Did you know that barley holds the title ‘king of cereals’? As a kid, your mom gave you barley water as a cure for all the digestive issues. I had it too. But its benefits aren’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 to use barley.
Scientific Name—Hordeum vulgare
Other Names—Jau (Hindi), Pachcha Yavulu (Telugu), Barliarisi (Tamil), Barley (Malayalam), Jave Godhi (Kannada), Jab (Bengali), Satu (Marathi) and Juvar/Cheno (Gujarati).
Before we move on to the next section, it’s important that we learn a bit about this special grain. I won’t take long, I promise. Here we go!
Barley is a member of the grass family and cereal. This whole grain resembles wheat berries but is somewhat lighter in color. A nice golden with yellow undertones. This grain is extremely versatile with its rich nut-like flavor and an appealing, chewy consistency.
Apart from being a cereal grain, barley has multiple uses in the food and wine industry. It finds its use as animal fodder while also being used as an ingredient in soups and stews. Barley grains, being rich in maltose, are made into malt and used as syrup sweeteners. On being fermented, barley is used as an ingredient in beer and certain distilled beverages. That’s not all. In addition to its culinary uses, it is a great health food packed with nutrients and antioxidants and has several medicinal properties. Interesting, isn’t it?
There are several types of barley available at your grocery stores. This seriously makes our work easier. Don’t want to sit down and separate the grass from the cereal, or spend a lot of time juicing them? Don’t worry, there is a way out. Some common forms of barley are as follows:
- Barley Grass: Basically the seedling of the barley plant is consumed in the form of tender leaves, and is rich in minerals, vitamins, antioxidants and amino acids. It is rich in chlorophyll that detoxifies your body from harmful substances.
- Hulled Barley: The covered form of barley. 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: Basically dehulled barley. 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: A good substitute for wheat flour and, sometimes, even cake flour. 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: The powdered form of barley grass. Contains 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.
Why Should You Use Barley
- Lowers Cholesterol Levels
- Aids Weight Loss
- Protection Against Cancer
- Checks Diabetes
- Beneficial For Anemia
- Aids Digestion
- Prevents Gallstones
- Improves Immunity
- Prevents Osteoporosis
- Prevents Atherosclerosis
- Protects The Body Organs
- Antidote Properties
- Healthy Bowel Functioning
- Diuretic Property
- Cools Down The Body
- Benefits During Pregnancy
Skin Benefits Of Barley
Why dream of a flawless skin when you can achieve it in real life?
Nope, I’m not kidding. Barley’s efficiency on the skin is indeed backed by its scientific and chemical properties. It is packed with vitamin C, antioxidants, and minerals. Barley has also been proven to reduce inflammation and create a barrier to protect the skin from outside pollutants. Using barley flour on the face might sound a bit tacky, but try it once. Wondering how? Here, let me guide you:
1. Helps Maintains Skin Elasticity
Ah, a great problem that comes with age!
As we cross 35, our body starts succumbing to all the signs of aging. This gifts us with sagging skin, fine lines, and dullness. Believe it or not, barley can help tackle it.
Barley contains selenium, which preserves the skin elasticity and protects it from free radical damage. By enhancing the skin elasticity, barley facilitates skin tightening, making your skin more supple and well-toned and giving it a younger appearance.
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. You can also use barley with other ingredients to make a face mask.
One of the most popular anti-aging face pack combination is that of sweet corn flour and barley with a hint of lemon juice. It truly works wonders. Try it out for yourself!
You Will Need
- 1 tablespoon barley flour
- 1 tablespoon sweet corn flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon lukewarm water
What You Need To Do
- Mix the two types of flour and add lukewarm water to it. Make a thick paste.
- Let it rest for 2 to 3 minutes. Mix the paste again using your fingertips.
- Add lemon juice to the paste and mix well.
- Apply this paste evenly on your freshly washed face and neck. Massage it gently for 2 to 3 minutes.
- Leave it on for another half an hour, till the paste completely dries up.
- Wash it off using lukewarm water. Pat dry. Apply some moisturizer.
- Repeat this process twice a week for two months, and see the results for yourself.
2. Improves Skin Tone
Why do I have an uneven skin tone? Why is my face getting darker by day? What about these tan lines, I always cover myself when out under the sun?
While common, these questions surely leave us searching for that one product. A cosmetic that can help us get back to the ‘original’ us. I did the same. My situation was even worse—thanks to all that sun and dust, I didn’t even remember my natural skin tone.
Barley flour was a suggested by an aunt of mine. She had convinced me to try a face pack with barley and milk, and as usual, I was a bit reluctant to do so. After a few months, I tried on this mask. At first, the change wasn’t that noticeable. Everything changed when I made it a part of my beauty regimen. I did it once a week for lack of time and patience, and honestly, it works!
I find myself going for this face pack again and again. Trust me, it’s that effective! Feeling out of the loop? Let me share that impressive formula, with you:
You Will Need
- 1 tablespoon barley powder
- 1 tablespoon milk
- 1 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
What You Need To Do
- Mix all the ingredients well in a small bowl and form a thick paste.
- Apply this paste evenly on your freshly washed and dried face and neck.
- Let it stay for about 15 minutes. Sit back and relax in the meantime.
- Wash it off using lukewarm water. Pat dry.
- You can repeat this process twice a week for a clean and clear skin.
