A recent study from Lund University in Sweden and published in the British Journal of Nutrition reveals that barley can improve diabetes control by reducing blood sugar levels and controlling appetite. Barley contains a certain mix of fibers that are considered “gut-friendly.”
Middle aged study subjects were asked to eat bread containing barley for 3 days. Improvements in metabolism lasted up to 14 hours, including decreases in blood sugar and insulin levels, increases in insulin sensitivity and improved appetite control. When the unique mixture of barley fibers known as beta-glucan reaches the gut, it stimulates the increase of good bacteria and the release of hormones. Some of these important hormones regulate appetite while others help to reduce inflammation-over time this reduction in inflammation could help decrease the chance of heart disease and diabetes.
Previous studies have found that this dietary fiber from barley helps increase the gut bacteria Prevotella copri, regulating blood sugar levels and decreasing the amount of unhealthy gut bacteria.
Here are some tips for including barley in your diet:
- Barley can be used to make delicious salads and in soups and stews
- Replace rice in pilafs and stir fry with barley
- Pearled barley has fewer nutrients than hulled barley
- Use barley flour to replace a portion of wheat flour in bread recipes
- Use as a cooked cereal at breakfast
How to Cook Barley Cereal
- ½ cup pearl barley
- 1¼ cups water
- salt, to taste optional
- Add all ingredients to a medium size sauce pan and bring to a boil. Lower heat to simmer and cook covered until liquid is absorbed- about 30-45 minutes. (Pearl barley cooks in a shorter time than hulled barley whick may take up to 50 minutes to cook.)
- Barley will be tender yet chewy when done. If any liquid is still left in pan, allow to set for 5-10 minutes. Drain any remaining liquid before serving.
- Fluff barley with a fork before serving.
- *Note- if your barley package includes cooking instructions- refer to those for more specific cooking times and liquid amounts.