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6/25/2014 Barley

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June 16-22
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Barley, hulled, dry
0.33 cup
(61.33 grams)
Calories: 217
GI: low
Nutrient DRI/DV
molybdenum 59.9%
manganese 59.5%
fiber 42.4%
selenium 42%
copper 34.4%
vitamin B1 33.3%
chromium 23.3%
phosphorus 23.1%
magnesium 20.3%
vitamin B3 17.6%
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. Sprouted barley is
naturally high in maltose, a sugar that serves as
the basis for both malt syrup sweetener. When
fermented, barley is used as an ingredient in beer
and other alcoholic beverages.
This chart graphically details the %DV that a
serving of Barley provides for each of the
nutrients of which it is a good, very good, or
excellent source according to our Food Rating
System. Additional information about the amount
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6/25/2014 Barley
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of these nutrients provided by Barley can be
found in the Food Rating System Chart. A link that
takes you to the In-Depth Nutritional Profile for
Barley, featuring information over 80 nutrients,
can be found under the Food Rating System
Health Benefits
How to Select and Store
Tips for Preparing and Cooking
How to Enjoy
Individual Concerns
Nutritional Profile
Health Benefits
When the weather's cold, a big pot of soup
simmering on the stove warms the heart as well
as the hearth. Adding some whole grain barley to
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 molybdenum, manganese, dietary fiber,
and selenium, and a good source of copper,
vitamin B1, chromium, phosphorus, magnesium,
and niacin.
Barley's Fiber for Regularity,
Lower Cholesterol, & Intestinal
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. When these helpful bacteria
ferment barley's insoluble fiber, they produce a
short-chain fatty acid called butyric acid, which
serves as the primary fuel for the cells of the large
intestine and helps maintain a healthy colon.
These helpful bacteria also create two other
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short-chain fatty acids, propionic and acetic acid,
which are used as fuel by the cells of the liver and
The propionic acid produced from barley's
insoluble fiber may also be partly responsible for
the cholesterol-lowering properties of fiber. In
animal studies, propionic acid has been shown to
inhibit HMG-CoA reductase, an enzyme involved
in the production of cholesterol by the liver. By
lowering the activity of this enzyme, propionic acid
helps lower blood cholesterol levels.
In addition, barley's dietary 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 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.
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.
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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
Additional Protection Against
Yet another reason to increase your intake of
barley is that, in addition to its fiber, barley is also
a good source of niacin, a B vitamin that provides
numerous protective actions against
cardiovascular risk factors. Niacin can help
reduce total cholesterol and lipoprotein (a) levels.
(Lipoprotein (a) or Lp(a) is a molecule composed
of protein and fat that is found in blood plasma
and is very similar to LDL cholesterol, but is even
more dangerous as it has an additional molecule
of adhesive protein called apolioprotein (a), which
renders Lp(a) more capable of attaching to blood
vessel walls.)
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
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daily value for niacin.
Significant Cardiovascular
Benefits for Postmenopausal
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.
The women's intake of fiber from fruits, vegetables
and refined grains was not associated with a
lessening in CVD progression.
The 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans
recommends at least 3 servings of whole-grain
foods each day, but experts say most Americans
eat less than a single serving. Don't be part of this
majority! For delicious ideas that can help you
enjoy whole grains as a daily part of your
"Healthiest Way of Eating," see the "How to
Enjoy" section below and take a look at the other
World's Healthiest Foods ideas for whole grains
by clicking buckwheat, corn, millet, quinoa, brown
rice, rye, spelt, whole wheat.
Prevent Heart Failure with a
Whole Grains Breakfast
Heart failure is the leading cause of hospitalization
among the elderly in the United States. Success
of drug treatment is only partial (ACE inhibitors
and beta-blockers are typically used; no evidence
has found statins safe or effective for heart
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failure), and its prognosis remains poor. Follow up
of 2445 discharged hospital patients with heart
failure revealed that 37.3% died during the first
year, and 78.5% died within 5 years.
