Barley (Hordeum vulgare), a member of the grass family, is a major cereal grain grown in temperate climates globally. It was one of the first cultivated grains, particularly in Eurasia as early as 10,000 years ago. Barley is primarily a cereal grain popularly known as jau in India. It is the fourth most important cereal crop after rice, wheat and maize.
Beta-glucan fibre in barley may help feed healthy gut bacteria, increasing their probiotic activity. In a four-week study in 28 healthy individuals, 60 grams of barley a day increased a beneficial type of bacteria in the gut that may help reduce inflammation and improve blood sugar balance.
When consumed as a whole grain, barley is a particularly rich source of fibre, molybdenum, manganese and selenium. It also contains good amounts of copper, vitamin B1, chromium, phosphorus, magnesium and niacin. Soaking and sprouting increase vitamin, mineral, protein and antioxidant levels. Soluble fibre reduces hunger and enhances feelings of fullness.
It may even promote weight loss. It prevents the formation of gallstones, helping the gallbladder function normally and reducing the risk of surgery. It reduces risk factors for heart disease, such as high blood pressure and “bad” LDL cholesterol. To reap the most benefits, avoid processed, pearled barley and stick to whole-grain varieties like hulled barley or barley grits, flakes and flour.