Barley – Health Benefits, Nutrition

Let us go through barley health benefits, nutritional information, side effects and other facts.

Barley is a cereal grain that tastes like nut and has a pasta-like consistency. Its look resembles that of the light wheat berries.  It is used in whole grain soups, casseroles and stews, and can also be served as a side dish or as a breakfast cereal. It is also one of the ingredients of many alcoholic beverages such as beer. Barley is available in different forms and these are hulled, scotch, pearl, flakes and grits.

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The barley benefits simply abound as it goes beyond promoting a healthy digestive system. It contains essential nutrients as well as vitamins and minerals for optimum health.  These include amino acids, chlorophyll, calcium, iron and many more. However, these nutrients can only be obtained if the grains are harvested young.

History of Barley

The many barley benefits have been known even in the olden times. Barley has been cultivated for over 10,000 years in Southeast Asia and Ethiopia and has become food for both animals and humans. It is also used in preparing alcoholic beverages. Barley was the staple grain for bread for the ancient Greeks and the preferred food by Roman athletes, especially the Gladiators. In fact, this is where “gladiator” got its name, as it means “eaters of barley”. Also, China had high regard for barley, honoring it as a sign of male virility. Barley has been made into barely wine and water to treat various medical conditions.

Health Benefits of Barley

The various barley benefits are primarily attributed to its high nutritional content which comprises vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Some of the benefits people get from barley are:

  • Healthy digestive system

Barley grains contain high amounts of fiber which helps in decreasing the risk of diverticula disease and hemorrhoids. It also helps in preventing diarrhea and constipation. Barley grains contain good amounts of insoluble fiber which helps prevent gallstones.

  • Healthy heart

Barley is essential in keeping the heart healthy. Its antioxidant properties help in fighting free radicals which are responsible for cell damage. Antioxidants provide protection against the harmful effects of cell damage such as premature aging, cancer and heart disease.

  • Clean and healthy liver

Toxins gradually accumulate in the liver tissues and barley works in getting rid of the toxins that have built up to obtain a healthier metabolism and enhanced overall immunity. The fibers in barley also control the activity of the HMG-CoA reductase enzyme to maintain a healthy level of cholesterol in the blood, thus, preventing certain forms of cardiovascular diseases.

  • Improved fertility

Barley grain helps in improving fertility by providing sufficient amounts of selenium and manganese for the proper functioning of the reproductive organs.

Side Effects of Barley

Barley benefits are plentiful if consumed in adequate proportions. But there are unpleasant side effects when it is taken in large quantities, and these may include gas, abdominal bloating and cramping. Furthermore, it is unsafe for pregnant women to eat barley sprouts. Allergic reactions might likewise occur in people who are allergy to gluten, thus, avoiding barley is the best way to go.

Nutritional Facts of Barley

Here is the nutritional information of 1 cup of cooked barley.

  • Calories – 198
  • Total Fat – 0.71g
  • Total Carbohydrate – 45.51g
  • Potassium – 151mg
  • Sodium – 303mg
  • Cholesterol – 0mg
  • Dietary fiber – 6.2g
  • Protein – 3.64g
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