Comfort food and ancient grain, the Superfood, Barley, has something for everybody.
I'm biased about Barley. My mother came from Scotland so I was brought up on Barley Soup, called "Scotch broth" by many!
Whatever it's called this delicious soup got us through cold winters and was something to look forward to
Its versatility means that Barley is eaten as stew or soup in some countries and made into bread or even beer in others.
Barley seems to have originated in East Africa and spread to Europe, the Middle East and even Tibet. So Barley has been a staple crop for millions and archaeological remains have been dated back as far as 8500 BC.
What Is Pearly About Barley?
Are you taking pot luck when buying Barley?
Although there are many varieties of barley – as many as any other grain, shops usually have Pearl Barley for sale and no other!
Which is a shame because I prefer to buy whole grains and not the "refined" slightly less nutritious offering.
Wholegrain barley is usually called Pot barley and sometimes Scotch Barley. And has most of the bran and germ whereas Pearl Barley has most of the bran removed.
Both taste good and are a healthy nutritious grain with a good supply of B vitamins as well as Vitamin K and minerals such as Magnesium, Potassium and Selenium.
In addition the high fibre and lignans content in barley nourishes not just us but interestingly, our own gut bacteria too. This sounds odd I guess but helps us stay healthy and in particular helps our immune system.
The Cholesterol Controversy
One of the major benefits of barley is its ability to lower cholesterol levels. It is not that cholesterol by itself is bad or unhealthy, if that were true why would we be making cholesterol every day?
The liver makes cholesterol daily because we need it. It functions as a kind of basic building block so that the body can make hormones and other essential and natural chemicals.
The problem with the cholesterol for most of us is that our poor diet has so few anti-oxidants that the cholesterol gets oxidised and damaged.
When damaged cholesterol is seriously dangerous. It can then go on as it circulates in the bloodstream irritate, inflame and damage the inner lining of our arteries, which paves the way to high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, heart attacks, stroke and even erectile dysfunction.
Now I am not saying that eating barley for lunch will fix all this. Other grains, beans and vegetables all play their part in adding healthy fibre to the diet and the more fruit and vegetables we eat the less "room" there is in our diet for the seriously unhealthy foods.
This is not fashion or opinion; there is a huge amount of science behind this – an effective way to upgrade our health into the future is to increase our intake of fruit, vegetables and grains. Of course if you having a proven allergy to any food then you need to avoid it. We have a lot of variety to choose from and a healthy diet is most often pretty inexpensive.
Whether we eat cholesterol containing food – meat, fish, chicken and so on we raise the amount of cholesterol circulating in our blood and if we have low levels of anti-oxidant vitamins in our diet we face greater risk of the cholesterol being damaged which harms us.
This happens slowly.
Autopsies show that damaged arteries occur even with youngsters. It is due to wrongheaded ideas about, "What is good for us", what is "Real food" and so on. Having these foolish notions is costly and costs many their health and their life.
Barley is An Ancient Grain
I love Barley and you may not. But we all need to find a diet that we love and which loves us.
I write about many other fabulous heathy foods and even simple foods that we take for granted like the humble potato are an important part in our healthy diet. Due to food advertising we have become confused about what is a good food and what is not.
It is not true that all our traditional foods are bad for us.
Barley is traditional, so are oats, potatoes, green leafy vegetables and just about every fruit you can name. But the processed foods, especially those containing sugar are gradually being singled out as problematic which gives us the chance to improve our health and extend our life by removing risky foods from our diet.
Something nutritious needs to go in place of any unhealthy options and one of the healthy choices for you is Barley – soup, casserole or bread.
Have a look at the recipes and see what you can make…