Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Barley: More than John Barleycorn.

Barley is a winner when it comes to nutrition.  It is a good source of B vitamins (niacin and thiamine), selenium (a powerful antioxidant), iron, magnesium, zinc, phosphorus and copper.  While most whole grains are good sources of soluble fiber, a key to reducing blood cholesterol levels, barley is a powerhouse as soluble fiber is found throughout its entire kernel.  Barley promotes intestinal health, increases disease immunity, and promotes weight loss by reducing insulin resistance.  Hulled barley is eaten after removing the outer hull; once removed it is called dehulled barley or pot or scotch barley.  Dehulled barley is considered a whole grain.  Pearl or pearled barley is dehulled barley that has been steam processed to remove the bran.  While pearl barley is not a whole grain (it has been processed), it is still a significant source of soluble fiber (a cholesterol buster) as well as trace minerals and micronutrients.  Barley is not a gluten-free food.  While its gluten content is less than wheat, it is still unsafe for gluten intolerant individuals to consume.  Incorporating whole grains in your daily diet is an important step toward perfect health.  Barley is terrific in soups, stews, and salads.  Even barley water has been touted for its medicinal benefits.  

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