Barley is a type of cereal grain that’s similar to wheat but lighter in color.1 The plant is found across the world and cultivated in the western and southern United States.2 In Middle East countries, people eat almost as much barley as they do rice.2 Barley can be fermented and used in alcoholic beverages like beer.1 It’s also used in various types of breads, soups, and stews and made into a malt that’s used in beer, flavored beverages, and certain candies.2 Outside of human consumption, barley can be fed to livestock.2 Both the straw and grains are used.2
Barley is packed with healthy nutrients. It contains high levels of manganese, selenium, phosphorus, magnesium, and B vitamins.1 The B vitamin niacin helps decrease overall cholesterol and reduce the risk of atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries.1 It also contains 13 grams of fiber per cup, which can help with conditions like constipation, gout, and arthritis.3 Its insoluble fiber content also helps lower your risk of gallstones.1 Not only that, but the fiber in barley is said to help promote beneficial gut bacteria, which can reduce metabolism and appetite and lower the risk of heart disease and diabetes.3 It’s especially beneficial for heart and cardiovascular health in postmenopausal women, and it even contains anti-inflammatory properties.1,3 Barley benefits a wide range of conditions, including:
Barley is considered safe to take in normal food amounts. However, individuals with Celiac disease or other gluten intolerances should avoid barley since it contains the protein gluten.4 Do not use barley as a substitute for prescribed medications without seeking counsel from your physician first. Talk to your doctor about any other medications, supplements, or herbs you’re taking to ensure a barley home remedy won’t interact with them.