Barley is a grain most popular for being an ingredient in beer. Many people also prefer having it for breakfast instead of oatmeal. Regardless of how it is enjoyed, it is a healthy staple filled with important nutrients. Cooking barley regularly prevents a host of illnesses and helps you maintain good health.
Common Uses of Barley
Although is it widely used to make alcoholic beverages, barley has other healthier uses. It is a cereal grain much like oatmeal and can be enjoyed in the same way. Cooks also add it to stews and soups for richer flavor and texture. When cooked correctly, barley can replace white rice, cous cous and other grains.
Health Benefits of Barley
The main nutrient in barley is fiber. When fiber combines with the minerals and vitamins this grain has to offer, it can have a powerful, positive effect on your health. Cooking barley the right way can help with everything from digestion to cancer prevention.
Discovered to be an excellent source of dietary fiber, barley’s effect on digestion has not gone unnoticed. Fiber plays a role in the transit of food from your intestines to the bowels. It helps break down food at a steady pace to regulate blood sugar and moves food along to prevent constipation.
In addition to normalizing digestion, it firms up stools in the colon and aids in excretion. Fiber is also promotes healthy digestive bacteria, helps destroy harmful bacteria in the tract and flushes out bile acids to lower your cholesterol.
Eating barley more often can do wonders for people with bone-related conditions. It contains more than half the manganese you need daily. Manganese builds, strengthens and supports bones and connective tissue. It can add density to weakened bones and improve the flexibility of joints.
Selenium and Copper
Adding barley to meals can improve your body’s response to sickness and disease. It is high in selenium and copper, minerals that protect cells and fight off infections. These nutrients also restore the thyroid gland associated with weight regulation and boost energy by improving iron absorption.
Chromium, Magnesium and Phosphorus
As you age, the muscular-skeletal system deteriorates. This includes bones, muscles, joints and nerves. To maintain the health of this system, you need adequate amounts of chromium, magnesium and phosphorus. Fortunately, barley is rich in all three minerals.
There are two more reasons why you should make barley your main grain: vitamin B1 and vitamin B3. B1 takes care of your nervous system and heart while B3 turns carbs and fats into much-needed energy.
Cooking barley is not that different from preparing other grains. However, its hull is much tougher and takes longer to cook. Combine one cup of barley with 2 ½ cups of water, bring to a boil and simmer until tender and fluffy. This usually takes 40 minutes to an hour.
Barley can be boiled in broth for more flavor or served with milk for breakfast. Another way of serving barley is adding it to soup or a salad. You might also enjoy barley risotto. It doesn’t matter how you eat it. The important thing is to make sure you do.