Barley is one of the oldest cultivated plants globally and has been the primary food of animals and humans. The scientific name of barley is Hordeum vulgare L. It is a cereal plant species in the Hordeum genus and Poaceae family. Hordeum vulgare, or cultivated barley, is primarily farmed for animal feed, particularly for pigs, malting and brewing in beer production, distillation in whisky production and food.

Barley comes in several varieties, each having various grains per spike, ranging from summer to winter barley. Due to the poor quality of the grain, winter barley is mainly used in animal feed. The green barley essence is made by dehydrating fresh green barley juice at low temperatures, which keeps the enzymes active.

The seed coat, pericarp, and aleurone are the outer layers of the barley kernel, which envelop the grain entirely. Hordeum species can be found in most Mediterranean climate zones. The genus is also found in areas with oceanic and continental environments. Compared to other tiny grains, barley has a high tolerance to dry heat.

Barley comes in three varieties:

  • Hordeum vulgare: six-row barley with three spikelet’s on each notch and a spike notched on opposite sides. Each notch has a flower or floret that later grows into a kernel
  • Hordeum distichum: two-row barley with fertile central florets and sterile lateral florets
  • Hordeum irregular: the least farmed barley with fertile central florets and varied proportions of fertile and sterile lateral florets. When green barley reaches a height of 20-30 cm, it has the best nutritious resources for humans.

Green barley leaves are used for the management of anaemia, cystitis (inflammation of the urinary bladder), rheumatism (inflammation and pain in joints, muscles or fibrous tissue), diarrhoea, cough, haemorrhoids (piles), flu, depression and dermatological (skin) conditions. Barley is also known for its remineralising, anti-inflammatory, and hypotensive properties.

Nutritional Value of Barley:

The nutritional value of barley is:

Carbohydrate (%)57.9 ± 5.1
Dietary fibre (%)29.5 ± 15.5
Protein (%)27.3 ± 4.3
Fat (%)4.57 ± 1.31
Vitamin A (mg/100 g)20.5 ± 4.7
Vitamin B1 (mg/100 g)0.61 ± 0.40
Vitamin B2 (mg/100 g)1.56 ± 0.65
Vitamin B3 (mg/100 g)7.18 ± 7.39
Vitamin B6 (mg/100 g)1.12 ± 0.97
Vitamin B12 (mg/100 g)1.16 ± 0.26
Vitamin C (mg/100 g)251.6 ± 239.1
Vitamin E (mg/100 g)15.0 ± 14.1
Sodium (mg/100 g)328.2 ± 288.4
Calcium (mg/100 g)479.4 ± 172.5
Phosphorus (mg/100 g)380.4 ± 60.7
Chromium (mg/100 g)0.14 ± 0.06
Copper (mg/100 g)1.66 ± 1.25
Sulphur (mg/100 g)305.5 ± 6.4
Iron (mg/100 g)23.3 ± 10.1
Magnesium (mg/100 g)183.2 ± 46.0
Manganese (mg/100 g)3.94 ± 1.56
Molybdenum (mg/100 g)0.048 ± 0.006
Potassium (mg/100 g)3384 ± 649
Zinc (mg/100 g)3.43 ± 1.36
Table 1: Nutrients found in Barley

Benefits of Barley:

1. Benefits of Barley for sleep:

Barley grass powder contains a high amount of gamma-aminobutyric acid (a brain chemical), calcium, potassium, and tryptophan (amino acid). It is a very good functional food, making it an excellent sleep promoter. Barley grass powder has a higher gamma-aminobutyric acid, calcium, and potassium concentration than polished rice. Polished rice or wheat flour and barley and their products are effective foods for enhancing sleep in individuals.

2. Benefits of Barley for diabetes:

Barley and its extract have been shown to scavenge oxygen free radicals and promote health in diabetes patients. Its dietary fibre lowers fasting blood sugar and blood glucose levels significantly. Flavonoids in barley can help people with diabetes manage their post-meal blood glucose levels.

