Pearl barley is the barley seeds from the hordeum vulgare plants or grass. The hull or the barley grains are removed otherwise it can't be eaten. The dehulled barley is then steam processed to remove the bran. Further processing or polishing called pearling is done and this makes the barley grain more chewable and faster to cook.
Even though the bran is removed, the barley still contains both soluble and insoluble dietary fibers. It also contains carbohydrates, proteins, vitamin A, K and several of the B vitamins including folate, niacin and choline. The minerals and trace elements present are calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, zinc copper, manganese and selenium.
The dietary fiber helps support normal cholesterol levels which benefits the heart and may reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Fiber is also known to speed up removal of waste from the bowel and colon and help in preventing constipation.
A cup of about 157g of barley contains 21mg of choline. Choline is beneficial for cardiovascular and liver health as well as brain functions. Folate or vitamin B9 helps to regulate the formation of red blood cell and assist iron in the body to function effectively. One of the benefits of niacin or vitamin B3 is to support healthy cholesterol levels.
The amount of phosphorus is about two times higher compared to other cereals. Phosphorus assists calcium in strengthening the bones, maintains kidney health and regulates fluid levels in the body.
Selenium has antioxidant properties. It helps prevent cellular damage caused by free radicals. It may also support cardiovascular health and strengthens the immune system.
A cup of barley contains about 146mg of potassium. Potassium helps in muscle contraction, proper kidney function, the production of energy and it also supports normal blood pressure.
There are several ways to add barley to your diet. You can make barley water is made by boiling barley seeds with water. Syrup or any kind of sweetener is usually added to sweeten it. You can also add it to fruit juices such as lemon or orange. Drinking barley water may help as a remedy for gastric ulcer and duodenal ulcer.
You can add barley seeds to stews, vegetable soups, porridge and even rice.