When the weather gets cold, the soup on the stove warms the heart. With some barley in the pot will improve your health along with the flavor of whatever soup or stew you're cooking. 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
In addition, barley'sdietary fiber is high in beta glucan, which helps to lower cholesterol by binding to bile acids and removing them from the body via the feces. Bile acids are compounds used to digest fat that are manufactured by the liver from cholesterol. When they are excreted along with barley's fiber, the liver must manufacture new bile acids and uses up more cholesterol, thus lowering the amount of cholesterol in circulation. Soluble fiber may also reduce the amount of cholesterol manufactured by the liver.A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that 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.
Lastly, when barley provides insoluble fibers that feed friendly bacteria in the digestive tract, this helps to maintain larger populations of friendly bacteria. In addition to producing the helpful short-chain fatty acids described above, friendly bacteria play an important protective role by crowding out pathogenic (disease-causing) bacteria and preventing them from surviving in the intestinal tract.
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.
The fiber in barley can also help to prevent blood sugar levels from rising too high in people with diabetes.
Additional Protection Against Atherosclerosis
Yet another reason to increase your intake of barley is that, in addition to its fiber, barley is also a good source ofniacin, a B vitamin that provides numerous protective actions against cardiovascular risk factors. Niacin can help reduce total cholesterol and lipoprotein levels.
Niacin may also help prevent free radicals from oxidizing LDL, which only becomes potentially harmful to blood vessel walls after oxidation. Lastly, niacin can help reduce platelet aggregation, the clumping together of platelets that can result in the formation of blood clots. One cup of barley will supply you with 14.2% of the daily value for niacin.
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).
Barley and Other Whole Grains Substantially Lower Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
Barley and other whole grains are a rich source of magnesium, a mineral that acts as a co-factor for more than 300 enzymes, including enzymes involved in the body's use of glucose and insulin secretion.
Please continue to page two of barley