Fasting blood sugar and glycated haemoglobin are reduced by barley grass powder. Under stress, polyamines in barley cells can increase and have an insulin-like effect.

3. Benefits of Barley for blood lipids:

Literature suggests that whole grains high in viscous soluble fibre, such as barley, are more successful than other grains in decreasing blood lipids. The delayed intestinal absorption of lipids is one of the proposed mechanisms of cholesterol reduction after eating barley. Additionally, cholesterol absorption and reabsorption are inhibited. The capacity of barley to increase the viscosity of the intestinal contents is assumed to be the cause of its lipid-lowering effects.

Total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels are reduced by barley grass powder, whereas high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels are significantly increased. By lowering cholesterol production, hexacosanol in barley leaf can enhance cholesterol metabolism. Fat, polysaccharides, protein, vitamins, minerals, and polyphenols are all found in barley sprouts, and they all have a lipid-lowering effect.

Green barley can prevent atherosclerosis by modulating lipid metabolism and resisting lipid peroxidation.

4. Benefits of Barley for gout:

Barley grass lowers blood uric acid and has several health benefits for humans related to faeces metabolism, lipid metabolism, liver function, and antioxidant system. A fermented barley extract can reduce the uric acid in the condition of gout (a form of arthritis). A fermented barley extract boosts urine excretion and lowers the serum uric acid.

5. Benefits of Barley for immunity:

The polysaccharide content of young barley leaves is responsible for immunomodulatory, as well as macrophage (a type of white blood cell) stimulatory function.

6. Benefits of Barley for the liver:

The liver protective activity of barley sprouts containing abundant flavonoid was tested on an animal model that exhibited inhibition of inflammatory response. In in-vitro and in- vivo experiments, a flavonoid in barley sprouts showed liver protective and antioxidant effects against liver injury.

7. Benefits of Barley for the brain:

The antidepressant action of young barley leaf has been studied. It regulated the brain levels of nerve growth factors (insulin-like protein, which regulates the growth and development of neurons).

Barley contains vitamins and minerals to help prevent stress-related psychiatric problems, including depression. Barley green leaves, rich in vitamins and minerals, showed memory-enhancing effects.

8. Benefits of Barley for gastrointestinal tract:

By activating the gut system and decreasing the pH, young barley leaf powder with water-insoluble dietary fibre can increase faecal volume and laxative activity. Barley is used to manage ulcerative colitis, pancreatitis, and other gastrointestinal tract problems.

By stimulating the growth of probiotics, a germinated barley foodstuff helps to manage ulcerative colitis and relieve the symptoms. According to animal studies, selenium-rich barley grass had a significant alleviating effect on stomach ulcers.

In drug-treated rats, the dietary fibre of germinated barley relieves constipation by causing the proliferation of colonic crypts (glands in the colon).

9. Benefits of Barley for cancer:

The combined effects of high alkalinity, a powerful antioxidant, phytochemicals, flavonoids, and chlorophyll in barley hinder cancer cell development. The phytochemical combinations of barley have a perfect anticancer effect against breast cancer.

Green barley extract exhibits anticancer properties due to its antiproliferative and cell-killing effects in human leukaemia (white blood cell cancer), lymphoma (lymphatic system cancer), and breast cancer cells.

10. Benefits of Barley for inflammation:

Barley is used for managing gastrointestinal tract diseases, pancreatitis, and ulcerative colitis because it has anti-inflammatory characteristics and repairs the intestinal lining. Flavonoid, a functional element of the natural anti-inflammatory process, is derived from barley sprouts.

Barley extract, which has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, can be utilised as a natural medicine to manage rheumatoid arthritis in patients by scavenging reactive oxygen species and lowering tumour necrosis factor-alpha (inflammatory mediator) production in the patients’ blood and synovial fluid.

11. Benefits of Barley as an antioxidant:

Barley is one of the most stress-tolerant crops producing tocopherol, glutathione, and succinate in its flag leaf. Flavonoids found in barley grass have potent antioxidant properties that can help to prevent diseases induced by oxidative stress, such as inflammation, cancer, and cardiovascular disease.

