Do you know the benefits of barley? This grain is famous for being the base ingredient of beer but it is not very common in Brazilian food, even if it should. Several studies, from various regions of the planet, have already proven that barley is good for the organism.
Firstly, barley is one of the most cultivated grains/cereals in the world. Its scientific name is Hordeum vulgare , and it is used in food, animal and mainly for the production of beer.
The main barley producing countries are in Europe, Asia and North America, but Brazil is also included in this list. Through barley it is possible to produce malt, which is essential for the manufacture of beers and other types of alcoholic beverages.
However, you might be thinking “how can the beer ingredient be good for the body if the beer itself doesn’t?”. That’s what we’ll explain to you below!
The main benefits of barley
Despite being a basic ingredient of beer, alcoholic beverages undergo several chemical and biological processes, which have nothing to do with raw barley. Therefore, you can consume the barley at ease, confident that you are eating something natural and beneficial.
First of all, barley is rich in nutrients and healthy properties for the human body. So here are the 6 big health benefits of barley:
- It is a source of minerals and vitamins
- prevents cancer
- lowers cholesterol
- Helps the intestinal flora
- Lowers blood sugar level
- Strengthens the immune system
Plenty of benefits, isn’t it? It is noteworthy that these that were listed are the benefits proven science so far. Of course there are other healthy advantages, but these are still being studied or undergoing testing.
Thus, we chose those that were cited because there is already a scientific basis that proves them. Thus, we make sure that all of these are based on original and certified research and studies. Below, you’ll learn more about each.
About the benefits
Now you will see a little more about each of the benefits listed above. This is also where you will confirm that all these benefits are true. Because, the information is based on scientific sources and official researches. Check out our scientific references at the end of the article!
1. It is a source of minerals and vitamins
First, it is important to mention that barley is a grain very rich in nutrients that are important for good health ( 1 ). Thus, when consuming barley, we are ingesting a great mix of minerals and vitamins.
consuming 100 grams of barley, our body obtains:
- 54% of the Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) of selenium
- 52% of the manganese IDR
- 31% to IDR de vitamin B3
- 30% of phosphorus IDR
- 25% of vitamin B1 IDR
- 24% of magnesium IDR
- 21% of vegetable protein IDR
All these nutrients work to the benefit of various organs and processes in our body, mainly benefiting organs such as the heart, brain and intestine. Besides, these are just the ones that stand out the most. Barley contains many other nutrients, but in lesser amounts.
2. Prevents cancer
As well as being a great source of nutrients, barley is also known to be a great source of gluten. Although many people see gluten as a villain, studies show that this substance is capable of preventing aggressive cancers ( 2 , 3 ).
In short, gluten is often seen as a villain because it is associated with foods that contribute to weight gain, such as breads and pastas. However, it is important to remember that gluten is a natural property and brings benefits.
Since it is not consumed in foods rich in other ingredients that are harmful, gluten can be beneficially consumed through grains such as barley.
3. Lowers cholesterol
On the other hand, those who suffer from high cholesterol levels can solve this problem through the daily consumption of barley. In addition to flavor, barley promotes the benefit of lowering bad cholesterol (LDL) ( 4 ).
According to medicine, magnesium levels and other properties present in barley are able to help inhibit bad cholesterol. In addition, it has benefits for blood pressure and blood circulation.
4. Helps the intestinal flora
Another benefit of barley is its contribution to the intestinal flora. In fact, this is a common benefit of grains and seeds. However, in the case of barley, this advantage is enhanced thanks to some elements of its composition.
Several studies prove that barley has substances and medicinal properties capable of stimulating beneficial intestinal bacteria. Thus, it contributes to greater absorption of nutrients and improvement of the intestinal flora in general ( 5 , 6 , 7 ).
Barley is a great source of non-digestible fibers called prebiotic compounds ( 8 , 9 ). They are natural foods for the beneficial intestinal bacteria responsible for the proper functioning of the intestine and the production of nutrients and properties that are good for the body.
These nutrients include fatty acids (acetate, butyrate and propionate). In general, they are fuel for our cells and one of the main sources of energy for our body, such as glucose and proteins, for example.
First of all, fiber is essential for the proper functioning of the intestine and for the production of healthy stools. Therefore, in addition to being good for the intestinal process, eating barley helps improve the body’s nutrients. Surprising, isn’t it?
5. Lowers blood sugar level
Barley contains a substance called beta-glucan in its composition. This property (in addition to being fundamental for the benefit of lowering cholesterol) is able to reduce the level of sugar in the body ( 10 , 11 ).
With this, barley enters the list of beneficial natural foods for diabetics. However, it is important not to overdo it, as barley has high concentrations of other nutrients that can be harmful if consumed compulsorily.
6. Strengthens the immune system
Last but not least, barley is one of the biggest sources of selenium in nature. This substance strengthens the immune system, helps regulate thyroid functions and is also an antioxidant ( 1 ).
In addition, prebiotics (mentioned above) also help to improve the body’s defenses. They also aid digestion and reduce the absorption of fats and sugars in the body.
Does barley contain gluten?
Yes, barley is one of the main foods known to be a rich source of gluten, as is wheat. However, it is important to emphasize that gluten is not a villain as many imagine. After all, studies have already revealed that this substance prevents cancer and improves digestion ( 2 ).
Gluten is frowned upon solely because it is present in foods that contribute to weight gain and some villains in daily food, such as bread and pasta. However, consuming gluten from natural grains and cereals is good for the body, as long as there is no exaggeration.
Where to buy barley?
At first, the barley produced in Brazil is almost entirely dedicated to the production of beers and other beverages. But it is possible to find barley for consumption in supermarkets and natural food stores.
If you can’t find it in your city or region, you can buy barley through websites specializing in the sale and distribution of natural products.
It is important, however, to observe whether the barley available for purchase is of good origin and natural. In this way, there is a guarantee that you are buying a quality product, which will only bring benefits.
Care and contraindications
First of all, barley should be avoided people who have celiac disease, a disease in which the body is sensitive to gluten . In short, it should not be consumed people allergic to gluten. Symptoms in this case are pain, cramps, diarrhea, fatigue and malaise.
Therefore, consuming gluten (barley, wheat, etc.) increases the risk of heart disease and obesity in celiac patients.
The cultivation of barley in Brazil
Brazil is part of the team of malt producing countries in the world, being considered the largest producer in South America part of international trade. After all, malt is one of the basic ingredients of beer, obtained through biological and chemical processes made with barley.
At first, every Brazilian knows that there are countless beer brands in Brazil. Thus, it is possible to see a commercial on TV, a billboard, etc. at all times. To maintain the production of these beverages, it is necessary to invest in the cultivation and industry of barley/malt in the country.
Among the states known for malt production and barley cultivation are São Paulo, Goiás, Rio de Janeiro and Belo Horizonte.
Since the culture of national barley is basically entirely dedicated to the brewing industry, little is used for the cereal in food. As a result, it is difficult to find the barley to buy. On the other hand, the trade in barley for food has been growing thanks to consumer demand.