Barley is a nutritious grain that offers a range of health benefits and is important to consume as part of a balanced diet that also includes a variety of nutrient-rich foods. Here are some of the key health benefits of including the grain in your summer diet.
The cooling properties of barley makes it the ideal grain to consume in the summer and an excellent seasonal ingredient to cook with – from salads, fried ‘rice’, soups and even as a switch to rice for one of your meals. Unlike rice or other alternate grains, barley is a versatile ingredient that is best consumed when steamed and combined with other delicious seasonal ingredients like mangoes, avocado, leafy greens as well as vegetables with a high water content.
Including a portion of barley in your everyday diet is not just a great way to cool your body internally but also ideal to reduce inflammation, stay hydrated as well as detox the liver off any unwanted impurities. That said, barley also has many other health benefits that are underrated and often overlooked. Read on to know more about this grain:
An excellent source of dietary fibre, particularly beta-glucan, barley intake is linked to improved digestion, lower cholesterol levels, better blood sugar control, and reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. The fibre in barley helps to reduce cholesterol levels by binding to bile acids and eliminating them from the body. This process promotes the synthesis of new bile acids from cholesterol, thus lowering total and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels.
Controls Blood Sugar
With its low glycaemic index, eating barley causes a slow and steady rise in blood sugar levels. Consuming the grain also helps in regulating blood glucose levels, making it beneficial for individuals with diabetes or those at risk of developing the condition. Including a portion of barley in your meal for lunch or dinner helps promote feelings of fullness and satiety, reducing overall calorie intake and aiding in weight management. Its low energy density and high nutrient content make it a valuable addition to a balanced diet.
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Barley is known to be a good source of essential nutrients, including vitamins (B, E, and K), minerals like iron, magnesium, and selenium, and antioxidants such as lignans and phenolic acids. It also contains several antioxidants, including phenolic acids, flavonoids, and tocopherols, which help protect cells from damage caused by harmful free radicals which have been associated with reducing risks of chronic diseases, including certain cancers and cardiovascular conditions.
Due to being a great source of insoluble fibre, barley adds bulk to the stool and promotes regular bowel movements, which prevents constipation, and reduce the risk of gastrointestinal conditions such as diverticular disease. The fibre also acts as a prebiotic, serving as fuel for beneficial gut bacteria – leading to improved digestion, enhanced immune function, and better overall health.