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Health Benefits

Barley (by The World’s Healthiest Foods organization – www.whfoods.org)

Barley is a wonderfully versatile cereal grain with a rich nutlike flavor and an appealing chewy, pasta-like consistency. Its appearance resembles wheat berries, although it is slightly lighter in color.

Health Benefits

In addition to its robust flavor, barley's claim to nutritional fame is based on its being a very good source of fiber and selenium, and a good source of phosphorus, copper and manganese.

Barley's Fiber for Regularity, Lower Cholesterol, & Intestinal Protection

Wish you were more regular? Let barley give your intestinal health a boost. In addition to providing bulk and decreasing the transit time of fecal matter, thus decreasing the risk of colon cancer and hemorrhoids, barley's dietary fiber also provides food for the "friendly" bacteria in the large intestine. These helpful bacteria also create two other short-chain fatty acids, propionic and acetic acid, which are used as fuel by the cells of the liver and muscles.

A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests barley's fiber has multiple beneficial effects on cholesterol. In this study of 25 individuals with high cholesterol (postmenopausal women, premenopausal women, and men), adding barley to the American Heart Association Step 1 diet resulted in a significant lowering in total cholesterol in all subjects, plus their amount of large LDL and large and intermediate HDL fractions (which are considered less atherogenic) increased, and the smaller LDL and VLDL cholesterol (the most dangerous fractions) greatly decreased.

Barley's fiber can prevent or help with a number of different conditions. For example, when barley's fiber binds to and removes cholesterol-containing bile, this can be very beneficial for people struggling with heart disease since it forces the body to make more bile by breaking down cholesterol, thus lowering cholesterol levels.

A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine confirms that eating high fiber foods, such as barley, helps prevent heart disease. Almost 10,000 American adults participated in this study and were followed for 19 years. People eating the most fiber, 21 grams per day, had 12% less coronary heart disease (CHD) and 11% less cardiovascular disease (CVD) compared to those eating the least, 5 grams daily. Those eating the most water-soluble dietary fiber fared even better with a 15% reduction in risk of CHD and a 10% risk reduction in CVD.

The fiber in barley can also help to prevent blood sugar levels from rising too high in people with diabetes.
Significant Cardiovascular Benefits for Postmenopausal Women
Eating a serving of whole grains, such as barley, at least 6 times each week is a good idea, especially for postmenopausal women with high cholesterol, high blood pressure or other signs of cardiovascular disease (CVD).
A 3-year prospective study of over 220 postmenopausal women with CVD, published in the American Heart Journal, shows that those eating at least 6 servings of whole grains each week experienced both:

  • Slowed progression of atherosclerosis, the build-up of plaque that narrows the vessels through which blood flows, and

  • Less progression in stenosis, the narrowing of the diameter of arterial passageways.

A Better Breakfast Choice for Persons with Type 2 Diabetes
Barley may be an even better breakfast choice than oats for persons with Type 2 diabetes. In a study conducted by the Agricultural Research Service at the Diet and Human Performance Laboratory in Beltsville, MD, barley was much more effective in reducing both glucose and insulin responses than oats.

Cereal and Fruit Fiber Protective against Postmenopausal Breast Cancer
Results of a prospective study involving 51,823 postmenopausal women for an average of 8.3 years showed a 34% reduction in breast cancer risk for those consuming the most fruit fiber compared to those consuming the least. In addition, in the subgroup of women who had ever used hormone replacement, those consuming the most fiber, especially cereal fiber, had a 50% reduction in their risk of breast cancer compared to those consuming the least. Int J Cancer. 2008 Jan 15;122(2):403-12.
Barley Can Help Prevent Gallstones

Eating foods high in insoluble fiber, such as barley, can help women avoid gallstones, shows a study published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology.

How do foods rich in insoluble fiber help prevent gallstones?

Researchers think insoluble fiber not only speeds intestinal transit time (how quickly food moves through the intestines), but reduces the secretion of bile acids (excessive amounts contribute to gallstone formation), increases insulin sensitivity and lowers triglycerides (blood fats). Abundant in all whole grains, insoluble fiber is also found in nuts and the edible skin of fruits and vegetables including tomatoes, cucumbers, many squash, apples, berries, and pears. In addition, beans provide insoluble as well as soluble fiber.

Promote Optimal Health with Barley's Fiber and Selenium
For people worried about colon cancer risk, barley packs a double punch by providing the fiber needed to minimize the amount of time cancer-causing substances spend in contact with colon cells, plus being a very good source of selenium, which has been shown to reduce the risk of colon cancer significantly.

Not only does selenium play a critical role in cancer prevention, selenium also works with vitamin E in numerous other vital antioxidant systems throughout the body. These powerful antioxidant actions make selenium helpful for the prevention not only of cancer, but also of heart disease, and for decreasing the symptoms of asthma and arthritis.
Phytonutrients with Health-Promoting Activity Equal to or Even Higher than that of Vegetables and Fruits
Fiber from Whole Grains and Fruit Protective against Breast Cancer

When researchers looked at how much fiber 35,972 participants in the UK Women's Cohort Study ate, they found a diet rich in fiber from whole grains, such as barley, and fruit offered significant protection against breast cancer for pre-menopausal women. (Cade JE, Burley VJ, et al., International Journal of Epidemiology).

Pre-menopausal women eating the most fiber (>30 grams daily) more than halved their risk of developing breast cancer, enjoying a 52% lower risk of breast cancer compared to women whose diets supplied the least fiber (<20 grams/day).
Fiber supplied by whole grains offered the most protection. Pre-menopausal women eating the most whole grain fiber (at least 13 g/day) had a 41% reduced risk of breast cancer, compared to those with the lowest whole grain fiber intake (4 g or less per day).
Barley's Copper Can Benefit Arthritis Sufferers
Copper, another trace mineral supplied by barley, may also be helpful in reducing the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. One cup of cooked barley provides 32.0% of the daily value for copper.

For the full article, please see:
http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=127

 

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