Since consumption of whole grain products and
dietary fiber has been shown to reduce the risk of
high blood pressure and heart attack, Harvard
researchers decided to look at the effects of
cereal consumption on heart failure risk and
followed 21,376 participants in the Physicians
Health Study over a period of 19.6 years.
After adjusting for confounding factors (age,
smoking, alcohol consumption, vegetable
consumption, use of vitamins, exercise, and
history of heart disease), they found that men who
simply enjoyed a daily morning bowl of whole
grain (but not refined) cereal had a 29% lower risk
of heart failure. Isn't your heart worth protecting,
especially when the prescriptiona morning bowl
of hearty whole grainsis so delicious? For quick,
easy, heart-healthy, whole grain recipes, click The
World's Healthiest Foods, and look at the "How to
Enjoy" section in any of our grain profiles.
Barley and Other Whole Grains
Substantially Lower Risk of
Type 2 Diabetes
Barley and other whole grains are rich sources 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
The FDA permits foods that contain at least 51%
whole grains by weight (and are also low in fat,
saturated fat, and cholesterol) to display a health
claim stating consumption is linked to lower risk of
heart disease and certain cancers. Now, research
suggests regular consumption of whole grains
also reduces risk of type 2 diabetes.
In this 8-year trial, involving 41,186 particpants of
the Black Women's Health Study, research data
confirmed inverse associations between
magnesium, calcium and major food sources in
relation to type 2 diabetes that had already been
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reported in predominantly white populations.
Risk of type 2 diabetes was 31% lower in black
women who frequently ate whole grains compared
to those eating the least of these magnesium-rich
foods. When the women's dietary intake of
magnesium intake was considered by itself, a
beneficial, but lesser19%reduction in risk of
type 2 diabetes was found, indicating that whole
grains offer special benefits in promoting healthy
blood sugar control. Daily consumption of low-fat
dairy foods was also helpful, lowering risk of type
2 diabetes by 13%. So, if you'd like to enjoy a hot
bowl of barley for breakfast (an especially good
ideasee immediately below), serve topped with
low-fat milk.
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.
In this study, which involved 10 overweight
women (mean age: 50 years, body mass index:
30), subjects ate a controlled diet for 2 days and
were then given, in rotation, glucose alone and
then 4 test meals in which 2/3 of the carbohydrate
came first from oat flour then oatmeal, barley flour
or barley flakes.
Glucose responses were reduced after test meals
by both oats and barley, although more by barley
(29-36% by oats and 59-65% by barley). Insulin
responses after test meals were significantly
reduced only by barley (44-56%). Interestingly,
whether the oats or barley was consumed in the
form of meal, flakes or flour had little effect. What
seems to have been responsible for barley's
significantly greater effectiveness in reducing both
glucose and insulin responses is barley's soluble
fiber content. The barley used in the study (a
cultivar called Prowashonupana) contains more
than 4 times the soluble fiber of common oats.
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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. Fruits richest in fiber
include apples, dates, figs, pears and prunes.
When choosing a high fiber cereal, look for whole
grain cereals as they supply the most bran (a
mere 1/3rd cup of bran contains about 14 grams
of fiber). With its rich, nutty flavor, barley makes a
great breakfast alternative to a bowl of hot
oatmeal. A mere quarter-cup of barley delivers
one-quarter of the RDI for fiber!
Barley Can Help Prevent
Eating foods high in insoluble fiber, such as
barley, can help women avoid gallstones, shows a
study published in the American Journal of
Studying the overall fiber intake and types of fiber
consumed over a 16 year period by almost 70,000
women in the Nurses Health Study, researchers
found that those consuming the most fiber overall
(both soluble and insoluble) had a 13% lower risk
of developing gallstones compared to women
consuming the fewest fiber-rich foods.
Those eating the most foods rich in insoluble fiber
gained even more protection against gallstones: a
17% lower risk compared to women eating the
least. And the protection was dose-related; a 5-
gram increase in insoluble fiber intake dropped
risk dropped 10%.
