Other Names of Barley: Jau, malt, barleycorn, barley grits, barley flakes, pearl barley, naked barley, Scotch barley, pot barley, two-row barley, six-row barley, arpa, common barley, cebada, gerst, kung mai nieh, kung mai, mai ya, ta mai, and orzo.

Useful Parts of the Plant: Kernel (grain), stem (straw), plant stalk

Barley is a plant that can grow up to 3 feet in height. It is derived from a grass that is commonly seen in temperate regions. The United States, Germany, France, Spain, Canada and the Russian Federation are extensive cultivators of barley today. This cereal has a rich, nut-like taste and a chewy, pasta-like texture. When sprouted, it gets rich in maltose that is used as a sweetener. Its property changes on being fermented, and it is then used as a component in beer and other alcoholic drinks. Barley is available as pearled barley (when the hull is removed) and malt (the sprouted type). Of late, barley is becoming a heart healthy choice at many dining tables across the globe, owing to its high fiber value and zero cholesterol content.

Nutritional Information and Properties of Barley

Barley is alkaline in nature and a treasure chest of magnesium. Enzymes, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, phosphorus, and iron are found in pearl barley. It also contains hordenine, which accounts for its diuretic property. Sprouted barley consists of maltose, glucose, and vitamin B. In addition to dietary fiber, barley also abounds in selenium and tryptophan. The juice from the stem of the barley plant is a rich source of chlorophyllins, and it exhibits good antioxidant property.

Health Benefits and Therapeutic Uses of Barley

The vitamin and mineral content in barley account for its diverse health benefits and therapeutic uses.

  • Barley is considered to be a great breakfast cereal with lots of insoluble dietary fiber. This is then fed by the friendly bacteria in the intestines and gets converted to butyric acid. This acid nourishes the intestinal cells and thus, results in a healthy colon.
  • The fiber content in barley also gets agglutinated to the bile acids and then eliminates them from the body. This, in turn, breaks down the cholesterol in the body and thus also keeps a check on the rising cholesterol levels.
  • The niacin content is barley is believed to be effective in allaying the onset of ailments of the cardiovascular system in the body.
  • Barley is a good source of phosphorus, which is essential in the formation of the mineral matter in the bones.
  • Copper that is present in barley is believed to reduce the effects of rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Barley is also included in the diet of diabetic persons as it regulates the blood sugar levels.
  • The occurrence of asthma in children is also considered to be reduced greatly by maintaining an intake of barley in the diet.
  • The malt extract of barley is considered effective for poor digestive abilities. Barley water, on the other hand, is found to mitigate coughs, recurrent attacks of diarrhea, and any stomach upsets while recuperating from any illness.
  • The low sodium content in barley keeps the calcium in liquid form, thus providing relief for rheumatism and arthritis.
  • Barley, an excellent choice of a whole grain, is considered effective in the prevention of cancer in the body.
  • The high selenium content in barley combines with vitamin E and exhibits excellent antioxidant properties. Thus, barley is the natural choice for preventing heart disease, cancer, arthritis and asthma. 

Other Uses of Barley

  • During hot weather conditions, barley is believed to provide a cooling effect for livestock.
  • Barley water is also believed to have astringent properties, and it can be used as a skin freshener on normal skin types.