Barley leaves extracted with methanol and ethanol could be alternative synthetic antioxidants in the food industry. Barley leaf powder can be added to raw minced pork as a natural ingredient to prevent oxidation.

12. Benefits of Barley on the heart:

Antioxidants present in barley may help prevent cardiovascular ailments. Barley can help avoid thrombosis (blocking of blood vessels due to blood clots) and cardiovascular disease by improving blood viscosity and flow.

13. Benefits of Barley in fatigue and hypoxia:

Flavones found in barley have anti hypoxia (deficient oxygen supply to tissues) and anti-fatigue properties in humans. According to animal studies, the barley seedling significantly affects anti-fatigue in mice, particularly during tiring swimming and anti-anoxic time (total oxygen level depletion), reducing blood glucose and stomach ulcers.

14. Benefits of Barley for the skin:

Atopic dermatitis (red and itchy skin) was managed by a combination of fermented barley extract and gamma-aminobutyric acid by regulating the lymphocytes balance in an animal model.

15. Benefits of Barley for the bone:

In health and disease, calcium homeostasis is critical for physiological and pathophysiological reasons. Osteoporosis can be prevented or managed by eating barley due to its higher calcium content.

How to Use Barley?

Barley can be used as:

  • Barley grass powder
  • Biscuits
  • Breads
  • Barley water
  • Barley tea
  • Barley flour
  • Broth

Precautions to Take with Barley:

The safety of barley in pregnant and breastfeeding women has not been studied. Therefore, it should only be taken under the supervision and advice of a physician. Likewise, no research has been done on the safety of barley in children.

Interactions With Other Drugs:

There is not much information available on how barley interacts with other medications. Hence, one should consult a doctor before taking barley if they take any other drug or supplement.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What is barley?

The scientific name of barley is Hordeum vulgare L. It is a cereal plant species in the Hordeum genus and Poaceae family.

Is barley good for people with diabetes?

Yes, it is useful for the management of diabetes. The dietary fibre and flavonoids in barley help lower the fasting blood sugar and blood glucose levels in diabetic patients.

How to eat barley?

Barley can be eaten in various forms like barley grass powder, barley biscuits, barley bread,barley water,barley tea, barley flour,and barley broth.

Is barley good for weight loss?

Yes, it is helpful for weight loss. Fats, polysaccharides, proteins, vitamins, minerals, and polyphenols are all found in barley sprouts and have a lipid-lowering effect.

What are the uses of barley?

Barley is used for the management of anaemia, cystitis, rheumatism, diarrhoea, cough, haemorrhoids, flu, depression, dermatological conditions, inflammation, nausea, mouth sores, digestive problems, elevated blood sugar levels, low immunity, acne, cancer, elevated lipid levels, gout, hyperuricemia, fatigue, hypoxia, and constipation.

What is barley water?

Water is usually added to the barley grains, and the entire mixture is boiled at a high temperature. The water is collected from the combination when it has cooled. This is known as barley water.

Does barley contain gluten?

No, gluten is a protein absent in barley.

Is barley high in potassium?

Yes, barley is high in potassium content (3384 mg/100 g of barley).

What is the scientific name of barley?

The scientific name of barleyis Hordeum vulgare.

What is barley tea?

A by-product of the barley crop is barley tea. It comprises roasted kernels soaked in hot or cold beverages and then consumed as water with or without food. It has a delicious flavour and is very nutritious for humans.

What are the benefits of barley grass?

Barley grass has several properties like sleep-promoting, antidiabetic, blood pressure- lowering, immunity enhancing, liver-protecting, anti-acne, antidepressant, improving gastrointestinal function, anticancer, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, hypolipidemic, antigout, hypoxia preventing. It is also used for managing cardiovascular diseases, fatigue, constipation, atopic dermatitis, and improving cognition.3\

Does barley have protein?

Yes, barley contains 27 % of proteins.

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