Barley is a refreshing drink that can be consumed cold in hot weather or warm in cold weather. You can drink it plain as barley water or add a squeeze of lime for a zesty taste that is delicious and refreshing. These healthy grains have a nutlike flavour and chewy texture. Barley is widely available in stores and restaurants. It is a versatile grain as it is not only used in beverages, but is also used for bread, cereals, and meals like stews or mixed with salad.
What is Barley?
Barley is an edible cereal grain that is widely available across the globe. Globally, it is the fourth-largest grain crop after wheat, rice, and corn. Although it is primarily grown as animal fodder, it was commonly used for manufacturing beer, bread, stews and other food products.
Barley usually comes in two primary forms, either hulled or pearl. Hulled barley is the most nutritious with light golden-brown colour and can be considered as a whole grain. Pearl barley is the polished version which results in a pale, creamy coloured grain and is not considered as whole grain as it removes the outer layer of bran.
It cooks faster, is less nutritious and contains less fibre. Hulled barley has a chewier consistency, requires more prolonged soaking, and cooking time due to its outer bran layer. Thus, the pearl barley version is more commonly used to make beverages and soups. The lesser-known barley forms are malted barley, barley flakes, barley flour, and barley grits.
History of Barley
Barley has been around for more than 10 000 years. The exact origin of the grain is debatable, as the origins could be from Egypt, Ethiopia, or Tibet. It was initially used as food for animals and humans, and then widely used in the making of alcoholic beverages.
Besides, barley water has been used for various medicinal purposes in ancient civilisations. In the Middle Ages, barley was widely used to make bread. This is because wheat was very expensive and not readily available.
Health Benefits of Barley
Barley contains essential nutrients that have been proven to provide many health benefits. Barley has high fibre content which can help prevent constipation and boost the health of your digestive system. This fibre provides food for ‘friendly’ bacteria that help maintain a healthy colon.
Besides that, fibre is also known to increase satiety and reduce appetite, thus barley aids in maintaining a healthy weight. Also, fibre helps lower cholesterol levels in the blood, thus decreasing the risk of heart disease.
Barley also contains potassium, folate and vitamin B6, which helps support a healthy heart. Besides that, it also contains vitamin B3, which helps protect blood vessels from free radicals and reduces potential cardiovascular event. The contents of iron, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, and zinc in barley contribute to healthy bone structure and strength.
For those with diabetes, barley is a better breakfast choice compared to oats as it helps to stabilise cholesterol levels. Barley is high in magnesium that helps in reducing both glucose and insulin responses. Last but not least, it is also a good source of selenium which is said to reduce the risk of colon cancer significantly.
The selenium also works with vitamin E for the various vital antioxidant systems in the body, which not only helps prevent cancer but also decreases the symptoms of asthma and arthritis.
Where to find Barley in Malaysia
This refreshing drink is widely available in any restaurants in Malaysia. You can have it for breakfast at Aromavillage (Nu Sentral, KL) or at any time of the day from Uncle Chong’s Local Delights (Bukit Jalil).
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