How do foods rich in insoluble fiber help prevent
gallstones? Researchers think insoluble fiber not
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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.
Whole Grains and Fish Highly
Protective against Childhood
According to the American Lung Association,
almost 20 million Americans suffer from asthma,
which is reported to be responsible for over 14
million lost school days in children, and an annual
economic cost of more than $16.1 billion.
Increasing consumption of whole grains and fish
could reduce the risk of childhood asthma by
about 50%, suggests the International Study on
Allergy and Asthma in Childhood (Tabak C, Wijga
AH, Thorax).
The researchers, from the Dutch National Institute
of Public Health and the Environment, Utrecht
University, University Medical Center Groningen,
used food frequency questionnaires completed by
the parents of 598 Dutch children aged 8-13
years. They assessed the children's consumption
of a range of foods including fish, fruits,
vegetables, dairy and whole grain products. Data
on asthma and wheezing were also assessed
using medical tests as well as questionnaires.
While no association between asthma and intake
of fruits, vegetables, and dairy products was
found (a result at odds with other studies that
have supported a link between antioxidant intake,
particularly vitamins C and E, and asthma), the
children's intake of both whole grains and fish was
significantly linked to incidence of wheezing and
current asthma.
In children with a low intake of fish and whole
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grains, the prevalence of wheezing was almost
20%, but was only 4.2% in children with a high
intake of both foods. Low intake of fish and whole
grains also correlated with a much higher
incidence of current asthma (16.7%). compared to
only a 2.8% incidence of current asthma among
children with a high intake of both foods.
After adjusting results for possible confounding
factors, such as the educational level of the
mother, and total energy intake, high intakes of
whole grains and fish were found to be associated
with a 54 and 66% reduction in the probability of
being asthmatic, respectively.
The probability of having asthma with bronchial
hyperresponsiveness (BHR), defined as having
an increased sensitivity to factors that cause
narrowing of the airways, was reduced by 72 and
88% when children had a high-intake of whole
grains and fish, respectively.
Lead researcher, CoraTabak commented, "The
rise in the prevalence of asthma in western
societies may be related to changed dietary
habits." We agree. The Standard American Diet is
sorely deficient in the numerous anti-inflammatory
compounds found in fish and whole grains,
notably, the omega-3 fats supplied by cold water
fish and the magnesium and vitamin E provided by
whole grains. One caution: wheat may need to be
avoided as it is a common food allergen
associated with asthma.
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.
Selenium is an essential component of several
major metabolic pathways, including thyroid
hormone metabolism, antioxidant defense
systems, and immune function. Accumulated
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evidence from prospective studies, intervention
trials and studies on animal models of cancer has
suggested a strong inverse correlation between
selenium intake and cancer incidence. Several
mechanisms have been suggested to explain the
cancer-preventive activities of selenium. Selenium
has been shown to induce DNA repair and
synthesis in damaged cells, to inhibit the
proliferation of cancer cells, and to induce their
apoptosis, the self-destruct sequence the body
uses to eliminate worn out or abnormal cells.
In addition, selenium is incorporated at the active
site of many proteins, including glutathione
peroxidase, which is particularly important for
cancer protection. One of the body's most
powerful antioxidant enzymes, glutathione
peroxidase is used in the liver to detoxify a wide
range of potentially harmful molecules. When
levels of glutathione peroxidase are too low,
these toxic molecules are not disarmed and wreak
havoc on any cells with which they come in
contact, damaging their cellular DNA and
promoting the development of cancer cells.
Not only does selenium play a critical role in
cancer prevention as a cofactor of glutathione
peroxidase, 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
Phenolics, powerful antioxidants that work in
multiple ways to prevent disease, are one major
class of phytonutrients that have been widely
studied. Included in this broad category are such
compounds as quercetin, curcumin, ellagic acid,
catechins, and many others that appear frequently
in the health news.
