Did you know that barley holds the title of ‘king of cereals’ ?
As a kid, you might have encountered the holy barley water as a cure for all the digestive issues. I had too. But it’s usage isn’t limited to digestion. In fact, barley can be used for all your beauty and health woes, including acne, hair fall, obesity, cancer and anemia.
Still not convinced? Here, let me give you 23 reasons for using barley today!
Commonly known as ‘Jau’ (Hindi), ‘Pachcha Yavulu‘(Telugu), ‘Barliarisi‘ (Tamil), ‘Barley‘ (Malayalam), ‘Jave Godhi’ (Kannada), ‘Jab‘ (Bengali), ‘Satu’ (Marathi) and Juvar/Cheno (Gujarati). Barley is a member of the grass family and a major cereal grain. This whole grain resembles wheat berries but is somewhat lighter in color. It is extremely versatile with its rich nut-like flavor and an appealing, chewy consistency. It is used as fodder for animals as well as in soups and stews. On being fermented, barley is used as an ingredient in beer and certain distilled beverages. Barley grains, being rich in maltose, are made into malt and used as syrup sweeteners.
There are several types of barley available with the regular grocers. In addition to its culinary uses, it is a great health food packed with nutrients and antioxidants, and has several medicinal properties. Some common forms of barley are as follows.
- Barley Grass: This is basically the seedling of the barley plant that is consumed in the form of young leaves, and is rich in minerals, vitamins, antioxidants and amino acids. It is rich in chlorophyll that detoxifies your body from harmful toxins.
- Hulled Barley: This is the covered barley and is rich in healthy nutrients. It is usually eaten after removing the inedible, fibrous, outer hull. On removing the hull, it is known as dehulled barley, pot barley or scotch barley. When it is cooked, hulled barley takes a longer time to soak but is more nutritious.
- Pearl Barley:The process of removing the bran and polishing is known as pearling. This is basically dehulled barley and is one of the most common ingredients for breakfast and snack recipes all over the world. After removing the bran, it is processed into various barley products such as flour, flakes, etc., which resemble the oatmeal and grits.
- Barley Flour: It is often used as a substitute for wheat flour and, sometimes, even cake flour, and is obtained by grinding whole barley. Whole barley flour is more nutritious than pearl barley flour as it contains bran in its original form. It has a mild, nutty flavor with comparatively lower levels of calories and higher levels of fiber.
- Barley Green Powder: It is basically the powdered form of barley grass with added vitamins and minerals and is known for its medicinal benefits. It comes in various flavors and is easily soluble. It can also be consumed as barley juice.
- Barley Water: It is generally prepared with water, barley, and an assortment of freshly squeezed juices. It is beneficial for kidney and bladder ailments due to its therapeutic qualities.
Benefits Of Barley
Skin Benefits Of Barley:
When it comes to skin care, barley is extremely beneficial as it is packed with vitamin C, antioxidants, and minerals. It has been proven to reduce inflammation and create a barrier to protect the skin from outside pollutants. The benefits of barley for the skin are as follows.
1. Maintains Skin Elasticity:
Barley contains selenium, which preserves the skin elasticity and protects it against free radical damage. Selenium improves the functioning of your heart, pancreas and immune system. The deficiency of this mineral can cause skin, colon, prostate, liver, stomach and breast cancers.
2. Improves Skin Tone:
By enhancing the skin elasticity, barley facilitates skin tightening, making your skin more supple and well-toned and giving it a younger appearance.
3. Anti-Ageing Properties:
The antioxidants in barley help in decelerating the signs of aging. Barley water flushes out the toxins from the body, thus giving you a clean, wrinkle-free skin texture.
4. Healing Properties:
Barley is a rich source of zinc that speeds up the healing properties of the body. Barley greens, when taken orally or applied as a paste, can heal facial lesions within 5-6 months.
[ Read: Benefits Of Water Chestnut ]
Hair Benefits Of Barley:
Healthy hair is a part of a healthy body. The deficiency of nutrients or a prolonged illness can adversely affect your hair, leading to hair problems such as thinning, alopecia, hair loss, premature graying, dandruff, etc. Thus, the hair follicles also need nutrients to maintain their health and the growth of the hair. Barley contains all the vital nutrients, including proteins, carbohydrates, dietary fiber as well as vitamins and antioxidants, that are essential for hair health and offers the following hair care benefits.
