Barley may not sound like the tastiest of food staples, but its plethora of health benefits may just leave you craving the grain. In fact, barley can help with issues such as asthma, arthritis, hypertension, and heart disease. And barley is easy to incorporate into your diet: add it to your soups, stews, oatmeal, or salad.
Health Benefits of Barley
Below are some of the many ways that eating organic barley improves your health.
1. Healthy Colon and Intestines
Because it is rich in dietary fiber, barley is a friend to the good bacteria in our guts, giving it fuel for all of its necessary functions. Not only does barley help your intestinal cells do their job, but it is also effective in maintaining a healthy colon. By maintaining a healthy colon, this staple helps regulate your digestive tract and its waste removal process.
By keeping your colon healthy, barley also contributes to a reduced likelihood of colon cancer. Related, barley can deter gallstones from developing, thanks to its insoluble fiber and its role in reducing bile acid secretion. One report noted that women that consumed more fiber had a 17% lower risk of having gallstones.
2. Bone Health
Thanks to the phosphorus and copper that are found in barley grass, this grain contributes to the overall health of teeth and bones. This means that barley is especially useful for those that may suffer from or be at risk of osteoporosis. If you make a juice out of barley grass, you will have a drink that delivers more calcium than milk, over 10x as much in fact. Manganese and B vitamins in barley further contribute to maintaining the health of your bones.
3. Immune System Support
Due to the high content of vitamin C that is found in barley, this grain is especially helpful in strengthening your immune system and protecting you from many colds and flus. In fact, it contains more vitamin C than a serving of orange juice. In addition, the iron in barley also helps improve blood volume, preventing anemia and fatigue (which can make you more prone to becoming sick), and maintains healthy kidney function.
4. Skin Elasticity
Thanks to the nutrient selenium that is found in barley, this grain helps maintain the overall health and elasticity of your skin. Selenium also contributes to heart, pancreatic, and immune system health. A deficiency of selenium can lead to many health issues, while an ample amount can protect you from free radical damage.
5. Cholesterol Control
Since barley is a great source of soluble and insoluble fibers, it is able to help produce certain acids within the body that control cholesterol levels. It is also a healthy option for those watching their cholesterol because of its low-fat and cholesterol-free properties, making it a healthy and filling addition to your diet.
6. Diabetes Management
Because barley is fiber-rich and full of vitamins and minerals, this grain is able to help regulate glucose and insulin levels in the body. The fiber in barley also helps keep you feeling full for longer and reduces cravings for unhealthy sugary foods. This helps you to lose weight, further alleviating issues associated with type-2 diabetes and unhealthy weight.
7. Heart Health
There are phytonutrients found in barley which have been shown to help prevent heart disease (along with certain types of cancer). Barley can also help combat atherosclerosis by reducing cholesterol and lipoprotein levels in the blood and artery walls. This prevents cholesterol from building up on the artery walls and potentially resulting in a heart attack or stroke.
Buying and Cooking Organic Barley
When shopping, be sure to look for organic whole grain barley. Whole-grain barley provides the most nutritional value and health benefits as it incorporates the grain, leaves, and grass extract. This is also referred to as “hulled” barley, as only the outermost hull has been removed (which is necessary to make it edible).
Hulled barley can be found in most health-food stores and can replace pearled barley in almost all of your recipes (just increase the cooking time). Simply combine your desired amount of barley to the required amount of water, bring to a boil, and then simmer until tender.
Barley is easy to incorporate into many dishes and it is well worth it. You can easily make whole-grain barley a staple for many of your soup, stew, and salad recipes. Barley is a great source of protein, fiber, and various vitamins and minerals, meaning it is one whole grain that you should add to your diet (except if you have gluten allergy).
Make barley a part of your healthy, well-rounded diet, and you’ll be on your way to a healthier, happier you in no time.