When Dr. Liu and his colleagues measured the
relative amounts of phenolics, and whether they
were present in bound or free form, in common
fruits and vegetables like apples, red grapes,
broccoli and spinach, they found that phenolics in
the "free" form averaged 76% of the total number
of phenolics in these foods. In whole grains,
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however, "free" phenolics accounted for less than
1% of the total, while the remaining 99% were in
"bound" form.
In his presentation, Dr. Liu explained that because
researchers have examined whole grains with the
same process used to measure antioxidants in
vegetables and fruitslooking for their content of
"free" phenolics"the amount and activity of
antioxidants in whole grains has been vastly
Despite the differences in fruits', vegetables' and
whole grains' content of "free" and "bound"
phenolics, the total antioxidant activity in all three
types of whole foods is similar, according to Dr.
Liu's research. His team measured the antioxidant
activity of various foods, assigning each a rating
based on a formula (micromoles of vitamin C
equivalent per gram). Broccoli and spinach
measured 80 and 81, respectively; apple and
banana measured 98 and 65; and of the whole
grains tested, corn measured 181, whole wheat
77, oats 75, and brown rice 56.
Dr. Liu's findings may help explain why studies
have shown that populations eating diets high in
fiber-rich whole grains consistently have lower risk
for colon cancer, yet short-term clinical trials that
have focused on fiber alone in lowering colon
cancer risk, often to the point of giving subjects
isolated fiber supplements, yield inconsistent
results. The explanation is most likely that these
studies have not taken into account the interactive
effects of all the nutrients in whole grainsnot
just their fiber, but also their many phytonutrients.
As far as whole grains are concerned, Dr. Liu
believes that the key to their powerful cancer-
fighting potential is precisely their wholeness. A
grain of whole wheat consists of three partsits
endosperm (starch), bran and germ. When wheat
or any whole grainis refined, its bran and
germ are removed. Although these two parts make
up only 15-17% of the grain's weight, they contain
83% of its phenolics. Dr. Liu says his recent
findings on the antioxidant content of whole grains
reinforce the message that a variety of foods
should be eaten good health. "Different plant
foods have different phytochemicals," he said.
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"These substances go to different organs, tissues
and cells, where they perform different functions.
What your body needs to ward off disease is this
synergistic effectthis teamworkthat is
produced by eating a wide variety of plant foods,
including whole grains."
Lignans Protect against
Cancers and Heart Disease
One type of phytonutrient especially abundant in
whole grains such as barley are plant lignans,
which are converted by friendly flora in our
intestines into mammalian lignans, including one
called enterolactone that is thought to protect
against breast and other hormone-dependent
cancers as well as heart disease. In addition to
whole grains, nuts, seeds and berries are rich
sources of plant lignans, and vegetables, fruits,
and beverages such as coffee, tea and wine also
contain some. When blood levels of enterolactone
were measured in over 800 postmenopausal
women in a Danish study published in the Journal
of Nutrition, women eating the most whole grains
were found to have significantly higher blood
levels of this protective lignan. Women who ate
more cabbage and leafy vegetables also had
higher enterolactone levels.
Fiber from Whole Grains and
Fruit Protective against Breast
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
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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).
Fiber from fruit was also protective. Pre-
menopausal women whose diets supplied the
most fiber from fruit (at least 6 g/day) had a 29%
reduced risk of breast cancer, compared to those
with the lowest fruit fiber intake (2 g or less per
Practical Tip: As the following table shows, it's
surprisingly easy to enjoy a healthy way of eating
that delivers at least 13 grams of whole grain fiber
and 6 grams of fiber from fruit each day.
Fiber Content in
Oatmeal, 1 cup 3.98
Whole wheat bread, 1
Whole wheat spaghetti, 1
Brown rice, 1 cup 3.5
Barley, 1 cup 13.6
Buckwheat, 1 cup 4.54
Rye, 1/3 cup 8.22
Corn, 1 cup 4.6
Apple, 1 medium with
Banana, 1 medium 4.0
Blueberries, 1 cup 3.92
Orange, 1 large 4.42
Pear, 1 large 5.02
Prunes, 1/4 cup 3.02
Strawberries, 1 cup 3.82
Raspberries, 1 cup 8.36
*Fiber content can vary between brands.
