Grain of the Week: Barley


Barley offers many of the same healthy vitamins and minerals as other whole grains, but many think its special health benefits stem from the high levels of soluble “beta-glucan” fiber found in this grain. “Beta-glucans” reduce cholesterol, help control blood sugar, and improve immune system function. New research even indicates that “beta-glucans” may be radio-protective: they may help our bodies stand up better to chemotherapy, radiation therapy and nuclear emergencies.


Some of Barley’s benefits include:

  • Barley, like all whole grains, reduces blood pressure.
  • Eating barley has been shown to lower LDL “bad” cholesterol and may help reduce the risk of heart disease.
  • Recent research indicates that barley’s ability to control blood sugar may be exceptional, offering an important tool against rising rates of diabetes.
  • Barley has more protein than corn, brown rice, millet, sorghum or rye, and is higher in fiber and lower in soluble (starch) carbohydrates than almost all other whole grains.
  • Barley may help you feel full longer, and thereby help you control your weight.
  • Barley – even pearl barley – may help reduce visceral fat and waist circumference.


Barley, you may be surprised to find that it’s endlessly versatile. You can cook it as a side dish, such as a barley pilaf; you can bake barley bread; you can enjoy barley porridge for breakfast; and you can even use barley flour to bake your favorite cookies. While true whole grain barley can take 50-60 minutes to cook, it’s easy to cook a big batch then refrigerate it or freeze it until needed. Or cook it in soups, and enjoy comforting aromas simmering on the stove while you do something else.


Nutrition Information: 1 cup cooked Pearled Barley:  Calories 193, Fat 1g, Carbohydrates 44g, Fiber 6g, Protein 4g.


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