Anamika S Jain is a Social Media Consultant and Blogger. She is passionate about topics like Alternative Health Therapies and Hindu Mantras.
Barley (Hordeum vulgare) is said to be the oldest of all cultivated grains and was the principal bread plant among the ancient Hebrews, Greeks, and the Romans. It is said to have originated in Ethiopia and Southeast Asia, where it has been cultivated for more than 10,000 years.
Barley is part of the grass family and is a common staple in human and animal diets. It is rich in starch and sugar and low in fat and protein. It is a very good source of both soluble and insoluble fiber and selenium. It’s also a good source of phosphorus, copper, and manganese.
This grain can be easily grown and is one of the most popular cereal crops. It is a short-season, early maturing crop. However, it is not a crop suitable for the subtropical regions. It is usually harvested in about 200 days after germination, when the shoots are less than a foot tall. In structure, the barley grain resembles wheat and oats. The grains of barley usually range from black to violet, but most of them are of a maize hue.
There are two basic types of barley, which are classified based on the number of rows of grain seen when the heads of the stalks are viewed from above. They are:
- Two-row barley
- Six-row barley
According to Islam, Prophet Muhammad is said to prescribe this grain for seven diseases. Some of the commercial producers of barley are Canada, United States, Germany, France, Spain and Russia.
Health Benefits of Barley
Barley has numerous health benefits. It is known for its ability to help alleviate diabetes, high cholesterol, and obesity. It is also effective against diseases like atherosclerosis, diabetes, insulin resistance, etc. Given below are some of the benefits.
- It is low in fat and is known to reduce craving some kinds for food. This is why it can be very useful to those who want to lose weight. It acts as an appetite suppressant, making people feel like they have eaten more than they really have.
- Barley is high is soluble fiber and can reduce blood cholesterol and blood glucose levels. It helps in reducing the cholesterol level in the body, as the dietary fiber in barley binds to bile acids and helps dispose them through the feces. Consuming barley is said to soothe and calm the bowels. Dietary fiber in the grain is helpful in making your digestive system run smoothly and maintaining a healthy colon. The friendly bacteria present in the large intestine ferment the insoluble fiber content of the barley to form butyric acid, which functions as the main fuel for intestinal cells. The insoluble fiber in barley is also said to help women fight against the formation of gallstones.
- The copper present in barley is known to be helpful in reducing the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. Copper helps in maintaining the flexibility in blood vessels, bones, and joints.
- Barley is rich in niacin, which is highly effective in reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases and blood clots.
- It is also good for persons suffering from diabetes and can take the place of normal food where rice is prohibited. Barley may be an even better breakfast choice than oats for persons with Type 2 diabetes. Consuming it is known to substantially reduce the risk of diabetes.
- Barley can prove to be extremely helpful in curing childhood asthma.
- It is easy to digest and can be given to invalids.
- Barley is diuretic, brings clear urine, and is useful in fevers. It can be used as a nutrient in cases of mucus colitis or simple diarrhea with fever.
- Barley contains selenium, which is helpful in preserving the elasticity of the skin and protects it from radical damage. It also has manganese, which works with the B complex vitamins and gives an overall feeling of wellbeing.
- Barley grass is used in traditional Chinese medicine. It's rich in vitamins A, C, B1, B2, folic acid, B12, calcium, iron, potassium, and chlorophyll. It has been prescribed to fight diseases of the spleen or poor digestion. It has also been utilized to treat conditions such as depression or emotional imbalance. Barley grass is a powerful antioxidant that is believed to help the body kill cancer cells and overcome a variety of ailments, including acne and ulcers.
Uses of Barley and Some Healthy Recipes
The primary uses of barley are as animal feed, seed, and for malt production. Apart from being the key ingredient in beer and whiskey, the uses for barley malt include extracts, syrups, and flavorings. Barley is used as a thickening and flavoring agent in soups, stews, gravy, casseroles, baby foods, baked goods, and ice cream. It can be used in recipes that need to rise by combining barley flour with wheat flour.
Given below are some healthy recipes that use barley.
Take 4 tablespoons of barley powder and make a thin paste by adding milk to it. Add 1 cup of boiled milk, 1 teaspoon butter, 2 teaspoon sugar, a fresh lemon peel for flavoring, and 2 beaten eggs. Mix all the ingredients well. Pour it in a baking dish, and bake for an hour and a half in a slow oven.
Lemon Barley Water
Soak a handful of raw barley in 4 glasses of water. Bring to boil and reduce to half. Strain and add lime juice to it. This is an extremely beneficial health drink.
Some other popular recipes using barley are tea, pilaf, and bread.
Nutritional Value Per 100 Grams (3.5 Ounces ) of Raw Barley
Thiamine (Vitamin B1)
0.2 mg (15%)
Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)
0.1 mg (7%)
Niacin (Vitamin B3)
4.6 mg (31%)
Pantothenic Acid (B5)
0.3 mg (6%)
0.3 mg (23%)
Folate (Vitamin B9)
23 μg (6%)
0.0 mg (0%)
29.0 mg (3%)
221 mg (32%)
280 mg (6%)
2.1 mg (21%)
© 2010 Anamika S Jain
Liz Rayen from California on July 24, 2012:
I love this hub Anamika. Very well written and the illustrations are beautiful. Watching the video, I could almost smell that wonderul aroma! Thumbs up and shared. I've also linked to my recent hub "Tips on Adding Whole grains to your diet" Great Job! Lisa
jen on February 28, 2012:
what an absolutely great article..i am really amazed of the benefits of barley and im really convinced to take a sip or try it..Kudos!!
Tony McGregor from South Africa on June 02, 2010:
Good information about a wonderful food. Thanks Anamika for sharing. Would love to get more recipes that use barley.
I love making barley soups, especially in winter. It's winter here now and so I have some barley soup going.
Love and peace
Rajinder Soni from New Delhi, India on June 02, 2010:
Excellent hub. Keep on doing the good work Anamikaji. Voted and bookmarked.
Home Girl on June 02, 2010:
I absolutely adore barley and mushrooms soup!
But as a separate grain meal, what they call in my old country - "kasha" I find buckweat and millet are better.
Anything whole grain is actually very good for you. You just have to cook it well to digest. Anything but oats - takes not time to cook. I never cook them, just pour hot water in the bowl, wait couple of minutes, drop of milk in - ready to go. Barley can benefit to a lot of soups. Thanks for the hub, I feel hungry already.