrated with niacin, vitamin B6 and folate, which can help lower your total blood cholesterol. Niacin is especially valuable for those who have cholesterol troubles. Research has shown that niacin can help modify your blood profile by reducing your low density lipoproteins (LDL) and raising your high density lipoproteins (HDL). In addition, the beta-glucan in barley has also been proved to reduce both your blood and visceral fat. These qualities make barley a superfood for those with high blood cholesterol, atherosclerosis or other cardiovascular disorders.

Higher Energy Level and Better Oxygenation

Barley is a wonderful performance food for dieters and athletes. The wealth of vitamin Bs in barley can significantly increase your body’s metabolic rate and your calorie burning efficiency. Barley is also rich in iron and copper. These two minerals help you make more red blood cells, which can increase the oxygen carrying capacity of your blood. Having a bowl of pearled barley 2 hours before exercise can help extend your muscle endurance, leading to a more productive workout.

Stronger Immune System

Both selenium and manganese are highly powerful antioxidants. Selenium facilitates the detoxification of your body and protects your liver, kidneys and colon from dysfunctions and tumor growth. Manganese protects your cells and tissues from superoxide free radicals, and is highly effective against bacterial and viral infections. By having barley in your diet, you will be well supplied with both of these antioxidants, giving you much a stronger defense against diseases and cancers.


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