Barley is part of the grass family and it is one of the primary cereal grains cultivated in temperate climates in various parts of the world. In terms of appearance, it looks like wheat berries, but it is mildly lighter in color. Its consistency is comparable to pasta and it has a chewy, nut-like flavor. As a food, it is also packed with various health benefits.

General Nutrients

Barley is rich in vitamins and minerals. According to World’s Healthiest Foods, it contains B vitamins B1 and B3. Both are essential to the function of the nervous system, which includes learning, cognition, and memory. Also, it has minerals like magnesium, phosphorus, chromium, copper, manganese, molbydenum, and selenium. Magnesium is vital to neuromuscular balance while phosphorus helps maintain strong bones and teeth. Chromium is responsible for fat, carbohydrate, and insulin metabolism, along with the activation of cholesterol and fatty acid synthesis. Copper and manganese also important in the growth and development of various organs, with latter also playing a role in calcium absorption, blood glucose regulation, and metabolism. Molybdenum acts as a co-factor to various enzymes in the body, which serve as catalyst to different body processes while selenium generates special proteins called antioxidant enzymes, which help prevent cellular damage.

Anti-Hypertensive and Anti-Heart Disease

Barley helps promote cardiac health through blood pressure regulation. According to Medical News Today, barley’s potassium, along with calcium and magnesium, helps decrease blood pressure naturally. As per the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, as cited by the publication, less than two percent of American adults meet the daily recommended intake of 4,700 milligrams. It is added that a 2006 study published in the Journal of the American Diabetic Association found that consumption of whole grain foods, whether rich in soluble or insoluble fiber, can decrease blood pressure and may help manage weight. Overall, prevention of hypertension helps decrease the risk of development of cardiac diseases like heart failure.

Anti-Diabetes and Anti-Asthma.

Barley also helps manage and/or prevent diabetes and asthma. Along with blood sugar regulation done by manganese, barley also contains beta-glucan soluble fiber, which delays glucose absorption, according to Organic Facts. According to “Nutrition Research” Dec. 2006 edition, as cited by the publication, insulin-resistant men who consumed barley beta-glucan soluble fiber had considerably lower glucose levels than those who did not. It is added that barley has an endosperm protein 14.5 kDa, which serves as a preventive measure for major wheat-flour allergens.

Sample Recipe

Barley can be added to many dishes, such as Beef Barley Vegetable Soup. According to All Recipes, the ingredients include half cup barley, one three-pound beef chuck roast, one bay leaf, two teaspoons oil, three carrots, three stalks celery, one onion, frozen mixed vegetables, four cups of water, beef bouillon cubes, a tablespoon of white sugar, ground black pepper, stewed tomatoes, salt, and pepper.

To prepare, the chuck roast is cooked in a slow cooker until it becomes tender. Usually, it is cooked for four to five hours on high heat; although it varies with different cookers. Next, the barley and bay leaf are added during the final hour of cooking. Once done, the meat is removed and copped into bite-size pieces. Then, the bay leaf is discarded while the beef, barley, and broth are set aside.

Meanwhile, oil is heated in a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Next, the celery, carrots, onion, and mixed vegetables are sautéed until they become tender. Then, water, sugar, chopped stewed pepper, water, and pepper are added, along with the beef and barley mixture. The ingredients are brought to boil, before the heat is reduced. Finally, the dish is simmered for ten to 20 minutes, before seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.

Barley showcases a lot of benefits to man’s health. Thus, including it to various menu plans helps promote health and prevent illness.

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