Barley is a staple food item harvested from the barley plant. Scientifically represented as Hordeum vulgare, it is an annual grass-like plant cultivated all over the world. It is probably the oldest known food grain, which dates back to the Stone Age. As per crop production statistics, it is among the top five most grown cereal crops. High yielding and non-shattering barley varieties are bred commercially with an aim to increase the crop production worldwide.
The versatility of barley is incomparable to other food grains. Indeed there is hardly any other edible item that has as many uses as barley. It is most commonly used as a base for brewing beer and other fermented beverages. While serving breakfast, barley makes delectable soups, casseroles, breads, and cakes. Also, the straw and grains are fed as fodder to domesticated animals. Not only barley is versatile, but it is healthy too. Various studies are being done on barley nutrition, all of which show impressive results.
Barley Nutrition Value
Based on pretreatment, barley is of two main types - whole or hull barley (having intact bran) and pearled or hull-less barley (without hull and bran). Apart from these, it is sold in textures of flake, grit, and flour. Among these, nutritional value of barley is found to be highest in the whole type, which is also known as Scotch barley. Discussed below are the calorie count and nutritional value of 1 cup cooked pearled barley (157 gram):
The total calories in barley (1 cup, cooked) is 193. In detail, the calories in barley are contributed by carbohydrates (175 calories), fats (5.8 calories) and protein (12.6 calories). Having 1 cup cooked barley is sufficient to meet 10 percent of the daily calories required by an adult.
Carbohydrate and Fat Content
Similar to other cereal grains, barley is also rich in carbohydrates. The amount of carbohydrate present in 1 cup barley is 44.3 gram, which is equivalent to 15 percent the daily requirement for adults. Speaking about fats, the same amount of barley contains 1 gram fat.
Barley is remarkable for its high dietary fiber content. Serving 1 cup cooked barley makes up to 24 percent of the daily needs, which accounts to about 6 gram. This high fiber content is the main reason why, barley is prescribed for individuals having bowel related medical conditions.
One cup serving of cooked barley provides about 3.5 gram of proteins. This corresponds to 7 percent of the daily protein needed by an individual. However, this protein value may differ based on the type of barley being used.
Vitamins and Mineral Content
Barley contains vitamin A, B1, B2, B6, B12, C, D, E, and K in different amounts. Coming to mineral content in barley, it includes calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, selenium, and various other minerals that are required in trace amounts.
Barley also contains copper mineral, which is rarely found in other food sources. In the body, copper is associated with several enzymatic actions, which strengthen blood vessels, bones, and joints. Consuming 1 cup cooked barley provides approximately 32.0 percent of the daily copper requirement for a healthy adult.
Barley Health Benefits
The health benefits of barley are mainly attributed to presence of high percentage of fiber and negligible amount of saturated fat. The high fiber content help maintain the intestinal health, thus, minimizing risks of digestion problems, hemorrhoids, and other intestine disorders. Being very low in sodium and cholesterol content, most physicians recommend barley for heart patients. It is claimed that consuming barley regularly is effective for lowering cholesterol and maintaining blood sugar levels.