Barley is one of the essential cereal grain foods that has been used for centuries. It’s so common that it can be easily found in various beverages and traditional cuisines all over the world. And of course, it’s one of the usual ingredients of bread.
For the last couple of years, it has come to the attention of people who take care of their healthy diet, as it is rich with vitamins, minerals and fiber. Belonging to the group of whole grains, barley is immensely helpful when it comes to fighting and preventing all sorts of serious medical conditions.
Benefits of barley for your well-being
Advantages of adding barley to your diet are numerous. It can positively affect your health on many levels:
1. Effects on the heart
Barley is low in cholesterol, but rich with folate, potassium, fiber and vitamin B6. This combination of characteristics decreases the risk of heart diseases. The reason behind this is that barley decreases the cholesterol level in the body, while vitamin B6 and folate prevent excessive buildup of homocysteine that damages the blood vessels.
2. Effects on the blood pressure
Even though it’s important to decrease the level of sodium intake, it’s equally important to increase the intake of potassium if you want to lower your blood pressure. It’s not only potassium in barley that leads to lower blood pressure – it’s also magnesium and calcium that do their part.
3. Effects on digestion
Dietary fiber food such as barley helps your digestive track. In other words, it can help you relieve constipation, even if it’s a chronic one. Taking barley on daily basis can lead to increased volume and frequency of your bowel movement. As barley also helps the good bacteria in your digestive tracts, it will help you maintain proper and easy digestion.
4. Effects on weight loss
People who want to lose some weight will reap benefits of eating barley, as it’s rich with fiber. Our digestive system can’t digest fiber, meaning you feel full without eating too much. Barley also makes you feel full for a long time, meaning you will be eating less frequently.
Nutritive value of barley and its intake
Barley most commonly comes in two forms – hulled and pearled, although another two types are possible: barley flakes and barley grits.
Hulled barley only has the inedible outer shell removed. It’s harder to chew it and you need more time to cook it. Pearl barley doesn’t have the layer of bran, as it’s also been removed, so it’s faster to cook but is lower in nutrients than hulled barley.
Regarding barley flakes, they are sliced and reminding of rolled oats. they are also lower in nutrients and simple to cook. However, barley grits’ nutritive level depends on which barley was used (hulled or pearled). Depending on the type of barley, you’ll notice that barley prices slightly differ but you only have to make your decision based on how much time you want to spend on cooking and how many nutrients you want to get from it.
To get the idea of the number of nutrients you get in one cup of hulled barley, let’s say that that cup contains 184 grams. This amount contains 652 calories, out of which is 22.96 g of protein, 135 g of carbohydrate, 31.8 g of dietary fibre and only 4.23 g of fat. Minerals and vitamins like calcium, iron, vitamin B6 and magnesium are present in milligrams and make a significant part of your daily needs for them.
In order to properly cook barley, you should rinse the grains under cold water. The ratio of barley to water should be 1:3, meaning if you use 1 cup of barley, you also need 3 cups of water. If you opt for pearled barley, it will take you about one hour to prepare it, while 1.5 hours is the amount of time you’ll need to prepare hulled barley.
Barley can be added to many types of food, so here’s how you can use it:
– combine barley with vegetables such as carrots, green pepper, onion or celery, then add broth and let it boil. Next, bake it for some 45 minutes to make the casserole.
– add barley to stew or soup of your choice – it will add flavour.
– make a salad from a couple of vegetables and barley cooked in a broth.
– eat barley as a side dish instead of rice
– drink barley water.
All in all
Including barley in your everyday diet will bring you many health benefits. It’s a simple type of food to prepare but also very easy to combine with other types of, food, which is why you shouldn’t hesitate to add it to your weekly menu.