If you’re tired of eating brown rice with many of your meals, instead consider opting for barley instead. Barley is an ancient, hardy grain. Pearl barley with the bran removed is the most polished and most common form. It usually is enriched with vitamins and minerals lost in processing. Whole-grain barley, which is hulled, is sold too. Look for barley grits, flakes, and flour which is hull-less, but still made with whole-grain kernel.

Barley is full of good nutrients and will offer a nice nutty flavor, making it a great addition to your main meal or eaten alone as a side dish instead. Let’s look at some of the top health benefits that barley has to offer.

Barley protects against atherosclerosis

The first benefit that comes from barley is that it’s a rich source of niacin, which is a B vitamin that is going to help keep your cardiovascular system healthy and will help to protect against the development of atherosclerosis.

Eating a steady intake of niacin rich foods can help to reduce the total amount of cholesterol in the body and tilt the good cholesterol higher than the bad, thus really putting you in a healthier overall state.

Barley can help prevent type 2 diabetes

A second big benefit to adding more barley in your day is that it will help to reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.  Since this disease is brought on from eating far too many simple carbohydrates that spike the blood glucose levels, by swapping out some of those carbs for barley instead, which digests very slowly in the body you can gain control over your blood sugar and maintain steadier energy levels.

Barley also contains many enzymes that help with insulin secretion in the body, which is also a key hormone that plays an important role for managing the blood glucose levels.

Reduces the risk of gallstones

Finally, the last big benefit that regular barley consumption has is that it can reduce your risk of developing gallstones as well.

While barley may not be the first thing that comes to your mind when you think about preventing gallstones, the secret to keeping them at bay is to include lots of fiber in your diet. Fiber slows down digestion and absorption of dietary fat, which can help you avoid gallstones. How? A diet high in fiber lowers cholesterol levels and helps prevent fat deposits from hardening (and causing trouble).

Barley broth after surgery

If your digestive system needs a boost but is not strong enough to process heavy foods, nutrient dense barley broth could be a good option.

Sample barley broth recipe:

1 cup of barley
6 cups of water (if possible, use filtered but not bottled water)

Bring the water to a boil. Add barley and cook for 3-4 minutes. Turn off the heat and let stand for 15 minutes.
Drain broth and drink warm. The barley can be saved for later and eaten similarly to hot cereal with honey, butter, and salt. If you are looking for something sweet, consider adding yogurt to barley.

Barley bonus?

The natural fiber found in barley leaves your digestive tract better able to absorb nutrients, preventing nutrient deficiencies, increases digestive efficiency and helps prevent other types of illnesses and disease.

So whether you want to swap out your brown rice at dinner or exchange your oatmeal in the morning, barley provides a nice change of pace that will offer numerous health benefits.

We also enjoy barley grass. It contains small amounts of calcium, iron, all the essential amino acids, chlorophyll, flavonoids, vitamin B12, and vitamin C.