Once staple food if Roman gladiators, today barley is primarily used for animal feed and to make malt for the brewing industry.
However, with the recent approval of health clain by the US Food and Druf Administration that barley lowers heart-disease risk, this ancient grain is getting set to make a comback into the family kitchen.
Triple Benefits of Barley
While researchers are still investigating how barley can boost intestinal health and the immune system, three key health areas already stand out:
- Lowers blood cholesterol - due to a rich content of beta-glucan, a type of water-soluble dietary fibre also found in oats;
- Regulates blood sugar - Barley is an extremely useful source of carbohydrate for people with diabetes, insulin resistance and women with PCOS, and has a low glycaemic index (GI);
- Increases satiety - the high-fibre, low-fat content creates for a chewy, satisfying texture, which helps you feel full longer and assists with weight control.
How To Use Barley
Look for barley in health food stores or in the rice and pasta aisle of the supermarket.
It comes in several main varieties: hulled (the tough outer hull is removed), pearled (hull removed and kernel polished), rolled (steam rolled and dried) and flour.
Unlike most grains where the fibre is located in the outer bran layer, the fibre in barley is found throughout the entire kernel, so even partially refined products supply a good source.
While many people think of using barley in soups and stews in winter, it lends itself to much more.
Think also salads, risottos, breads, sides, porridge and muesli with a twist. A pressure cooker significantly reduces cooking time and is a good investment for cooking wholegrains and legumes.