Source: esha Research, Food Processor for
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Windows, Version 7.8
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. Copper is an essential
cofactor of a key oxidative enzyme called
superoxide dismutase. Superoxide dismutase
disarms free radicals produced within the
mitochondria (the energy production factories
within our cells). Copper is also necessary for the
activity of lysyl oxidase, an enzyme involved in
cross-linking collagen and elastin, both of which
provide the ground substance and flexibility in
blood vessels, bones and joints. One cup of
cooked barley provides 32.0% of the daily value
for copper.
Development and Repair of
Body Tissue
The phosphorus provided by barley plays a role in
the structure of every cell in the body. In addition
to its role in forming the mineral matrix of bone,
phosphorus is an essential component of
numerous other life-critical compounds including
adenosine triphosphate or ATP, the molecule that
is the energy currency of the body. Phosphorus is
an important component of nucleic acids, the
building blocks of the genetic code. In addition,
the metabolism of lipids (fats) relies on
phosphorus, and phosphorus is an essential
component of lipid-containing structures such as
cell membranes and nervous system structures. A
cup of cooked barley will give you 23.0% of the
daily value for phosphorus.
Meta-analysis Explains Whole
Grains' Health Protective
In many studies, eating whole grains, such as
barley, has been linked to protection against
atherosclerosis, ischemic stroke, diabetes, insulin
resistance, obesity, and premature death. A new
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study and accompanying editorial, published in
the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition explains
the likely reasons behind these findings and
recommends at least 3 servings of whole grains
should be eaten daily.
Whole grains are concentrated sources of fiber. In
this meta-analysis of 7 studies including more
than 150,000 persons, those whose diets
provided the highest dietary fiber intake had a
29% lower risk of cardiovascular disease
compared to those with the lowest fiber intake.
But it's not just fiber's ability to serve as a bulking
agent that is responsible for its beneficial effects
as a component of whole grains. Wheat bran, for
example, which constitutes 15% of most whole-
grain wheat kernels but is virtually non-existent in
refined wheat flour, is rich in minerals,
antioxidants, lignans, and other
phytonutrients:mdash;as well as in fiber.
In addition to the matrix of nutrients in their dietary
fibers, the whole-grain arsenal includes a wide
variety of additional nutrients and phytonutrients
that reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Compounds in whole grains that have cholesterol-
lowering effects include polyunsaturated fatty
acids, oligosaccharides, plant sterols and stanols,
and saponins.
Whole grains are also important dietary sources of
water-soluble, fat-soluble, and insoluble
antioxidants. The long list of cereal antioxidants
includes vitamin E, tocotrieonols, selenium,
phenolic acids, and phytic acid. These
multifunctional antioxidants come in immediate-
release to slow-release forms and thus are
available throughout the gastrointestinal tract over
a long period after being consumed.
The high antioxidant capacity of wheat bran, for
example, is 20-fold that of refined wheat flour
(endosperm). Although the role of antioxidant
supplements in protecting against cardiovascular
disease has been questioned, prospective
population studies consistently suggest that when
consumed in whole foods, antioxidants are
associated with significant protection against
cardiovascular disease. Because free radical
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damage to cholesterol appears to contribute
significantly to the development of
atherosclerosis, the broad range of antioxidant
activities from the phytonutrients abundant in
whole-grains is thought to play a strong role in
their cardio-protective effects.
Like soybeans, whole grains are valuable sources
of phytoestrogens, plant compounds that may
affect blood cholesterol levels, blood vessel
elasticity, bone metabolism, and many other
cellular metabolic processes.
