Barley Efficacy

Among whole grains, barley is one of the best sources of a phytochemical called tocols. This chemical may lower cholesterol and triglycerides, which helps reduce the risk for heart disease and stroke. In addition, barley contains soluble fiber, beta-glucans, which slow down digestion and make you feel full longer.

The high fiber content in unstrained barley water improves your metabolism, which might help with weight loss as part of a healthy diet. Plus, it can help control blood sugar spikes, which is especially important for those with diabetes. Early research conducted with mice also suggests that barley releases an appetite-suppressing hormone in the gut. But more research is needed to see if this also works in humans.

Eating foods that are high in soluble fiber can also help prevent gallstones. Gallstones are solid particles that form in the gallbladder, a small organ located under the liver. The gallbladder produces bile acids that help your body digest fats. In one 16-year study, women who ate the most dietary fiber were 13% less likely to develop gallstones that required surgery to remove the gallbladder. The soluble fiber in barley can help prevent gallstones by slowing the absorption of fat and cholesterol from your digestive tract.

Another benefit of barley is its soluble fiber, which can help reduce your cholesterol levels by binding with bile acids and removing them from the body. In one study, when people with high cholesterol ate a serving of barley a day, it significantly lowered their total and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels as well as their triglyceride levels.

To increase your dietary intake of soluble fiber, try eating more foods like barley, oatmeal, beans and lentils. You can also drink more barley water, but make sure to avoid bottled beverages that have added sugars and preservatives, which can negate some of the health benefits.

To make your own barley water, cook up a pot of unstrained barley and add rock sugar or preserved winter melon for flavor if desired. You can also sweeten it with honey, maple syrup, palm jaggery, coconut sugar or any other natural sweetener. Just remember that although it’s low in calories, a single glass of unsweetened barley water is high in carbs. So be careful about how much you drink, and if you have a medical condition, speak to your doctor before adding it to your diet.