5. Restores Hair Colour:
The consumption of green barley grass helps in restoring your hair color. Moreover, barley contains the mineral copper that is involved in the formation of melanin, a pigment which provides color to your hair.
6. Promotes Hair Growth:
Barley is rich in the micronutrients, thiamin and niacin, that help in hair growth. It also contains Procyanidin B-3, which is isolated from barley and identified as a hair growth stimulant.
7. Combats Hair Loss:
Anemia is one of the most common causes of hair loss. Barley contains the minerals iron and copper, which enhance the production of red blood cells, thus warding off anemia and, consequently, stimulating hair growth.
[ Read: Benefits Of Water Spinach ]
Health Benefits Of Barley:
Being a great source of nutrients, antioxidants and minerals, barley is loaded with amazing health benefits which are given below.
8. Lowers Cholesterol Levels:
Barley is rich in both soluble and insoluble fibers. The soluble fiber dissolves and binds with the fatty acids, thus lowering the total cholesterol levels as well as low-density lipoprotein (LDL), also known as the bad cholesterol. The insoluble fiber, on the other hand, yields propionic acid that helps in keeping the blood cholesterol levels low. Low cholesterol levels significantly reduce the risk of stroke and heart attacks.
9. Aids Weight Loss:
Consuming barley makes you feel fuller for a longer period and hence, suppresses the appetite. Moreover, the fiber in barley facilitates the removal of fat from the body. Thus, barley can aid in weight loss.
10. Protection Against Cancer:
Barley contains phytonutrients called plant lignans. One such lignan, called enterolactone, helps prevent breast cancer as well as coronary diseases. The dietary fiber provides good bacteria in the large intestines that help in the proper functioning, thus protecting against colon cancer.
11. Checks Diabetes:
Eating barley is particularly beneficial for diabetic patients as it stabilizes the blood glucose levels. This is because the beta-glucan fiber found in this whole grain has the ability to slow down the body’s absorption of carbohydrates from foods, leading to a reduction in the glucose and insulin levels.
12. Beneficial For Anemia:
Barley contains the mineral copper which helps in the formation of hemoglobin, needed for the production of red blood cells. Thus, it helps in abating anemia.
13. Aids Digestion:
Barley juice is extremely beneficial for the digestive system. It aids digestion by enabling the digestive juices to work overtime, thus reducing the bloated feeling in the stomach. It helps to shed calories by preventing the build-up of fat and increasing the rate of metabolism.
14. Prevents Gallstones:
Being rich in insoluble fiber, barley helps in reducing the secretion of bile acids, thus increasing the insulin sensitivity and reducing the levels of triglycerides. Hence, barley can help women avoid gallstones effectively.
15. Improves Immunity:
Barley contains twice the amount of vitamin C than that in oranges, which supports your immune system by reducing the chances of cold and flu. Iron enhances the blood volume, thus preventing anemia and fatigue. It facilitates proper kidney functioning and the development of the body cells. The manganese enables you to feel good and energetic which, in turn, benefits the nervous system and the immune system.
16. Prevents Osteoporosis:
Barley grass contains phosphorus and copper which are good for the overall health of the bones. Phosphorus is effective in curing bone and tooth ailments. Barley grass juice has eleven times more calcium than milk. Manganese is needed for normal bone production and also for treating iron deficiency. Thus, barley can be a natural remedy for osteoporosis.
17. Prevents Atherosclerosis:
The thickening of the artery walls due to the coagulation of fatty materials, such as cholesterol, is known as atherosclerosis. Niacin or B vitamin complex contained in this food grain reduces the overall cholesterol and lipoprotein levels, thereby lowering the cardiovascular risk factors. Barley is particularly beneficial for postmenopausal women having high blood pressure, high cholesterol or cardiovascular diseases.
18. Protects The Body Organs:
Barley protects important organs like the heart, the pancreas and the liver by keeping the dangerous diseases like heart diseases, colon and breast cancers and prostate problems at bay. The phosphorus in this grain helps in keeping the bones and teeth healthy and aids the functioning of the kidneys and the heart muscles.
19. Antidote Properties:
According to research studies, barley possesses antidote properties due to which it can prevent the spread of poison in the body.
[ Read: Salt Benefits ]
20. Healthy Bowel Functioning:
It also helps in maintaining healthy bowel functions due to its rich fiber content. This helps in preventing constipation.