Whole grains are rich sources of lignans that are
converted by the human gut to enterolactone and
enterodiole. In studies of Finnish men, blood
levels of enterolactone have been found to have
an inverse relation not just to cardiovascular-
related death, but to all causes of death, which
suggests that the plant lignans in whole grains
may play an important role in their protective
Lower insulin levels may also contribute to the
protective effects of whole grains. In many
persons, the risks of atherosclerotic
cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity are
linked to insulin resistance. Higher intakes of
whole grains are associated with increased
sensitivity to insulin in population studies and
clinical trials. Why? Because whole grains
improve insulin sensitivity by lowering the
glycemic index of the diet while increasing its
content of fiber, magnesium, and vitamin E.
The whole kernel of truth: as part of your healthy
way of eating, whole grains can significantly lower
your risk of cardiovascular disease, obesity and
type 2 diabetes. Enjoy at least 3 servings a day.
No idea how to cook whole grains? Just look at
the "How to Enjoy" section in our profiles of the
whole grains, or for quick, easy, delicious recipes,
click on this link to our Recipe Assistant and
select whatever whole grain you would like to
Barley is a wonderfully versatile cereal grain with
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a rich nutlike flavor and an appealing chewy,
pasta-like consistency, the result of its gluten
content. Its appearance resembles wheat berries,
although it is slightly lighter in color. Sprouted
barley is naturally high in maltose, a sugar that
serves as the basis for both malt syrup sweetener
and when fermented, as an ingredient in beer and
other alcoholic beverages.
Barley can be found in the market in various
different forms:
Hulled barley: Like the name suggests, the
outermost hull of the grain is all that gets
removed in this form of barley. While this
makes for a chewier grain that requires more
soaking and cooking, it also makes for a
more nutritious food. Hulled barley is also
sometimes called "dehulled barley," and it is
the one form of barley what would be
considered whole grain.
Pearl barley: Various degrees of polishing, or
"pearling" take place in the production of
pearl barley. In addition to a polishing off of
the outermost hull, the grain's bran layer, and
even parts of its inner endosperm layer, may
be removed during the pearling process. In
general, as you move from regular to medium
to fine to baby pearl barley, you find
increasing loss of nutrients. Pearl barley is
much less chewy and quicker cooking than
hulled barley, but it is also much lower in
nutrients, and would not be considered
whole grain.
Pot/scotch barley: In terms of processing,
this form of barley falls in between hulled and
pearl barley. It's been polished to remove its
outer hull, but the polishing process is not
continued for much longer, so that a large
amount of the remaining grain is left intact.
While pot barley would not technically be
considered whole grain, and would lack
some of the benefits of hulled barley, it is still
a very reasonable nutritional choice and
more nutrient dense than pearl barley. In
many countries, pot barley is popular in
soups - thus the origin of its name.
Barley flakes: Flattened and sliced, barley
flakes are similar in shape to rolled oats.
Barley flakes can be made from hulled,
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hulless, or pearl barley, and can be
significantly different in nutrient content for
this reason.
Barley grits: Barley that has been toasted
and cracked, barley grits are similar in
appearance to bulgar. Barley grits can be
made from hulled, hulless, or pearl barley,
and can be significantly different in nutrient
content for this reason.
The Latin name for barley is Hordeum vulgare.
Barley originated in Ethiopia and Southeast Asia,
where it has been cultivated for more than 10,000
years. Barley was used by ancient civilizations as
a food for humans and animals, as well as to
make alcoholic beverages; the first known recipe
for barley wine dates back to 2800 BC in
Babylonia. In addition, since ancient times, barley
water has been used for various medicinal
Barley played an important role in ancient Greek
culture as a staple bread-making grain as well as
an important food for athletes, who attributed
much of their strength to their barley-containing
training diets. Roman athletes continued this
tradition of honoring barley for the strength that it
gave them. Gladiators were known as hordearii,
which means "eaters of barley." Barley was also
honored in ancient China as a symbol of male
virility since the heads of barley are heavy and
contain numerous seeds.
Since wheat was very expensive and not widely
available in the Middle Ages, many Europeans at
that time made bread from a combination of barley
and rye. In the 16th century, the Spanish
introduced barley to South America, while the
English and Dutch settlers of the 17th century
brought it with them to the United States.
Today, the largest commercial producers of barley
are Canada, the United States, the Russian
Federation, Germany, France and Spain.
