The Nutritional Benefits of Barley
Latin Name : Hordeum vulgare.
Barley is the oldest known domestically grown and a major cereal grain belonging to the grass family that is native to Western Asia and Northeast Africa. It is a summer crop and is grown both in the temperate and tropical areas of the world. Barley tolerate soil salinity better than wheat and it resembles wheat grain though it is smaller. It has been cultivated for more than 10000 years.
There are 2 types of barley :
- 2 row barley
- 6 row barley
Also being classified further into whether the spike shatters readily when mature or whether it is a non shattering type of spike.
Nutrients in Barley
- Barley is an excellent source of fiber ranging from 17-30%, the highest among all grains.
- It has high levels of antioxidants.
- Barley has excellent levels of the minerals selenium, zinc, copper, magnesium, phosphorus, iron and manganese.
- It also contains high levels of the Bcomplex vitamins and folate.
- It contains good levels of potassium.
- Sprouted barley is high in maltose.
- Barley is high in calories and 100 grams provide 15% of the daily requirement.
Nutrients In Barley
Nutritional value per 100 grams
% tage Daily Value
1,474 kJ (352 kcal)
Thiamine (vit. B1)
Riboflavin (vit. B2)
Niacin (vit. B3)
Pantothenic acid (B5)
Folate (vit. B9)
Percentages are relative to
US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database
Uses of Barley
Apart from barley being used as a grain and in health foods, it is used in the production of animal feeds and also to make alcoholic beverages like beer and wine and non alcoholic beverages like barley water and barley tea.
It was used as a standard of measurement in England several centuries back. Barley has healing properties and barley water and barley tea are 2 popular beverages in Asia that are made from it.
Barley contains gluten and is therefore unsuitable for those suffering from Celiac disease. In Islam, prophet Muhammed advocated the use of barley to treat 7 diseases.
Today 98% of the barley grown in the United States is used for malting and livestock feed production. Barley today is grown in the U.S, Canada, Germany, Spain, France and Russia among other countries.
- The fiber in barley keeps the intestine and colon healthy reducing chances of digestive issues like constipation, hemorrhoids and colon cancer.
- Barley also has plant lignans that are said to reduce risk of breast cancer as well as other hormone related cancers.
- The soluble fiber beta glucan is known to reduce glucose absorption and helps to keep both the glucose and insulin levels low thus helping to prevent diabetes.
- The high fiber, both soluble as well as insoluble lower the cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
- Barley consumption maintains bone health. The phosphorus and copper keep bones strong, ensure normal bone production and prevent risk of fractures and osteoporosis.
- Selenium content helps to maintain skin elasticity, protects against free radicals and boosts immunity. The excellent levels of this mineral also ensures reduction of risk of several cancers.
- Barley consumption aids in preventing development of gallstones.
- Barley keeps one fuller longer thereby reducing hunger pangs and aiding in weight loss. It especially targets the visceral fat and ensures a slimmer waistline.
- Niacin in barley provides protection against many factors that lead to cardiovascular disease like preventing formation of blood clots, preventing plaque deposition in the arteries and reducing cholesterol.
It reduces blood pressure, prevents oxidation of free radicals and offers protection against cardiovascular disease in those post menopausal women who consume 6 servings of whole grains like barley a week. It also reduces risk of heart failure.
- The copper levels in barley also check free radical damage and inflammation thus providing flexibility to the blood vessels, bones, and joints which is beneficial for those suffering from arthritis.
Just 1 cup of cooked barley will provide 32% of the daily requirement of copper.
Potato Barley Soup
Barley water is a traditional and popular beverage in Britain. Barley water is made by boiling a tablespoon of barley in 1 liter of water till the water reduces to half. It is this simple to make.
Barley water is a good diuretic ensuring the toxins are flushed out of the body. This makes it an excellent beverage to treat urinary tract infections. Consume barley water throughout the day in such a case. It will not only control the infection but will also reduce body heat as it is cooling.
It quenches thirst, reduces burning sensation in the stomach, thus is a good summer season drink. It cleanses the kidneys too.
To make it more palatable add lemon juice and honey or add orange juice. It also helps to reduce weight if consumed regularly. It also combats arthritic and rheumatic problems.
Roasted Barley Tea
This is a caffeine free tea that is popular in Japan, China and Korea. It can be used as a caffeine free coffee substitute too. It is called Mugicha in Japan, Damaicha or Maicha in China and Boricha in Korea. In Japan it is served chilled in summer while in Korea it is served hot in winter and cold in summer. It is very easy to make at home.
To make roasted barley tea at home:
- toast some barley in a skillet over medium heat taking care to stir till it turns a rich brown color evenly for about ten minutes,
- put this roasted barley in boiling water and keep it simmering for about 20 minutes,
- remove from heat, cover, and let it steep for 5 minutes,
- strain and chill.
The information provided in this article is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult your physician, or health care provider before taking any home remedies, supplements or starting a new health regimen.
Quick Bread Recipe
Vegetable Barley Stew
Beef & Barley Soup
© 2013 Rajan Singh Jolly
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