Barley (Latin name: Hordeum vulgare L) is a basic and versatile cereal grain that has the honor to be one of the first cultivated grains. It was eaten widely by people in Medieval Europe and is also a staple in Tibetan kitchen. As of 2007, barley has been positioned number 4 of cereal crops in the world by terms of area of cultivation (566,000 square kilometers or 219,000 square miles) and quantity produced (136 million tons), making it one of the most popular grains ever to be eaten on the planet, yet not that many people are aware of its nutritional value and potential medicinal properties.
So should you happen to be a barley admirer and would like to include the super-grain in your healthy diet, you can freely trust the quality of these organic pearled barley grains by Arrowhead Mills that had their hard outer layer removed for easier consumption.
The whole grain is used for the making of all kinds of beer, whiskey, as well as non-alcoholic beverages, such as barley water, barley tea and coffee of barley (a type of coffee replacement). Mix barley flour with wheat flour to prepare muffins and breads with splendid earthy taste. Make a hot cereal with barley flakes or cracked barley. Add extra flavor and heartiness to stews and soups with it or combine cooked barley and healthy sautéed mushrooms for a pilaf with an Eastern European twist. Mix cooked barley with chopped veggies and dressing to create a fresh healthy salad.
How does pearled barley look like
Picture credit: seriouseats.com
Nutrition facts about raw barley
Raw pearled barley is a great addition to a low-fat diet because it’s naturally low in fat (2g of fat per 200g of grains), as more than half of it is unsaturated fat. Essential fatty acids are part of barley’s chemical structure too, because there are 110mg Omega-3 fat and 1010mg Omega-6 beneficial fat. Furthermore, there’s no cholesterol found present in the grains. The nutrient density of barley is complemented by the fact it’s richin in protein and dietary fiber, as 200g barley contains around 20g plant based protein and 31g fiber.
The same serving contains B group vitamins, as well as vitamin K and vitamin A, and here are some more detailed stats about each vitamin’s amount: vitamin A: 44 IU, vitamin K: 4.4mcg, thiamin: 0.4mg, riboflavin: 0.2mg, niacin: 9.2mg, vitamin B6: 0.5mg, folate: 46.0mcg, pantothenic acid: 0.6mg, choline: 75.6mg. Moving on to the minerals that are part of barley’s beneficial nutrients. The serving of 200g barley contains 5mg iron, 58mg calcium, 158mg magnesium, 442mg phosphorous, 560mg potassium, 18mg sodium, 4.3mg zinc, 0.8mg copper, 2.6mg manganese, 75.4mcg selenium.
Health benefits of organic barley
Barley lowers the glucose levels.
Barley’s high fiber content favors the intestinal health, as well as the bad cholesterol levels by lowering them. Part of the cholesterol-decreasing properties of barley come from propionic acid, which is made by the insoluble fiber. The beta glucan found present in the wholegrain also has merits regarding this matter, as it attaches itself to bile acids, thus removing them from our system via excrement. The wholesome cereal decreases colon cancer risk and hemorrhoid risk, because it decreases the transit time of fecal matter. The fiber also provides sustenance for the friendly bacteria located in the large intestine. When the beneficial bacteria ferment the insoluble fiber, they produce short-chain fatty acids which are good for our health. The fiber in barley can also help with the rising of blood sugar levels in people with diabetes.
Increase the chance of preventing heart failure by having a whole grain breakfast like the delicious organic pearled barley. Consuming whole grain products has been shown to decrease the chance of having a heart attack and reduce the risk of high blood pressure. Harvard researchers decided to conduct an experiment and followed 21,376 participants for nearly 19.6 years of time. The results pointed out that men who often had a morning bowl of whole grain unrefined cereal, had nearly 29% lower risk of heart failure.
Postmenopausal females with high blood pressure, high cholesterol or other cardiovascular diseases will do well to eat barley (or other whole grains) at least 6 times a week. A 3 year study published in the American Heart Journal featured more than 220 postmenopausal women with a cardiovascular disease. The women experienced slow progression of stenosis, as well as slow advancing of atherosclerosis (the formation of plaque that narrows the vessels through which blood flows). Note that the women’s intake of fiber which came from fruits, refined grains and vegetables wasn’t connected to lessening the progression of CVD.
Moreover, women who consume cereal fiber on a daily basis have 50% less chance of developing a breast cancer. While women who consume fruit fiber have 34% less chance of having breast cancer. These statements were concluded by a study for an average of 8.3 years involving 51,823 postmenopausal women.
Whole grains, including barley can tremendously help lower the risk of type 2 diabetes. Barley is a rich source of the mineral magnesium that acts as a co-factor for more than 300 enzymes, counting the ones involved in the body’s use of insulin secretion and glucose. The Black Women’s Health Study that was a 8 year trial and involved 41,186 female participants. Collected data substantiated the inverse associations between magnesium, calcium and major food sources in relation to type 2 diabetes that had already been reported in predominantly white populations. Black women who often ate whole grains had 31% lower chance of developing type 2 diabetes than those eating the least of such magnesium-rich foods. Barley is even a better breakfast choice than oats for people suffering from diabetes, because it’s much more efficacious in lowering insulin and glucose responses than oat meals.
1 cup of barley contains around 14% of niacin’s daily value. Niacin (vitamin B3) aids in lowering the bad LDL cholesterol and the lipoprotein levels. The molecules of lipoprotein are composed of fat and protein that is found in the blood plasma. Lipoprotein hides even more danger than the LDL cholesterol, as it has an extra sticky protein molecule called apolioprotein that has higher capability of attaching to blood vessels’ walls. Moreover, niacin can prevent free floating radicals from oxidizing the LDL cholesterol that becomes potentially harmful after oxidation. Last, but not least, niacin has the capacity to lower platelet aggregation that is a result from bad blood clots.
Whole grains like barley, when combined with fish, might reduce the chance of childhood asthma by 50%. This was established via the International Study on Allergy and Asthma in Childhood (Tabak C, Wijga AH, Thorax).
Selenium found in pearled organic barley is a vital trace mineral which is a basic component involved in antioxidant defense mechanisms, hormone metabolism and immune functioning. Collected evidence from intervention trials and studies on animal models of cancer, hints at the inverse connection between selenium intake and cancer incidence. Furthermore, selenium implies it can stimulate synthesis in damaged cells and DNA repair, as well as to prohibit the spread of cancer cells and induce their apoptosis.