By Billie Lentz
Communications & Marketing Assistant
Northern Crops Institute
Barley, one of the oldest crops in the world dating back what some expect to be 10,000 years, is often praised for contributions to the beverage industry as a key ingredient to beer. However, its power and potential in the food industry is not something to let slip past you. This grain has many options for you to incorporate it into your lifestyle, and provides benefits that will exceed your expectations. Below, you can find the three things you should know before adding barley to your diet.
1: There’s many different types of barley you can eat
Depending on what you are looking for when adding barley to your diet, there are a few different options of barley to choose from. Hulled barley, an official whole grain, has not gone through as much processing, which allows it to keep its bran and germ, while still removing the inedible outer shell. Hulled barley can be used to add an extra boost of fiber, has a texture that seems chewier, and takes a bit longer to cook. Pearled barley does not have the hull or bran and is able to be cooked much faster, but also has a few less nutrients compared to hulled barley. Pearled barley is also often much easier to access in grocery stores and can still supply an excellent source for fiber and protein. Hulless waxy barley does not have the hull, but keeps its bran germ and endosperm. Along with being a strong source of protein, hulless waxy barley has a mild nut like flavor that can be used to add a soft texture to baked items as a flour.
2: Barley is super healthy
Barley often receives high praise for being a wonderful heart healthy grain. Supplying nutrients such as folate, iron, vitamin B-6, potassium, and having no cholesterol, people that have barley in their diet have the chance of reducing heart disease and high blood pressure.
Along with being heart healthy, barley contains beta-glucan, which is effective with reducing a person’s appetite and intake of food, as well as niacin, riboflavin, magnesium, thiamin, and selenium which increases the body’s cell formation process, such as carrying oxygen through bloodstreams, and improves the performance of the immune system.
3: The possibilities of cooking with barley are endless
Whether you want to completely jump on the barley band wagon, or take baby steps to adding this grain to your diet, the possibilities of cooking with barley are endless. Barley can be added to a side dish, or become the star of your main dish. It can be used to as part of a soup, in a pie crust or other baked goods, and much much more!
Barley isn’t going anywhere any time soon, so why not take advantage of all the benefits that this grain offers? From the variety of options of using it, to its copious amount of health benefits, to the endless possibilities of cooking with it, barley is a versatile grain that anyone, and everyone, should use.