Barley is an often overlooked member of the whole grains family. This is a shame because it contains a wealth of nutrients essential to our health. Our skin, bones, muscles, digestive system and more can benefit by adding more of this whole food into our diet and the parts of the plant can be used in many ways.
Barley grass is the seedling of the plant and the young shoots are rich in amino acids, antioxidants and chlorophyll which combats harmful toxins and detoxifies the body. Hulled barley (also known as pot or scotch) is eaten after removing the inedible outer hull. In this form it takes a long time to soak prior to cooking. Pearl barley is hulled and processed, the bran is removed and polished which lessens the cooking time but strips away so much of the nutritional value that it can no longer be considered a whole grain. There are also flakes and flours made from both hulled and pearl varieties.
The phosphorus found in barley promotes good health of bones and teeth. When it comes to calcium, this whole grain has milk beat, containing 11x greater calcium content! It also contains copper which may aid in reducing symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis by helping cell regeneration. Copper also supports collagen and elastin production, making bones and joints more flexible.
Immune System Boost
It has nearly twice as much Vitamin C than oranges and helps to reduce the chances of cold and flu. It also contains a good amount of iron, helping to prevent fatigue and anemia, regulates blood volume and aids in kidney function as well.
The selenium found in barley helps preserve skin elasticity and prevent loosening. Selenium works with vitamin E in the body to protect and strengthen the cell membranes, the protective coating around cells. It also helps with healing inflammation in the skin.
Finally, it is a great source of fiber and acts as a fuel source or prebiotic for the beneficial bacteria in our large intestine and the byproduct of it fermenting in our system creates butyric acid, the primary fuel for intestinal cells. The grain helps to protect the colon and helps to prevent the development of gallstones.