Benefits of the “versatile” Barley

Barley is considered as the first used cereal crop by many ancient religions. Initially cultivated in ancient Egypt, barley got spread to China, Japan and Northern Europe mainly by semi-nomadic hunters during 9,000 B.C. Barley has a prominent place as a nutritional foodstuff since it is rich in sugar and starch. It has low contents of fat and protein.

Except the humid sub-tropical climate, barley is tolerant to all weather conditions. Barley needs to be thoroughly processed before being used as a feed or a food. After the milling process, the cereal can be used as a rice substitute. Fermented barley is an important beer ingredient. Sprouted barley is used as malt syrup sweetener. Thus, barley truly deserves its title as “the versatile cereal grain”.

Barley not only supplements a soup with its nutritional qualities but also gives it a robust flavour. Barley is rich in fibre and selenium. It also has abundant reserves of mineral salts such as phosphorus, copper and manganese. The dietary fibre present in barley effectively decreases the risk of colon cancer and haemorrhoids. The fibre also promotes the growth of the useful bacteria present in the large intestine. Butyric acid produced as result of the fermentation of barley fibre serves as a fuel boost to intestinal cells. Other fatty acids, namely, propionic and acetic co-produced by the fermentation process serves the cells of muscles and liver. Moreover when the growth of the friendly bacteria gets encouraged, they push out pathogenic bacteria from the intestinal tract. This minimises the risk of intestinal disorders.

Beta glucan, abundantly found in barley’s dietary fibre effectively brings down cholesterol level. Cholesterol gets removed from the body through faeces after getting bound with bile acid. When bile gets excreted out, liver is forced to produce fresh bile, which will use up more cholesterol. That is how barley effectively minimises the level of cholesterol in the blood circulation.

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