Barley (Hordeum vulgare L.), is a major cereal grain. Barley was one of the first domesticated grains in Western Asia and near the Nile river of northeast Africa. It ontains eight essential amino acids, vitamins (B1, B2, B3, B5, B6), folate, and important minerals such as iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and zinc. Considered a whole grain, dehulled barley still has its bran and germ, making it a nutritious and popular health food.
Antioxidants neutralize harmful free radicals in your body. Oxidative stress is considered one of the primary causal factors for aging and various diseases such as arteriosclerosis, cardiovascular disease, cerebral diseases, diabetes, inflammatory diseases, and cancer. β-Glucan is a polysaccharide, and it has been used in health products as a diet food, because glucan is a dietary fiber. Among cereals, the highest content (g per 100g dry weight) of β-glucan has been reported for barley: 2–20g (65% is water-soluble fraction) and for oats: 3–8g (82% is water-soluble fraction). Other cereals also contain β-glucan but in much lower amounts: sorghum 1.1–6.2g, rye 1.3–2.7g, maize 0.8–1.7g, triticale 0.3–1.2g, wheat 0.5–1.0g, durum wheat 0.5-0.6g, and rice 0.13g.
β-Glucans extracted from barley, have been demonstrated to reduce blood lipid levels, including cholesterol and triglyceride levels. In addition, β-glucans extracted from barley have also been reported to possess various other biologic activities, for example, reducing blood glucose level, enhancing insulin response, protecting against stress ulcers, and restraining allergic reactions.
Claims that barley products reduce the danger of coronary heart disease have been endorsed by the Food and Drug Administration of the United States.
There is also established evidence on the role of dietary fibers in obesity and metabolic syndrome. Coronary artery disease, stroke, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and metabolic syndrome are well-known medical comorbidities associated with excess body weight. Among soluble fibers, β-glucan is the most frequently consumed and is associated with reduced presence of insulin resistance, dyslipidemia, hypertension, and obesity. In comparison to insoluble fibers, soluble fibers are more potent in attenuating the presence of components of the metabolic syndrome.
The use of health claims with β -glucan-containing foods has been allowed in several countries including Canada, the United States of American, Sweden, Finland, and the United Kingdom. No human adverse effects have been reported following the consumption of a diet rich in β -glucan from oat or barley flour or their extracts!
Barley has long been known by folk medicine. It is used for:
-increasing strength and endurance
-diarrhea, stomach pain, inflammatory bowel conditions
-treating acne (applied to the skin)