Barley ~ Super Grains

This is a wonderfully versatile cereal grain.

With a rich nut-like flavor and an appealing chewy, pasta-like consistency.

Its' appearance resembles wheat berries, although it is lighter in color.

The sprouted type is higher in maltose.

A sugar that serves as the basis for both malt syrup sweetener.

When fermented, it's used as an ingredient in beer and other alcoholic beverages.

Health Benefits:

When the weather's cold, a big pot of soup simmering on the stove warms the heart as well as the hearth.

Adding some whole grain barley to the pot will improve your health.

Along with the flavor of whatever soup or stew you're cooking.

Besides its robust flavor.

This super grains' claim to nutritional fame is based on its being a very good source of fiber and selenium.

And a good source of phosphorus, copper and manganese.

Fiber for Regularity, Lower Cholesterol & Intestinal Protection:

Wish you were more regular?

Let this super grain give your intestinal health a boost.

In addition to providing bulk.

And decreasing the transit time of fecal matter.

Thus decreasing the risk of colon cancer and hemorrhoids.

This dietary fiber also provides food.7

For the "friendly" bacteria in the large intestine.

When these helpful bacteria ferment.

Yhe insoluble fiber produce a short-chain fatty acid called butyric acid.

Which serves as the primary fuel for the cells of the large intestine and helps maintain a healthy colon.

These helpful bacteria also create two other short-chain fatty acids.

Propionic and acetic acid.

Which are used as fuel by the cells of the liver and muscles.

Protection Against Atherosclerosis:

Yet another reason to increase your intake.

Is that, besides its fiber, it's also a good source of niacin.

A B-vitamin that provides many protective actions against cardiovascular risk factors.

Niacin can help reduce total cholesterol and lipo-protein (a) levels.

(Lipo-protein (a) or Lp(a) is a molecule composed of protein and fat.

That is found in blood plasma.

And is very like LDL cholesterol.

But is even more dangerous.

As it has an extra molecule of adhesive protein called apolioprotein. (a), which renders Lp(a) more capable of attaching to blood vessel walls.)

Niacin may also help prevent free radicals from oxidizing LDL.

Which only becomes harmful to blood vessel walls after oxidation.

Niacin can help reduce platelet aggregation.

The clumping together of platelets that can result in the formation of blood clots.

One cup will supply you with 14.2% of the daily value for niacin.

Significant Cardiovascular Benefits for Postmenopausal Women:

Eating a serving of whole grains, such as this one.

At least 6 times each week is a good idea.

Especially for postmenopausal women with high cholesterol.

High blood pressure or other signs of cardiovascular disease (CVD).

A 3-year prospective study of over 220 postmenopausal women with CVD.

Published in the American Heart Journal.

Shows that those eating at least 6 servings of whole grains each week experienced both:

Slowed progression of atherosclerosis.

The build-up of plaque that narrows the vessels through which blood flows.

And less progression in stenosis, the narrowing of the diameter of arterial passageways.

Cereal and Fruit Fiber Protective against Postmenopausal Breast Cancer:

Results of a prospective study involving 51,823 postmenopausal women.

For an average of 8.3 years.

Showed a 34% reduction in breast cancer risk.

For those consuming the most fruit fiber compared to those consuming the least.

Also, in the subgroup of women who had ever used hormone replacement.

Those consuming the most fiber, especially cereal fiber.

Had a 50% reduction in their risk of breast cancer compared to those consuming the least.

Fruits richest in fiber include apples, dates, figs, pears and prunes.

When choosing a high fiber cereal.

Look for whole grain cereals as they supply the most bran (a mere 1/3rd cup of bran contains about 14 g. of fiber).

With its rich, nutty flavor, this super grain makes a great breakfast alternative to a bowl of hot oatmeal.

Add raisins or dried apricots to quick-cooking barley and serve it as a side dish.

Make sure it’s whole-grain, not “pearled”.

Which means the bran and germ have been removed.

A mere quarter-cup of this whole-grain delivers one-quarter of the RDI for fiber.

Whole Grains and Fish, Protective against Childhood Asthma:

Increasing consumption of whole grains and fish.

Could reduce the risk of childhood asthma by about 50%.

In children with a low intake of fish and whole-grains.

The prevalence of wheezing was almost 20%, but was only 4.2% in children with a high intake of both foods.

Low intake of fish and whole-grains.

Also correlated with a much higher incidence of current asthma (16.7%).

Compared to only a 2.8% incidence of current asthma among children with a high intake of both foods.

Promote Optimal Health with Fiber and Selenium:

For people worried about colon cancer risk.

This super grain packs a double punch.

By providing the fiber needed.

To cut the amount of time.

Cancer-causing substances spend in contact with colon cells.

Plus being a very good source of selenium.

Which has been shown to reduce the risk of colon cancer significantly.

A cup of cooked barley provides 52.0% of the daily value for selenium.

An important benefit.

