Do you know that barley is among the most widely consumed grains in a typical American diet?
This versatile grain has a chewy consistency, with a nutty flavor that complements many foods.
It is also a rich source of many nutrients which provide it with impressive health advantages. From an improved digestion to rapid weight loss, barley can help you with anything.
Here are some top benefits of using barley in your daily life.
It is a Rich Source of Nutrients
Barley is a good source of minerals, vitamins, and other beneficial components. It is available in different forms such as flour, flakes, and barley grits.
In all forms, you can successfully utilize the whole grain. However, for pearl barley, this may not be true. This is because this form is polished to remove some of the outer bran.
In the whole grain form, barley can be a rich source of manganese and selenium. It can also provide your body with fiber and molybdenum. Other nutrients in it include chromium, vitamin B1, copper, niacin, and phosphorus.
Additionally, barley contains lignans, certain antioxidants reducing the risk of heart diseases and cancer.
However, like all other whole grains, barley may have a few downsides. It has antinutrients which may impair the nutrient absorption and digestion in body. But you can, of course, fix this problem.
For this purpose, soak or sprout the barley grain to decrease the antinutrients. These methods can also make the nutrients present in barley more absorbable.
Sprouting and soaking can also increase the levels of vitamins, proteins, and minerals.
What’s more, you can always use the sprouted flour in baking.
It Reduces Hunger and Accelerates Weight Loss
Barley can help reduce hunger and promote the feeling of satiety. Both these processes can eventually cause weight loss.
It reduces hunger mainly through its fiber content. A soluble fiber, the beta-glucan, comes in handy in this regard.
This is because soluble fibers like beta-glucan turn into a gel-like agent inside the gut. This happens to slow the digestive processes and the absorption of nutrients. In this way, you feel a reduction in appetite and a feeling of fullness.
A review of 44 studies indicates that soluble fibers like beta-glucan can reduce appetite. In fact, such types of fiber are the most effective ones in accomplishing this.
In addition to this, soluble fiber reduces belly fat caused by metabolic diseases.
It’s Fiber Content Improve Digestive Processes
Barley is quite popular for improving your intestinal health. Once again, the credit goes to its fiber content. However, in this case, the insoluble type is more beneficial.
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Most of the fiber in barley is insoluble which means it cannot dissolve in water. Instead, it helps add bulk to your stool. Insoluble fiber also aids in intestinal movements, reducing the chances of constipation.
In a four-week study involving adult women, this wholegrain improved their bowel function. It also increased their stool volume successfully.
The soluble fiber also helps your digestive system. It is food for the friendly bacteria which, in turn, manufacture short-chain fatty acids.
Short-chain fatty acids can help feed your gut cells and reduce inflammation. They can also improve the symptoms of gut problems like ulcerative colitis.
It Reduces the Risk of Gallstones and Gallbladder Surgery
The high fiber content of barley may as well protect your gallbladder.
Gallstones refer to the solid particles that form inside your gallbladder. For those who are unaware, the gallbladder is a tiny organ just below your liver. It produces bile acids which your body utilizes for fat digestion
In most of the cases, gallstones do not manifest themselves. However, they may get stuck in the duct of your gallbladder. In such circumstances, you may feel intense pain. The pin is so severe that you may have to undergo a surgical process.
The type of insoluble fiber in it can prevent the formation of gallstones. Therefore, it may as well reduce your risk of undergoing a gallbladder surgery.
In an observational study, scientists found that barley does reduce gallbladder stones. The women consuming it had a 13% less risk of developing these stones.
It May Help Reduce Blood Cholesterol
Having a high blood cholesterol can lead to a number of diseases. Sometimes, these diseases may prove to be fatal. The beta-glucans in barley ensure to reduce cholesterol and avoid these diseases.
It accomplishes this by binding to bile acids in an attempt to reduce LDL-cholesterol.
Consequently, your liver demands more cholesterol to make the new bile acids. In this way, cholesterol leaves the blood and enters in the liver. Afterwards, it turns into new bile acids.
In one study, scientists put men with high cholesterol in a diet rich in barley. After five weeks, those consuming it experienced a 7 percent reduction in cholesterol.
In addition to this, these men also observed an increase in HDL cholesterol. At the same time, scientists also noticed a reduction in their triglyceride levels.
It May Decrease the Risk of Heart Diseases
Scientists have been constantly linking whole grains with a better heart health. Therefore, it may not be a surprise to eat barley for improving your cardiovascular health.
But how does this wolegrain work to improve the cardiovascular system>
It does so by lowering some risk factors. It can effectively reduce the levels of LDL cholesterol in your blood. Moreover, it may also bring the elevated blood pressure levels to normal.
A recent review of studies established the role of soluble fiber in controlling hypertension. It stated that using 8.7 grams of soluble fiber per day can cause a reduction in blood pressure, up to 0.3 to 1.6 mmHg. Because barley is rich in soluble fiber, it is better to use it for fighting blood pressure problems.
High blood pressure and high LDL cholesterol are the main risk factors for heart diseases. By controlling them barley can improve your cardiovascular condition.
It May Provide Protection Against Diabetes
Barley is also popular for reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes. It does so by lowering the levels of blood sugar and improving the insulin secretion.
But what is it which makes it all happen?
Certain nutrients such as magnesium are responsible. Magnesium plays a significant role in the production of insulin. It can also regulate the use of blood sugar by your own body.
Barley is also a rich source of soluble fiber. This fiber binds with water and other molecules while moving through the digestive tract. In this way, it slows down the absorption of sugar from the tract into the bloodstream.
Scientists tend to agree that a barley breakfast controls the rise in blood sugar. It accomplishes a lower maximum rise in the blood sugar and insulin levels. The effects compared to a breakfast containing other whole grains are huge.
In a study, scientists tested the participants suffering from impaired fasting glucose. They provided these participants with either oats or barley every day. after 3 months, the insulin levels and fasting blood sugar of those eating barley reduced by 9 to 13 percent.