Bring on the Barley: Why it’s time to reinvent the ancient grain of juar or barley
Bringing back barley to your plates rather than your beer mugs is a delicious decision you need to take this summer.
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Barley... do you remember? Well, this ancient grain, called 'Jaun' in Hindi, has almost disappeared from our plates. Most people I ask don’t even remember when they had it last and associate it mostly with beer — and that’s a pity because there’s a lot going for this chewy grain.
For starters, it’s loaded with nutrients such as manganese, selenium, phosphorus, copper, magnesium, iron, zinc, potassium and some calcium too. Calcium, copper and phosphorous help keep the bones in good shape, iron improves blood volume and prevents anaemia and fatigue, and selenium helps preserve skin elasticity, thereby protecting it against free radical damage.
Moreover, it also improves our heart, pancreas and immune system functioning. Plus, it is a rare vegetarian grain source of complete protein — it has all eight essential amino acids.
Bring on the barley! It is time for a barley renaissance. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
An excellent source of both soluble and insoluble fibre, it delivers good gut health (say yes to no constipation!) and good overall health too in the long term. It is a better grain for blood glucose management due to its low glycemic index value. Plus it has beta-glucan fibre which significantly reduces glucose and insulin levels, and also keeps the LDL (bad) cholesterol down. The insoluble fibre it has helps reduce bile acid secretion, thereby increasing insulin sensitivity and lowering the triglyceride levels too. Add to that, it also yields propionic acid that helps keep blood cholesterol levels low.
Barley contains certain types of phytonutrients known as plant lignans, which help prevent breast and other hormonal cancers as well as coronary heart diseases.
Plus eating a cup of cooked barley a few times a week is enough to help keep your mood in check.
Finally, it is an excellent source of fibre, so it is a great option for those seeking to lose weight as it tends to fill you up for a longer time — thus cutting down on your food intake and keeping cravings at bay.
Barley ki baari: Barley is loaded with nutrients that are essential for your gut health. (Photo: Reuters)
Barley has a rich nutlike flavour and an appealing chewy, pasta-like consistency. You can whip it into stir-fries or salads. Since it takes about 40 minutes to cook, you can make a big batch of it and then eat it for breakfast with walnuts and a dash of cinnamon, or make it savoury for lunch topped with a fried egg and some sauce. Eating a cup of cooked barley a few times a week is enough to help keep your mood in check. You can even make rotis with barley flour for a change.
Detox with Barley grass
These are the young soft green shoots which crop up on the barley plant. Its nutrient-dense profile and multidimensional benefits make it a brilliant addition to our diet. These young leaves are rich in minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, enzymes and amino acids and deliver some fibre too. The biggest benefit though is the high level of chlorophyll and beta carotene they have — which work like a mop and help detoxify the body of harmful toxins.
Have it: extract a juice or mix barley grass powder with water and sip. You can add it to soups too.
Keep cool with Barley Water
It is effective when your kidneys need rest from excessive stress and is great for people suffering from kidney and bladder ailments. But that’s not all. According to Ayurveda, it is an excellent diuretic, which cures urinary tract infections (UTI) and also helps the body to keep cool during the summers.
Have it: It can be enjoyed both hot or cold, and drank as is or flavoured with lemon. To make boil water and pearl barley for 30 min, add salt, cool, strain and add some lemon juice, and a little bit of honey (optional).