Since many North Americans don't get enough selenium in their diets.

Yet this trace mineral is of fundamental importance to human health.

Selenium is an essential component of several major metabolic pathways.

Including thyroid hormone metabolism, antioxidant defense systems and immune function.

Accumulated evidence from prospective studies.

Intervention trials and studies on animal models of cancer.

Has suggested a strong inverse correlation between selenium intake and cancer incidence.

Several mechanisms have been suggested to explain the cancer-preventive activities of selenium.

Selenium has been shown to induce DNA repair and synthesis in damaged cells.

To inhibit the proliferation of cancer cells.

And to induce their apoptosis.

The self-destruct sequence the body uses to cut worn out or abnormal cells.

Also, selenium is incorporated at the active site of many proteins.

Including glutathione peroxidase, which is particularly important for cancer protection.

One of the body's most powerful antioxidant enzymes, glutathione peroxidase.

Is used in the liver to detoxify a wide range of harmful molecules.

When levels of glutathione peroxidase are too low.

These toxic molecules are not disarmed.

And wreak havoc on any cells with which they come in contact.

Damaging their cellular DNA and promoting the development of cancer cells.

Not only does selenium play a critical role in cancer prevention.

As a co-factor of glutathione peroxidase.

Selenium also works with vitamin-E.

In many other vital antioxidant systems throughout the body.

These powerful antioxidant actions make selenium helpful for the prevention.

Not only of cancer, but also of heart disease and for decreasing the symptoms of asthma and arthritis.

Phytonutrients with Health-Promoting Activity.

Equal to or Even Higher than that of Vegetables and Fruits

Lignans Protect against Cancers & Heart Disease:

One type of phytonutrient especially abundant in whole grains.

Such as this super grain.

Are plant lignans.

Which are converted by friendly flora in our intestines into mammalian lignans.

Including one called enterolactone.

That is thought to protect against breast and other hormone-dependent cancers.

As well as heart disease.

In addition to whole grains.

Nuts, seeds and berries are rich sources of plant lignans.

And vegetables, fruits, and beverages such as coffee, tea and wine also contain some.

Fiber from Whole Grains and Fruit Protective against Breast Cancer:

Pre-menopausal women eating the most fiber (>30 grams daily).

More than halved their risk of developing breast cancer.

Enjoying a 52% lower risk of breast cancer.

Compared to women whose diets supplied the least fiber (<20 grams/day).

Fiber supplied by whole-grains offered the most protection.

Pre-menopausal women eating the most whole-grain fiber (at least 13 g/day).

Had a 41% reduced risk of breast cancer, compared to those with the lowest whole-grain fiber intake (4 g. or less per day).

Fiber from fruit was also protective.

Pre-menopausal women whose diets supplied the most fiber from fruit (at least 6 g/day).

Had a 29% reduced risk of breast cancer, compared to those with the lowest fruit fiber intake (2 g. or less per day).

Practical Tip:

As the following table shows, it's surprisingly easy to enjoy a healthy way of eating.

That delivers at least 13 grams of whole grain fiber and 6 g. of fiber from fruit each day.

Food Fiber Content in Grams

Oatmeal, 1 c. 3.98

Whole wheat bread, 1 slice 2

Whole wheat spaghetti, 1 c. 6.3

Brown rice, 1 c. 3.5

Barley, 1 c. 13.6

Buckwheat, 1 c. 4.54

Rye, 1/3 c. 8.22

Corn, 1 c. 4.6

Apple, 1 med. with skin 5.0

Banana, 1 med. 4.0

Blueberries, 1 c. 3.92

Orange, 1 large 4.42

Pear, 1 large 5.02

Prunes, 1/4 c. 3.02

Strawberries, 1 c. 3.82

Raspberries, 1 c. 8.36

* NOTE; Fiber content can vary between brands.

Development & Repair of Body Tissue:

The phosphorus provided by barley plays a role in the structure of a very cell in the body.

Besides its role in forming the mineral matrix of bone.

Phosphorus is an essential component of many other life-critical compounds.

Including adenosine triphosphate or ATP.

The molecule that is the energy currency of the body.

Phosphorus is an important component of nucleic acids.

The building blocks of the genetic code.

Also, the metabolism of lipids (fats) relies on phosphorus.

And phosphorus is an essential component of lipid-containing structures.

Such as cell membranes and nervous system structures.

A cup of this super grain cooked, will give you 23.0% of the daily value for phosphorus.


This particular super grain can be found in your market in different forms:


Like the name suggests, the outermost hull of the grain is all that gets removed in this form.

While this makes for a chewier grain that requires more soaking and cooking.

It also makes for a more nutritious food.

Hulled barley is also sometimes called "de-hulled".

And it's the one form that is considered whole-grain.


Various degrees of polishing, or "pearling".

Take place in the production of this variety.

Also to a polishing off of the outermost hull, the grain's bran layer.

