Barley, a global grain
A top ranking crop
Barley is the 4th mostly produced grain in the world coming directly after wheat, rice and corn.
Barley accounts for 7-8% percent of the world’s cereal products.
A highly adaptable grain
Barley is a highly adaptable grain with the ability to grow in climates ranging from subarctic to subtropical areas
Despite its origins in the East, today’s top growers of barley are the EU(40%), Russia (8%) and Ukraine (7%).
A versatile grain
Barley has a variety of uses; it is commercially used as animal feed; it is also used to produce malt which is used in the production of malted beverages and malt vinegar.
Barley is also used as seed and in human food products such as breads as well as soup thickener.
Approximately 51% af all barley crops contribute to animal feed, while 44% is used to produce malt, 3% for seeds and finally 2% is dedicated towards food products.
Figure 1: Global barley production and malt exports, 2006 (million tons)
Source: FAOSTAT database
A truly rich grain
Extraordinary fiber content
Fiber levels found in barley are extraordinarily high thanks to having the fiber nutrients present throughout the whole grain unlike most other grains in which fibers are only concentrated in the outer bran layer only.
This rich fiber content makes barley recommended for regularity, lower cholesterol and for intestinal protection.
Barley a mine of nutrients
Barley is also very rich in nutrients such as molybdenum, magnesium, selenium, copper, vitamin B1, chromium, phosphorus and niacin.
This makes it especially beneficial for a wide array of illnesses such as Arthritis, cardiovascular risks, cholesterol and it also helps in the development and repair of body tissue.
Barley the healthy grain
Vitamin C & E present in green barley are important antioxidants for human health.
Barley also has a high content of ferulic acid which can improve strength and increase lean muscle mass and acts as a strong membrane antioxidant.
Barley the choice of diabetic patients
Barley contains essential vitamins and minerals as well as being an excellent source of dietary fiber, particularly beta-gluten soluble fiber which makes it an excellent choice for those who are suffering from type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes.
Barley ideal for keeping fit
Barley is naturally cholesterol-free and low in fat. A 1/2 cup serving of cooked pearl barley contains less than 0.5 grams of fat and only 100 calories.
Barley … a grain with a long history
Remains of barley grains found at archaeological sites in the Fertile Crescent indicate that around 10,000years ago, barley was domesticated from ‘Hordeum Spontaneum’ , its wild variant.
Wide presence; long heritage
Wild barley ranged from North Africa to the Tibet with the earliest evidence of the grain dating back to about 8,500 BC near the Sea of Galilee.
Drink of the pharaohs
Archeological excavations as far as 100 km from Cairo, Egypt have shown that barley was grown over 8,000 years ago.
Beer was an extremely popular drink among Ancient Egyptians, drank by adults and children. Beer or ‘Hqt’ (pronounced Heqet) was the drink of the wealthy and poor.
Engraving on temple walls depict barley being used to make uniquely light bread that would later be fermented in water to make beer before being stored in jars.
Archeologists have found traces in drinking jars that indicate that barley was used to make malt while dates and spices were often added to enhance the flavor.
Barley the power grain
Barley was also quite popular in Ancient Greece, often mixed with herbs to make a drink called Kykeon.
Barley was also dried to make porridge and was a regular food for Greek Gladiators. The ancient Greeks also found barley to be a very good remedy for gastrointestinal inflammations.
The Hebrews even used the grain as a symbol of power and gave it a warlike connotation.
Currently, there are around 16 different species of barley growing in over 100 countries across the globe.
Uncovering the Nutrition Values of Barley
Significant Fiber Content
While the fibers in most grains are largely concentrated in the outer bran layer, barley’s fiber nutrients are present throughout the whole grain, which may account for its extraordinary high fiber levels and b-gluten (dietary fiber) grain content.
Barley’s Fat Content
Like all agricultural foods, barley is naturally cholesterol-free and low in fat. A 1/2-cup serving of cooked pearl barley, a typical grain serving, contains less than 1/2gram of fat and only 100 calories. Yet Barley is also quite filling, which is quite useful for people on diets.
Barley’s Nutrients and Effects on Health…
Food with barley not only adds flavor, but also provides many nutrients as it is a great source for Molybdenum, Manganese, dietary fiber and Selenium, as well as providing high levels of Cooper, Vitamin B1, Chromium, Phosphorus, Magnesium and Niacin. Barley also contains antioxidants, which are essential for maintaining a healthy diet. Antioxidants work to reduce the rate of oxidative damage by rounding up free radicals that form when body cells use Oxygen.
Other Beauty Benefits…
Indeed, Barley also applied to the skin for treating boils have also yielded successful outcomes.
Integrating Barley into Food Products
It is very popular as a breakfast cereal, but can also be used to great effect in soups and stews and as a rice substitute for dishes such as risotto. Barley offers a variety of health benefits, while maintaining the unique flavor.