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How to Select and Store
Barley is generally available in its pearled, hulled
and flaked form. It is available prepackaged as
well as in bulk containers. Just as with any other
food that you may purchase in the bulk section,
make sure that the bins containing the barley are
covered and that the store has a good product
turnover so as to ensure its maximal freshness.
Whether purchasing barley in bulk or in a
packaged container, make sure that there is no
evidence of moisture.
Store barley in a tightly covered glass container in
a cool, dry place. Barley can also be stored in the
refrigerator during periods of warmer weather.
Tips for Preparing and
Tips for Preparing Barley
Like all grains, before cooking barley, rinse it
thoroughly under running water and then remove
any dirt or debris that you may find. After rinsing,
add one part barley to three and a half parts
boiling water or broth. After the liquid has returned
to a boil, turn down the heat, cover and simmer.
Pearled barley should be simmered for about one
hour, while hulled barley should be cooked for
about 90 minutes.
How to Enjoy
A Few Quick Serving Ideas:
Mix barley flour with wheat flour to make breads
and muffins that have a uniquely sweet and earthy
Use cracked barley or barley flakes to make hot
Toss chilled cooked hulled barley with chopped
vegetables and dressing to make a tasty cold
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Add barley to your favorite stews and soups to
give them extra heartiness and flavor.
Combine cooked barley and healthy sauted
mushrooms for a pilaf with an Eastern European
For some of our favorite recipes, click Recipes.
Individual Concerns
Barley and the Gluten Grains
Barley is a member of a non-scientifically
established grain group traditionally called the
"gluten grains." The idea of grouping certain
grains together under the label "gluten grains" has
come into question in recent years as technology
has given food scientists a way to look more
closely at the composition of grains. Some
healthcare practitioners continue to group wheat,
oats, barley and rye together under the heading of
"gluten grains" and to ask for elimination of the
entire group on a wheat-free diet. Other
practitioners now treat wheat separately from
these other grains, including barley, based on
recent research. Wheat is unquestionably a more
common source of food reactions than any of the
other "gluten grains," including barley. Although
you may initially want to eliminate barley from your
meal planning if you are implementing a wheat-
free diet, you will want to experiment at some
point with re-introduction of this food. You may be
able to take advantage of its diverse nutritional
benefits without experiencing an adverse reaction.
Individuals with wheat-related conditions like
celiac sprue or gluten-sensitive enteropathies
should consult with their healthcare practitioner
before experimenting with any of the "gluten
grains," including barley.
Nutritional Profile
Barley is a very good source of molybdenum,
manganese, dietary fiber, and selenium. It also
serves as a good source of the copper, vitamin
B1, chromium, phosphorus, magnesium, and
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For an in-depth nutritional profile click here:
In-Depth Nutritional
In addition to the nutrients highlighted in our
ratings chart, an in-depth nutritional profile for
Barley is also available. This profile includes
information on a full array of nutrients, including
carbohydrates, sugar, soluble and insoluble fiber,
sodium, vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, amino
acids and more.
Introduction to Food
Rating System Chart
In order to better help you identify foods that
feature a high concentration of nutrients for the
calories they contain, we created a Food Rating
System. This system allows us to highlight the
foods that are especially rich in particular
nutrients. The following chart shows the nutrients
for which this food is either an excellent, very
good, or good source (below the chart you will
find a table that explains these qualifications). If a
nutrient is not listed in the chart, it does not
necessarily mean that the food doesn't contain it.
