Barley had first been grown in Ethiopia and Southeast Asia, where it was then cultivated for more than 10,000 years. In ancient civilizations, it was used as food for humans and animals, and also to make alcoholic beverages. It was in Babylonia in the 2800 BC that the first barley wine was prepared. In addition to food and alcohol, barley has also been used for medicinal purposes.
Today, the popularity of this cereal is increasing day by day because of the multiple health benefits that it offers. Read on to know more!
Barley is an amazingly multipurpose cereal grain with a loaded nutlike taste and an appealing fibrous uniformity which is primarily because of its gluten content. It looks similar to wheat berries but is slightly lighter in colour.
It had first been grown in Ethiopia and Southeast Asia, where it was then cultivated for more than 10,000 years. In ancient civilizations, Barley was used as food for humans and animals, and also to make alcoholic beverages. It used to be an important part of the diet of Greek and Roman athletes and It was in Babylonia in the 2800 BC that the first barley wine was prepared. In addition to food and alcohol, barley has also been used for medicinal purposes.
Sprouted barley has a high content of natural maltose- a sugar that serves as the source for both malt sweetener and syrup- and when fermented, it is used as an ingredient in beer and other alcoholic beverages.
The grains of barley undergo processing and there are the following 3 types at different stages of it:
- Hulled: This form of the grain can be considered as a whole grain because only the outermost hull is removed. The grains of this type stay more distinct and chewier and require longer soaking and cooking. Hulled barley is more nutritious than pearl barley.
- Pearl/processed: Pearl barley, on the other hand, is processed or polished to get rid of the bran layer and sometimes parts of endosperm too. It is less caloric than white rice but equally caloric to brown rice. It gets cooked quicker than hulled type and is not a whole grain.
- Pot/Scotch: This one is a famous ingredient in soups, hence the name Pot. This form of barley lies in between hulled and pearl barley if seen from the processing point of view. Polishing removes the outer layer c0ompletely but because it is not continued for long, a large portion of the remaining grain is left intact.
Barley is the fourth largest grain crop globally, after wheat, rice, and corn. Today, the largest commercial producers of this grain are Canada, the United States, the Russian Federation, Germany, France and Spain.
Barley is available in the market in the pearled, hulled or flaked forms either in packaged or in bulk containers. When purchasing from a bulk container, make sure that the containers are tightly closed and there is no presence of moisture.
If properly stored, barley has a shelf life of about one year. The best places to store it are cold and dry areas, away from heat and light. The grains must, therefore, be tightly wrapped and kept in the refrigerator or freezer.
Just like all other grains, properly rinse barley under running water and then remove the leftover dirt and debris by your hand.
A cup of hulled barley, weighing 184 grams (g) contains:
- 651 calories
- 22.96 g of protein
- 4.23 g of fat
- 0 g of cholesterol
- 135 g of carbohydrates
- 31.8 g of dietary fibre
- 61 milligrams (mg) of calcium
- 6.62 mg of iron
- 1.189 mg of thiamin
- 0.524 mg of riboflavin
- 8.471 mg of niacin
- 0.585 mg of vitamin B6
- 35 micrograms (mcg) of folate
- 245 mg of magnesium
- 486 mg of phosphorus
- 832 mg of potassium
- 5.1 mg of zinc
The innumerable health benefits of Barley are listed below.
- Blood Pressure:
It is essential to maintain a low sodium intake to lower blood pressure, but increasing potassium intake is also important. The presence of potassium, calcium and magnesium in Barley helps in decreasing blood pressure naturally.
- Weight management and satiety:
The fibre content in barley helps in weight management by acting as the bulking agent in the digestive system. Fiber in the diet increases satiety and reduces appetite by giving a feeling of fullness. This, in turn, reduces the overall calorie intake.
Apart from maintaining muscle movement, sleep, memory and learning, choline present in the barley seeds helps in reducing chronic inflammation. It helps in maintaining the structure of the cellular membrane, helps in the transmission of the nerve impulses and absorbs fat.
- Bone Health:
A balanced consumption of phosphate and calcium is required for bone mineralization as any kind of imbalance can cause bone loss. The iron, phosphorous, magnesium, manganese and calcium present is barley help in the building and maintaining the bone structure.
- Heart health:
Presence of fibre, potassium, folate and vitamin b6 coupled with low cholesterol in barley helps in keeping the heart healthy. Barley is rich in fibre which reduces the overall cholesterol level thus helping in maintaining a healthy heart. Vitamin b6 and folate help in reducing the formation of homocysteine. Homocysteine if present in high amount in the body can damage the heart and blood vessels.
Selenium content of barley helps in detoxifying some cancer-causing components. It may decrease the tumour growth rate and improve the immune response to the infection by generating producing killer T cells.
Its fibre content helps lower the risk of colorectal cancer.
- Digestion and regularity:
The fibre content helps in preventing constipation and causes regularity in the alimentary tract.
- Barley has gluten content which is not suitable for people suffering from celiac diseases.
- A sudden increase in barley consumption can cause digestive problems.
- It causes abdominal bloating, gas and cramping.
- A lot of exposure to barley flour can cause a severe respiratory allergy called ‘Bakers’ Asthma’ in humans. People who work in bakeries are the most prone to it.
- Overconsumption of barley will result in the decrease of your blood sugar level.
You can incorporate Barley in your diet by following these recipes.
1. Barley Risotto- https://food.ndtv.com/recipe-barley-risotto-177936
3. Mushroom Khitchda- https://food.ndtv.com/recipe-mushroom-khitchda-my-yellow-table-765210
4. Bell peppers stuffed with barley- https://food.ndtv.com/recipe-bell-peppers-stuffed-with-barley-163187
5. Barley salad- https://food.ndtv.com/recipe-barley-salad-333669