Although barley may not be as popular as other whole grains such as oats, wheat or even grain quinoa, the benefits of barley have are really impressive for health, thanks to its high content of fiber, vitamins, minerals and Antioxidants, it has the ability to protect the heart and diabetes, but these are just some of the nutritional benefits of barley that make it one of the best whole grain options. Barley is actually one of the oldest grains consumed in the world; It was a basic grain for peasants during the Middle Ages for centuries and today it is still included in the diet of many European, African and Middle Eastern nations that have been eating barley for thousands of years.
Similarly, barley provides a variety of important vitamins and minerals: fiber, selenium, B vitamins, copper, chromium, phosphorus, magnesium, niacin and more. When compared to many other grains, even other old whole grains, barley has less fat and calories, but is higher in dietary fiber and certain minerals. For example, a serving of a cup of cooked barley contains fewer calories, but more fiber, than an equal serving of quinoa, brown rice, amaranth, sorghum, millet or wild rice.
1. High Source of Fiber:
One of the most notable health benefits of barley is its high fiber content; each serving of a cup of barley provides approximately 6 grams of fiber. Most of the fiber found in barley is the insoluble type that helps healthy digestion, glucose metabolism and heart health. The consumption of foods with high fiber content also makes you feel more complete, since the fiber expands within the digestive tract and occupies a large volume of space. This means that you feel more satisfied after a meal, can control blood sugar levels better and have fewer cravings.
2. It Can Help Improve Digestion:
Fiber also helps fight constipation and diarrhea by forming a lump inside the digestive tract, therefore, regulates bowel movements. One study looked at the effects of adding more barley to the diet of adult women and found that after 4 weeks, barley intake had beneficial effects on lipid metabolism and intestinal function. Similarly, barley fiber is also important to maintain a healthy balance of bacteria within the digestive tract. Another important and well researched benefit of barley nutrition?
“The high supply of barley fiber may even be beneficial in preventing certain types of cancer within the digestive system, including colon cancer”.
3. Help with Weight Loss:
Fiber provides volume to a healthy diet without additional calories since the body cannot digest fiber. This makes the fiber found in barley beneficial for weight loss. One study found that when adults added high amounts of barley gluten beta fiber to their diets for 6 weeks, their weight decreased significantly, as did their hunger levels. And many other studies have found that compared to more refined grain products, such as white bread, for example, the consumption of whole grains such as the benefits of barley significantly reduces hunger levels and positively impacts metabolic responses to Carbohydrates by absorbing starches at a slower rate.
4. Helps Control Blood Sugar Levels:
Barley nutrition can benefit the administration of blood sugar level, which makes it a smart grain option for people with diabetes or any form of metabolic syndrome because it helps decrease the rate at which sugar is released in the bloodstream. The benefits of barley contain 8 essential amino acids, the basic components of the protein, as well as high amounts of soluble fiber that control insulin release in response to barley sugar in the form of carbohydrates. Within the cell walls of barley there is a type of soluble fiber called beta-glucan. Beta-glucan is a viscous fiber, which means that our body cannot digest it and it moves through our digestive tract without being absorbed. In doing so, it binds with water and other molecules within the digestive tract, decreasing the absorption of glucose (sugar) from food intake. An animal study found that after rats received high levels of barley over a period of 7 weeks, the addition of barley benefits helped reduce their weight, decrease lipid accumulation (fat) and improve sensitivity to Insulin compared to rats that don’t. Because of its special fiber compounds, barley nutrition has even been found to help control blood sugar levels well than other whole grains, such as oatmeal, for example.
5. Help to Reduce High Cholesterol:
A diet rich in fiber has been correlated with a lower incidence of heart disease, partly due to its ability to help reduce high cholesterol levels; The great source of insoluble fiber in barley is primarily responsible for providing heart health benefits because it inhibits the amount of bad cholesterol that can be absorbed by the intestines. In one study, 28 men with high cholesterol levels were subjected to a diet that contained high amounts of barley, with approximately 20% of the total calories from whole grain barley. After 5 weeks, the levels of total cholesterol, “good” HDL cholesterol and triglycerides showed significant improvements. The researchers concluded that by increasing soluble fiber by eating barley, as part of a healthy diet in general, people can reduce several important cardiovascular risk factors. The fiber of barley benefits helps form a type of acid known as propionic acid that helps inhibit the enzymes involved in the production of cholesterol in the liver. The fiber found in barley also provides beta glucan, a substance that is needed to bind bile in the digestive tract to cholesterol and, therefore, to help extract it through the colon and out of the body in the stool.
6. Prevents Heart Disease:
One of the biggest advantages of barley nutrition is that eating whole grains correlates with better heart health. The benefits of barley contain certain nutrients that include vitamin B3 niacin, vitamin B1 thiamine, selenium, copper and magnesium, which are useful for lowering cholesterol, high blood pressure and other risk factors associated with heart disease. Barley nutrients are especially useful for slowing the dangerous progression of atherosclerosis, a condition in which plaque builds up inside the arteries and can cause heart disease, a heart attack or a stroke.