21. Diuretic Property:
It is a powerful diuretic and keeps the urinary tract healthy by preventing Urinary Tract Infection (UTI).
22. Cools Down The Body:
It is the perfect summer drink as it brings down the body heat. This is why it is generally given to people with high temperatures.
23. Benefits Pregnancy:
Barley water has specific benefits for pregnant women. I have listed them here.
- It helps prevent yeast and UTI during pregnancy.
- It helps ease the common problems like morning sickness and nausea.
- It regulates the blood sugar levels and thus, helps in the prevention of gestational diabetes.
- It also prevents edema (swollen ankle and feet) by improving the circulation and preventing high BP.
- It prevents constipation and hemorrhoids.
Nutritional Value Of Barley:
Barley can be a tasty and healthy addition to your diet, thanks to its favorable nutritional profile comprising of an array of nutrients such as carbohydrates, soluble and insoluble fibers, sodium, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fatty acids, besides being cholesterol-free. Its nutritional value is explained below.
|Amount Per 100 grams 1 cup (184 g) 100 grams|
|Nutrient||Percentage of RDA|
|Calories : 354|
|Total fat 2.3 g||3%|
|Saturated fat 0.5 g||2%|
|Polyunsaturated fat 1.1 g|
|Monounsaturated fat 0.3 g|
|Cholesterol 0 mg||0%|
|Sodium 12 mg||0%|
|Potassium 452 mg||12%|
|Total Carbohydrate 73 g||24%|
|Dietary fiber 17 g||68%|
|Sugar 0.8 g|
|Protein 12 g||24%|
|*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.|
- Fiber: It is an excellent source of fiber and contains both soluble and insoluble fiber. One cup of cooked barley provides around 13.6 grams of dietary fiber, out of which 10.8 grams is insoluble or roughage, and the rest is soluble.
- Cholesterol And Fat: Like other plant foods, barley is cholesterol-free and low in fat. One cup or 200 grams of cooked barley provides around 270 calories, 59.4 grams carbohydrates, 2.2 gram fat and 0 mg cholesterol.
- Vitamins: Barley is a great source of several vitamins, particularly vitamin B1 (thiamin) and vitamin B3 (niacin). One cup of cooked barley provides around 0.16 mg of thiamin, which is 10.6 percent of the recommended daily value or DV and 2.84 mg of niacin, which is 14.2 percent of the DV. B vitamins are needed for a healthy nervous system, proper liver function, and for maintaining a healthy skin, hair and eyes. The other vitamins in barley are choline, pantothenic acid, riboflavin and vitamins A, K, B6 and B12.
- Minerals: Barley contains minerals like selenium, iron, magnesium, zinc, phosphorus and copper. One cup of cooked barley provides 230 mg of phosphorus, which is equivalent to 23 percent of the DV. This mineral is vital as it is a component of the genetic material of all cells, RNA and DNA. One cup of cooked barley contains around 36.4 mcg of selenium, which is 52 percent of the DV and 0.64 mcg of copper, which is 32 percent of the DV. Selenium, along with vitamin E, protects the cell membranes from deterioration and aids the normal thyroid function. Copper and iron play an important role in bone and cartilage development.
- Antioxidants: Barley also contains antioxidants that play an important role in maintaining good health by slowing down the rate of oxidative damage by the free radicals that are formed when the body cells use oxygen.
- Phytochemicals: Phytochemicals are natural plant-based chemicals that decrease the risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Being a plant source, barley is said to contain these phytochemicals.
- Low Glycemic Index: The glycemic index measures the extent to which 100 grams of food will raise the blood sugar in comparison to the rise in the blood glucose on ingestion of pure sugar. The glycemic index of boiled pearled barley is 35, which is the lowest among all the common cereal grains. Thus, it is considered an appropriate carbohydrate choice for diabetics or dieters who are recommended a low glycemic meal plan.
How to Prepare Barley Water:
Boil a handful of barley in 1.5 liter of water. Then, turn the heat to low and cook for 30 minutes. You can alter the amount of water depending on how you like the taste of barley. Let it cool down and drink it throughout the day. Keep in mind that it tastes really bland. So, if you can’t tolerate the taste and want to improve it, squeeze a little lemon in it or add some honey.
Hence, this fiber-rich cereal grain can form a part of balanced meals, where it can be used as a side dish or made into a breakfast cereal, to provide a filling meal with an array of health, skin and hair benefits.