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Health benefits and side effects of Barley

Barley is a cereal grain originated in Ethiopia and Southeast Asia and is used as a staple food in many countries. When sprouted the maltose (a carbohydrate) in barley is used as a natural sweetener and serves as a basis for malt sugar sweetener. When fermented, barley is used as a product in preparation of alcoholic beverages, including beer production.

Barley and health

  1. Barley is rich in certain vitamins and minerals like phosphorus, copper, manganese, selenium and is also rich in fiber. On this basis these are the health benefits offered by barley.
  2. The dietary fiber in barley not only provides bulk, but also decreases the transit time of the fecal matter and thus decreases the risk of colon cancer and hemorrhoids.
  3. Propionic acid and acetic acid are produce during the metabolism of fiber.
    Propionic acid along with beta glucan in the dietary fiber and niacin helps to lower cholesterol levels (especially LDL cholesterol) in the body.
  4. Selenium present in barley also helps to decrease the oxidative stress in the body by scavenging the free radicals and thus creates a healthy environment internally.
  5. A meal rich in barley may improve glucose tolerance and also prevent rising of blood glucose levels in people with diabetes.
  6. Barleys high content of soluble fiber also helps to prevent gall stones.
  7. Barley is matured to get germinated food stuff, which can be used in ulcerative colitis cure.
  8. To derive maximum health benefits from this cereal, consume recommended amounts at least 6 times a weak.

Side effects of barley

  1. Non-allergic, healthy adults can tolerate barley well in recommended doses for a short period in the form of cereal or alcoholic beverages.
  2. People with celiac diseases (allergy to wheat and wheat products) may develop gastrointestinal upsets with consumption of barley or its products.
  3. People with hypoglycemia and on drugs for the same should consume barley with a word of caution, as it may lower the blood sugar levels further.
  4. Individuals allergic from exposure of barley flour may develop eyes, nasal or sinus irritation or can get bakers asthma.
  5. Skin rash or skin irritation can occur due to contact with malt in the beer.
  6. Barley is deficient in many vitamins, so it is not advisable for women with pregnancy, lactating women and infants as they can develop vitamin deficiencies.
  7. Sympathetic nervous system is stimulated by a chemical in the root of developing barley (hordenine).
Consult a health care professional to establish recommended amounts for one and consume barley for its varied health benefits.

Submitted on February 24, 2009