Barley (Hordeum vulgare), a member of the grass family, is a major cereal grain grown in temperate climates globally. It was one of the first cultivated grains, particularly in Eurasia as early as 10,000 years ago. This versatile grain has a somewhat chewy consistency and a slightly nutty flavor that can complement many dishes.
With 144 million tons produced in 2014, barley is the fourth most-produced grain worldwide — after corn, rice, and wheat. Barley has been linked to a decreased risk of chronic diseases and death. Hulled barley contains fiber and other plant chemicals that are beneficial for health.
Barley, oats, and some products made from them
In a 100-gram serving, cooked barley provides 123 kilocalories and is a good source (10% or more of the Daily Value, DV) of essential nutrients, including, dietary fiber, the B vitamin, niacin (14% DV), and dietary minerals including iron (10% DV) and manganese (12% DV).
Barley contains soluble fiber, which reduces hunger and enhances feelings of fullness. It may even promote weight loss.
Barley’s high fiber content helps food move through your gut and promotes a good balance of gut bacteria, both of which play important roles in digestion.
The type of insoluble fiber found in barley may prevent the formation of gallstones, helping your gallbladder function normally and reducing your risk of surgery.
The type of insoluble fiber found in barley appears to reduce cholesterol levels by preventing its formation and increasing its excretion through the feces.
Regularly adding barley to your diet may reduce risk factors for heart disease, such as high blood pressure and “bad” LDL cholesterol.
Whole-grain barley may help improve insulin production and reduce blood sugar levels, both of which may reduce the likelihood of type 2 diabetes.
Fiber and other beneficial compounds found in barley may fight off certain types of cancer, particularly those of the colon. However, more research is needed.
Whole grains, such as barley, are healthy additions to most diets. However, people with celiac disease or other intolerances to wheat should refrain from barley. Those who take blood-sugar-lowering medications should use caution.
Pearl Barley pulao is a simple, healthy, and delicious one-pot meal.
To reap the most benefits, avoid processed, pearled barley and stick to whole-grain varieties like hulled barley or barley grits, flakes, and flour.