7. Provides Antioxidants:
Barley benefits the body in many ways because it contains antioxidant phytonutrients known as lignans. Lignans correlate with a lower incidence of cancer and heart disease because they are useful for reducing inflammation and fighting the effect that aging can have on the body. The main type of lignan found in the benefits of barley is called 7-hydroxymatairesinol. Studies have shown that this lignan can offer protection against the development of cancer and heart disease because it helps the body metabolize bacteria and maintain a healthy proportion of “good to bad” bacteria inside the intestine, reducing overall inflammation. The antioxidants found in barley help increase serum levels of enteroctones, which is a compound that is associated with the control of hormone levels and, therefore, fights hormone-related cancers, such as cancer of Prostate and breast.
8. High in Vitamins and Minerals:
Some of the nutrition highlights of the benefits of barley is that this whole grain is a good source of important nutrients that include: selenium, magnesium, copper, niacin, thiamine and many other vital nutrients as well. Barley nutrition helps many functions due to its high mineral content. Copper, for example, is important for maintaining cognitive function in old age, supporting metabolism, the nervous system and producing red blood cells. And the selenium found in barley benefits its appearance by improving the health of skin and hair and supports a healthy metabolism. Selenium also works with vitamin E to combat oxidative stress. The manganese found in barley is important for brain health and for the nervous system. A cup of cooked barley also provides 20% of your daily magnesium needs; Magnesium is necessary for numerous important enzyme relationships in the body, including the production and use of glucose; It also helps control muscle function, dilation of blood vessels and many more functions.
9. Protects Against Cancer:
It has been shown that a diet that includes whole grains protects against various forms of cancer, including breast, colon and prostate cancers. Whole grains contain compounds that have the ability to combat damage and inflammation of free radicals, including lignans, polyunsaturated fatty acids, oligosaccharides, plant sterols and saponins. These beneficial compounds have mechanical effects that include binding to harmful carcinogens and their elimination from the body. They also help improve the bowel environment and therefore increase immunity by helping with the absorption of antioxidants and nutrients. Also the antioxidants of the benefits of barley, enterolactones, protect against all types of hormone-based cancer.
Barley and Gluten:
Although barley has many health benefits, it also has some negative attributes that you should know. Like whole wheat and rye grains and seeds, barley naturally contains gluten protein. This means that barley may not be a suitable grain for those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivities. Again, these glygenic proteins can be greatly reduced by germinating this grain, fermenting or as a sourdough bread.
Barley Nutrition Facts:
About one cup of cooked castrated barley, which is roughly equivalent to 1/3 of an uncooked cup, provides:
- 217 calories
- About 1 gram of fat
- 10 grams of fiber
- 7 grams of protein
- 45 grams of carbohydrates
- 1 mg of manganese (60%)
- 23 mg of selenium (42%)
- .3 mg of copper (34%)
- .4 mg of vitamin B1 (33%)
- 162 mg phosphorus (23%)
- 80 mg of magnesium (20%)
- 8 mg of vitamin B3 (18%)
To obtain the greatest benefits of barley nutrition, it is recommended that you first soak and sprout barley grains without cooking a helmet, or you can choose to buy germinated barley flour for cooking. Sprouting whole grains helps to release its nutrients, so that the body can absorb and use the various vitamins and minerals found within the grain. This is because all whole grains contain certain antinutrients, such as phytic acid, for example, that bind to nutrients and make them very difficult to absorb. Soaked and sprouted grains, including uncooked barley, can help significantly reduce the level of antinutrients, making the grains more beneficial and also easier to digest. You can also reduce the amount of gluten present in barley to some extent. Numerous studies have found that when grains are soaked and sprouted, improvements in digestibility and nutrient absorption are observed and vitamin, mineral, protein and antioxidant levels also increase; To sprout your own barley, you can soak whole raw barley grains for 8-12 hours and then germinate them within approximately 3 days.
How to Cook Barley?
It is said that barley has a rich nutty flavor and a dense and chewy texture. If you like the taste and texture of other old whole grains such as farro, buckwheat or wheat berries, then you probably enjoy barley as well. Barley is a great addition to comfort foods such as soups and stews, as it absorbs a lot of flavor and adds a filling and chewable element to the dishes. When buying barley, you should look for husked or 100% whole grain barley, but ideally not pearl barley; Pearl barley is more processed and refined, so it lacks some of the nutritional benefits of barley described above; barley without shell (or covered barley) is eaten after removing the edible, fibrous and inedible hull from the grains. Once extracted, it is called “husked barley,” but it still retains its bran and germ, which is where you can find many of the nutrients and benefits of barley.
Before cooking raw barley, rinse the beans thoroughly with running water. Be sure to remove any hull or floating particles, as they can carry bacteria; Cook the barley using a proportion of one part of barley to three parts of boiling water or broth. This means that you will add 1/3 cup of barley to 1 cup of liquid when the beans boil. Boil the beans and liquid clean and then lower the heat, allowing the barley to simmer over low heat until tender and cooked. Pearl barley usually takes about 1 hour to simmer for cooking, while the preferred type of husked barley lasts about 1½ hours.