Compared to other whole grains, such as wheat and oats, barley isn’t that popular. But this does not mean it lacks on health benefits. In fact, it has very high fiber content, along with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and properties that can improve heart health.
Reasons to Eat Barley
Just one cup of cooked barley without the hulls or 1/3 cup of uncooked barley can provide the following nutrients:
- 10g of fiber
- 45g carbs
- 42% RDA selenium
- Seven grams of protein
- 60% RDA manganese
- 18% RDA B3
Aside from the mentioned nutrients, barley has several other benefits, especially when you eat it for breakfast, including:
1. Control Blood Sugar Levels
Barley has eight types of essential amino acids, which can benefit the blood sugar. Studies have discovered that regularly eating barley can lower instances of blood sugar spikes for up to 10 hours that is typical every time we eat food.
2. Rich in Fiber
Barley is high in dietary fiber, which is helpful in our day-to-day bowel movements. Also, eating barley for breakfast can help you avoid cravings throughout the day because it can help make you feel fuller for a longer time.
3. Lower High Cholesterol
The high amounts of fiber in barley can also lower high cholesterol levels. Cholesterol has a significant role to play in various health conditions. For instance, if you have high cholesterol, you are at risk of developing heart disease. Because of the insoluble fiber in barley, it can inhibit the bad cholesterol that comes from the food we eat and may be absorbed by the intestines.
4. Cancer-Fighting Antioxidants
Barley contains lignans, which are antioxidant phytonutrients that are correlated with lower risks of both heart disease and certain cancers. This type of antioxidants can help reduce inflammation and even promote healthy aging. The main lignan in barley is 7-hydroxymatairesinol, which can protect the body against cancers by metabolizing bacteria and maintaining a good balance between bad and good bacteria in the gut.
How to Eat Barley for Breakfast
Here are sample ways to enjoy barley for your first meal of the day:
- Make a hot cereal by using barley flakes or cracked barley.
- Use barley flour, along with wheat flour in making breads or muffins.
- You can also make lemon barley water, which you can drink for breakfast. Just simmer pearl barley, remove the grains by straining, and add sweetener and lemon.
Note though that if you have gluten allergy, you should avoid eating barley. You can, however, reduce the glutinous proteins in barley by sprouting the grain first or through fermentation.