The first thing that comes to mind for a lot of people with barley is the fact that it’s used as one of the main ingredients in alcoholic drinks such as beer. Barley has been used this way for hundreds of years, and is the fourth most common grain in the world behind familiar faces like corn, wheat and rice. Barley gets used in a lot of different ways outside of being made into drinks, and you might be eating more barley than you think.
Almost all parts of the world are capable of growing barley on a yearly basis, which is why it’s so common. However, there’s been a bit of a backlash against barley and similar grains because of gluten content. We’re here to tell you that there’s more good than bad when it comes to barley, and it’s not even close. To show you that barley is actually beneficial for your health, we’ll break down the nutritional value and present some of the great health benefits that you get when adding barley into your diet.
Nutrition of Barley
To get a better idea of the nutritional value that barley brings, we’ll look at a one ounce serving of hulled barley (not cooked). There’s just under 100 calories in each serving, with seven percent of your daily recommendation for protein and about 20 percent of your needed dietary fiber. Thiamin is the most abundant vitamin found in barley with 12 percent daily value, while others that come in smaller amounts around five percent include riboflavin, niacin and vitamin B6.
Minerals play a huge part in barley’s nutrition, with more than a quarter of your recommended manganese intake and 15 percent of your selenium needs. Around five to 10 percent includes important minerals such as iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc and copper, with a trace amount of calcium. Barley contains under one gram of fat per serving with almost no saturated fat at all and no amount of cholesterol, mixing in a balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
Over the past decade or so, there’s been a huge rise in the awareness of dietary fiber. It can be hard to reach the recommended amount of up to 30 grams of dietary fiber per day, but barley makes for a great way to get closer to that number. Adding more fiber to your diet helps in many different ways, starting with the ability to introduce more probiotics, which are helpful bacteria. Probiotics help get rid of harmful bacteria and other toxins to promote regularity.
Fiber also allows you to feel more full so that you don’t get cravings for other foods, which is a great tool to have if you’re trying to lose weight. Along with balancing blood sugar and preventing diseases such as colon cancer, there really isn’t a lot that fiber can’t do, and barley has plenty of it. With more than 90 percent of people not getting enough fiber in their diet, however, it seems that the awareness still needs to spread a bit more.
Good For the Heart
Another fantastic benefit that you get from adding more fiber from barley into your diet is an increased efficiency in your heart. Fiber has been shown to balance a person’s cholesterol levels, especially when consumed in a balance of insoluble and soluble fibers. Barley not only contains both of these fibers, but also doesn’t have saturated fats that will do damage to your heart.
Overall, barley can help you balance your cholesterol thanks to fiber and other important nutrients such as niacin. Niacin can remove some of the LDL (bad) cholesterol from your body while also raising the HDL (good) cholesterol levels. Researchers have studied barley’s effect on heart health, and found a balance of blood pressure and cholesterol with a reduced risk of heart disease and heart attacks.
While you might think that milk is the most important part of your breakfast when it comes to bone health, adding in barley can be just as advantageous. Barley contains a wide range of minerals that all add up to stronger bones, including phosphorus, manganese and copper. Inf act, barley has been shown to be effective in preventing osteoporosis as the extract of barley has more than 10 times the amount of calcium as milk.
When calcium is mixed with phosphorus and manganese, it has the ability to be absorbed into the bones to prevent bone loss down the road. Copper is another significant aspect of barley, which helps to reduce pains that you might get from arthritis. Arthritis and osteoporosis are the biggest limiters of mobility in elderly people, which can really reduce quality of life. Eating foods like barley at an early age can make sure that you’re up and moving no matter how old you are.
The type of fat that most people try to get rid of because it’s so visible is known as subcutaneous fat. This is the type of fat that stores along your problem areas and is easy to pinch and identify. However, there’s a different type of fat that’s actually much more dangerous for your health, and it’s known as visceral fat. This type of fat is gelatinous in form, and stores itself around your most vital organs.
Even if you have a flat stomach, you might be storing more visceral fat than someone who’s a few pounds overweight. Adding more barley to your diet can reduce this amount of fat according to studies, as researchers in Japan discovered a link that had barley burning visceral fat. This led to better heart health and even a reduction in subcutaneous fat.
It’s estimated that more than 30 million adults in the United States alone suffer from gallstones at some point, as bile is from the liver is stored in the gallbladder. The resulting gallstone can be incredibly painful and can take days for the pain to subside. Eating more barley in your diet can reduce your chances of having a gallstone as the high fiber content reduces the amount of bile and triglycerides in your body. Researchers have found that the chances are cut by more than 10 percent, with women seeing a benefit of up to a 20 percent reduction.
Summing it Up
When it comes to the side effects that you might get from barley, the most obvious one comes from its potential gluten content. Many are living a gluten free diet, especially with those that have celiac disease. Since barley does contain glutens, it could cause some unwanted side effects that include digestive pain or irregularity. Others might even be allergic to cereal grains altogether, so you’ll want to avoid barley if that’s the case.
Most people will find that barley won’t have any adverse effects, although people who are diabetic or require an upcoming surgery should speak with a doctor before eating barley. Barley has the ability to lower your blood sugar, which could complicate some medicines, especially in diabetics. Other than these specific details, barley can be enjoyed by most people as part of a well balanced diet, while bringing you some great health benefits!