And even parts of its inner endosperm layer, may be removed during the pearling process.

In general, as you move from regular to medium to fine to baby pearl, you'll find an increasing loss of nutrients.

Pearl barley is much less chewy and quicker cooking than hulled.

But it's also much lower in nutrients, and is not considered whole-grain.

Pot or Scotch:

In processing, this form falls between hulled and pearl.

It's been polished to remove its outer hull.

But the polishing process is not continued for much longer.

So that a large amount of the remaining grain is intact.

While pot barley is not considered whole grain.

And lacks some of the benefits of the hulled type.

It's still a very reasonable nutritional choice.

And more nutrient dense than the pearl variety.


Flattened and sliced, barley flakes are similar in shape to rolled oats.

The flakes can are from hulled, hulless, or pearl.

And can be different in nutrient content for this reason.


Barley that has been toasted and cracked, grits are similar in appearance to bulgar.

Grits are from hulled, hulless, or pearl barley.

And can be different in nutrient content for this reason.


This super grain originated in Ethiopia and Southeast Asia.

Where it's been cultivated for more than 10,000 years.

It was used by ancient civilizations as a food for humans and animals.

As well as making alcoholic beverages.

The first known recipe for barley wine dates back to 2800 BC in Babylonia.

Since ancient times, barley water has been used for various medicinal purposes.

This whole-grain played an important role in ancient Greek culture.

As a staple bread-making grain.

As well as an important food for athletes.

Who attributed much of their strength to their barley-containing training diets.

Roman athletes continued this tradition.

Honoring this super grain for the strength that it gave them.

Gladiators were known as hordearii, which means "eaters of barley."

It was also honored in ancient China as a symbol of male virility.

Since the heads are heavy and contain many seeds.

As wheat was very expensive and not widely available in the Middle Ages.

Many Europeans at that time made bread from a combination of barley and rye.

In the 16th century, the Spanish introduced this super grain to South America.

While the English and Dutch settlers of the 17th century brought it with them to the United States.

Today, the largest commercial producers are Canada.

The United States, the Russian Federation, Germany, France and Spain.

How to Select and Store:

Barley is generally available in its pearled, hulled and flaked form.

It's available pre-packaged as well as in bulk containers.

As with any other food that you may buy in the bulk section.

Make sure that the bins are covered.

And that the store has a good product turnover to ensure its maximal freshness.

Whether purchasing in bulk or in a packaged container.

Make sure that there is no evidence of moisture.

Store in a tightly covered glass container in a cool, dry place.

It can also be stored in the refrigerator during periods of warmer weather.

Tips for Preparing:

Like all grains, before cooking, rinse thoroughly under running water.

And then remove any dirt or debris that you may find.

After rinsing, add one part barley to three and a half parts boiling water or broth.

After the liquid has returned to a boil, turn down the heat, cover and simmer.

Pearled barley should be simmered for about one hour.

While hulled should be cooked for about 90 minutes.

A Few Quick Serving Ideas:

Mix barley flour with wheat flour to make breads and muffins that have a uniquely sweet and earthy taste.

Use cracked barley or flakes to make hot cereal.

Toss chilled, cooked and hulled barley.

With chopped vegetables and dressing to make a tasty cold salad.

Add to your favorite stews and soups to give them extra heartiness and flavor.

Combine cooked barley and healthy sautéed mushrooms.

For a pilaf with an Eastern European twist.

And , if you're wondering what to have for your nex lunch or dinner;

How about...

Mushroom-Barley Soup

The Crimini mushrooms and tawny port, gives this mushroom-barley soup extra flavor.

It's a great way to enjoy the health benefits of this super grain.

Prep and Cook Time:

Prep time: 20 min; Cook time: 55 min


* 1/2 c. pearl barley

* 1 med. onion, chopped fine

* 3 med. cloves garlic, chopped

* 1 med. carrot, peeled and diced in 1/4 inch cubes

* 2-1/2 c. Crimini mushrooms, cut in half and sliced

* 1/2 c. Tawny port

* 1 Tbs. + 6 c. chicken or vegetable broth

* 1 Tbs. chopped fresh parsley

* 1 Tbs. chopped fresh thyme

* 1/2 Tbs. chopped fresh sage

* Sea salt and fresh ground, black pepper to taste


1. Rinse and soak barley in 1 cup of warm water while preparing rest of ingredients.

2. Heat 1 Tbs. broth in a medium soup pot.

Sauté onion, garlic, and carrots in broth for 5 minutes over medium heat, stirring frequently.

3. Add mushrooms and continue to sauté for another 3 minutes.

Add drained barley and Tawny Port and cook for about 2 minutes.

4. Add rest of broth, bring to a boil on high heat.

Once it comes to a boil reduce heat to medium and simmer for about 40 minutes, or until barley and carrots are tender.

5. Add the herbs, sea salt and cracked pepper at the end of cooking and serve.

Makes 4 Servings

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