3. Healing Properties
Be it a serious case of sunburn, or simple but painful kitchen cuts—barley has a solution for all.
Actually, barley greens paste should be a shelf-essential for kitchen klutz like me.
How does this grain help?
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.
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.
Remember losing chunks of hair when down with typhoid?
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. Take a look:
4. Restores Hair Colour
Losing patience due to the dull and lifeless hair? Try using barley.
You may not know this, but 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.
No more gray days!
5. Promotes Hair Growth
Wish you could super glue your hair to avoid all those breakages and hair loss? I wished that was possible too. Seeing the tangles of loose hair on comb leaves me heartbroken.
There’s a natural solution to this problem, though. A whole grain option.
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.
6. Combats Hair Loss
Did you know that anemia is one of the most common causes of hair loss? Yeah, even I wasn’t aware of this fact, before I came across one article that mentioned it. It left me puzzled. Where was the link? How were these two connected even?
After some research, I got to know that a full blown iron deficiency sends our body into a ‘survival mode.’ A mode where it derives oxygen from every nook and corner of our body, like hair follicles and nails. This way it can help our brain to function properly.
Barley contains the minerals iron and copper, which enhance the production of red blood cells, thus warding off anemia and, consequently, stimulating hair growth.
Health Benefits Of Barley
After skin and hair come the ‘health factors’ that can change the way we see barley grain.
It isn’t just a whole grain, by the way. Being a great source of nutrients, antioxidants, and minerals, barley is loaded with amazing health benefits. Many of them you wouldn’t have even thought of. Take a look:
7. Lowers Cholesterol Levels
High cholesterol is slowly becoming a big problem for today’s generation. Currently swallowing more than one-third of the adult population in the world, controlling cholesterol intake is of prime importance.
Don’t worry! There are innumerable solutions to a single problem. Just like our healthy grain—barley.
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.
8. Aids Weight Loss
Losing weight is often on our to-do list. But we, the lazy Y generation, would rather look for a viable and easy to follow solution, than going for a full-out workout and diet regime. Then comes the search for food items that can help us shed a few extra kilos. Thankfully, barley can help you!
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 weight loss.
9. 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.
10. Checks Diabetes
Eating barley is particularly beneficial for diabetic patients. Isn’t it a good news!
This grain helps stabilize the blood glucose levels. This is because the beta-glucan fiber found in this whole grain can slow down the body’s absorption of carbohydrates from foods, leading to a reduction in the glucose and insulin levels.
11. Beneficial For Anemia
As explained earlier (refer to point 6), having barley can help battle anemia.
Barley contains the mineral copper which helps in the formation of hemoglobin, needed for the production of red blood cells. Thus, it helps combat anemia.
12. Aids Digestion
Feeling bloated? Having barley water can help.
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 buildup of fat and increasing the rate of metabolism.
This is the sole reason why barley water is an essential for children.
13. Prevents Gallstones
Being rich in insoluble fiber, barley helps in reducing the secretion of bile acids. This increases the insulin sensitivity and reduces the levels of triglycerides. Hence, barley can help women avoid gallstones effectively.
14. Improves Immunity
Do you fall sick every time the weather takes a turn? It’s possible that you have a weak immunity.
Don’t worry, it can be easily corrected. Just go for a proper diet, some exercise, and barley.
Barley contains twice the amount of vitamin C than 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 makes you feel good and energetic which, in turn, benefits the nervous system and the immune system.
15. Prevents Osteoporosis
Did you know that a glass of barley juice has eleven times more calcium than milk? Barley grass contains phosphorus, manganese, and calcium which are good for the overall health of the bones. Phosphorus is effective in curing bone and tooth ailments. Manganese is needed for normal bone production and also for treating iron deficiency. And we all know calcium is beneficial.
16. 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.
17. Protects The Body Organs
Barley is truly a superhero!
It protects important organs like the heart, the pancreas, and the liver by keeping 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.
18. Antidote Properties
According to research, barley possesses antidote properties due to which it can prevent the spread of poison in the body.
Note: While doing a quick first aid at home is great, don’t forget to rush to your health care provider immediately. A snake or scorpion bite can be fatal, if not treated on time. Barley can only help slowing the spreading process of the poison. It cannot altogether remove it.
19. Healthy Bowel Functioning
Do you always complain of constipation? Barley can ease your trouble to a great extent.
It also helps in maintaining healthy bowel functions due to its rich fiber content.
20. Diuretic Property
Barley is a powerful diuretic.
Our favorite whole grain helps keep the urinary tract healthy by preventing Urinary Tract Infection (UTI).
21. Cools Down The Body
Barley water is the perfect summer drink. It is light, easily digestible and brings down the body heat. This is why it is generally given to people running high temperatures.
22. Benefits During Pregnancy
Barley water has specific benefits for pregnant women. Take a look:
- It helps prevent yeast and UTI during pregnancy.
- It helps ease 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 profile comprising 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 are 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 0mg 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 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 At Home
While barley water is readily available throughout the market space, making it at home is the best choice. This ensures retention of essential nutrients which are often lost in the manufacturing process.
Relax, there is nothing easier than making barley water! Simply follow the guidelines given below, and you will be done in a few minutes.
- Boil a handful of barley in 1.5 liters of water. You can alter the amount of water depending on how you like the taste of barley.
- Then, turn the heat to low and cook for 30 minutes.
- Let it cool 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.
Now you know why 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 benefit to health, skin, and hair.