It simply means that the nutrient is not provided in
a sufficient amount or concentration to meet our
rating criteria. (To view this food's in-depth
nutritional profile that includes values for dozens
of nutrients - not just the ones rated as excellent,
very good, or good - please use the link below the
chart.) To read this chart accurately, you'll need to
glance up in the top left corner where you will find
the name of the food and the serving size we used
to calculate the food's nutrient composition. This
serving size will tell you how much of the food you
need to eat to obtain the amount of nutrients
found in the chart. Now, returning to the chart
itself, you can look next to the nutrient name in
order to find the nutrient amount it offers, the
percent Daily Value (DV%) that this amount
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Barley, hulled, dry
0.33 cup
61.33 grams
Calories: 217
GI: low
represents, the nutrient density that we calculated
for this food and nutrient, and the rating we
established in our rating system. For most of our
nutrient ratings, we adopted the government
standards for food labeling that are found in the
U.S. Food and Drug Administration's "Reference
Values for Nutrition Labeling." Read more
background information and details of our rating
Nutrient Amount
60.0 5.0 very good
manganese 1.19 mg 59.5 4.9 very good
fiber 10.61 g 42.4 3.5 very good
42.0 3.5 very good
copper 0.31 mg 34.4 2.9 good
vitamin B1 0.40 mg 33.3 2.8 good
23.3 1.9 good
23.1 1.9 good
20.4 1.7 good
vitamin B3 2.82 mg 17.6 1.5 good
Rating Rule
DRI/DV>=75% OR
Density>=7.6 AND DRI/DV>=10%
very good
DRI/DV>=50% OR
Density>=3.4 AND DRI/DV>=5%
DRI/DV>=25% OR
Density>=1.5 AND DRI/DV>=2.5%
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In-Depth Nutritional Profile for Barley
Anderson JW, Hanna TJ, Peng X, Kryscio
RJ. Whole grain foods and heart disease
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Behall KM, Scholfield DJ, Hallfrisch J. Diets
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mildly hypercholesterolemic men and women.
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Behall KM, Scholfield DJ, Hallfrisch J.
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and oats. J Am Coll Nutr. 2005
Jun;24(3):182-8. 2005. PMID:15930484.
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Beta-glucan fractions from barley and oats
are similarly antiatherogenic in
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Djouss L, Gaziano JM. Breakfast cereals
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22;167(19):2080-5. 2007. PMID:17954802.
Ensminger AH, Ensminger, ME, Kondale JE,
Robson JRK. Foods & Nutriton
Encyclopedia. Pegus Press, Clovis,
California. 1983.
Ensminger AH, Esminger M. K. J. e. al. Food
for Health: A Nutrition Encyclopedia. Clovis,
California: Pegus Press; 1986. 1986.
Erkkila AT, Herrington DM, Mozaffarian D,
Lichtenstein AH. Cereal fiber and whole-
grain intake are associated with reduced
progression of coronary-artery
atherosclerosis in postmenopausal women
with coronary artery disease. Am Heart J.
2005 Jul;150(1):94-101. 2005.
Fortin, Francois, Editorial Director. The
Visual Foods Encyclopedia. Macmillan, New
York. 1996.
Goldberg RJ, Ciampa J, Lessard D, et al.
Long-term survival after heart failure: a
contemporary population-based perspective.
Arch Intern Med. 2007 Mar 12;167(5):490-6.
2007. PMID:17353497.
Jensen MK, Koh-Banerjee P, Hu FB, Franz
M, Sampson L, Gronbaek M, Rimm EB.
Intakes of whole grains, bran, and germ and
the risk of coronary heart disease in men.
Am J Clin Nutr 2004 Dec;80(6):1492-9.
2004. PMID:15585760.
Johnsen NF, Hausner H, Olsen A, Tetens I,
Christensen J, Knudsen KE, Overvad K,
Tjonneland A. Intake of whole grains and
vegetables determines the plasma
enterolactone concentration of Danish
women. J Nutr. 2004 Oct;134(10):2691-7.
2004. PMID:15465768.
Jood S, Kalra S. Chemical composition and
nutritional characteristics of some hull less
and hulled barley cultivars grown in India.
Nahrung 2001 Feb;45(1):35-9. 2001.
Liu RH. New finding may be key to ending
confusion over link between fiber, colon
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Norbaek R, Brandt K, Kondo T. Identification
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of flavone C-glycosides including a new
flavonoid chromophore from barley leaves
(Hordeum vulgare L.) by improved NMR
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