Know Your Grains (KYG): Barley, the wonder grain.
Welcome to the KYG series and today we will talk about the blue pearl from the Near East, it is also called Barley or Jaun (in Hindi).
One of the first cultivated grains of the Fertile Crescent, barley was domesticated about 8000 BCE from its wild progenitor. Today it is the fourth most widely consumed grain in the world after wheat, rice and corn.
Barley is highest in ﬁber of all the whole grains, with common varieties clocking in at about 17% ﬁber, and some, such as the varieties having up to 30% ﬁber! For comparison, brown rice contains 3.5% ﬁber, corn about 7%, oats 10% and wheat about 12%.
But the goodness of whole grains comes from more than ﬁber. Whole grain barley is high in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals essential to health, too. In scientiﬁc studies, barley has been shown to reduce the risk of many diseases, and to provide important health beneﬁts. Barley oﬀers many of the same healthy vitamins and minerals as other whole grains, but many think its special health beneﬁts stem from the high levels of soluble beta-glucan ﬁber found in this grain. Some key benefits include,
- Barley, like all whole grains, reduces blood pressure
- Eating barley has been shown to lower LDL “bad” cholesterol and may help reduce the risk of heart disease
- Recent research indicates that barley’s ability to prevent gallstones and overall digestive system health
- Barley has more protein than corn, brown rice, millet, sorghum, and is higher in ﬁber and lower in soluble (starch) carbohydrates than almost all other whole grains
- Barley may help you feel full longer, and thereby help you control your weight.
You may be surprised to ﬁnd that it’s endlessly versatile grain and can be cooked as porridge for breakfast, baked into barley bread or grounded to into ﬂour and blended with your regular wheat atta to add that extra punch!