All You Need to Know About Barley Grass

Barley grass is also goes by the names ‘barley leaves’ or ‘barley greens’. This is the leaf of the barley plant and carries extensive health benefits. In fact, many consider this as the fourth most important cereal crop in the world. Thus, you can find this in supplements, juices, or powders. In fact, people often mix this in with similar nutritious greens – such as spirulina, kale, and wheatgrass.

Here are a couple of reasons as to why you must add it to your diet.

Nutrient Richness

Barley grass packs in an array of powerful nutrients, and is especially fibre rich (10 grams / teaspoon). For instance, it is rich in vitamins A, C, and K in particular. Firstly, vitamin A which can boost immunity, cell growth, and eye health. Secondly, vitamin C enables skin and oral health, and reduces wound healing time. Thirdly, vitamin K can help with blood clotting, bone formation, and heart health, amongst other benefits. In addition to these, the presence of polyphenols and flavonoids can lower rates of oxidative stress and chronic disease. In other words, they act as antioxidants. As a result, they fight free radical activity and can retain skin elasticity, and ward away breast or colon cancer.

Digestion

The presence of dietary fibre in barley can aid digestion in two ways. First, the presence of insoluble fibres feeds the beneficial bacteria in your gut. This thus helps with efficient food absorption and enables intestinal health. Secondly, the presence of soluble dietary fibres eases the absorption of blood sugars. In this manner, it stabilises your blood sugar and cholesterol levels.

Bone Health

Your bones mainly constitute calcium as a key nutrient. Thus, the presence of calcium can reverse or prevent osteoporosis, rickets, and brittle bones. Further, it can enable teeth health, especially in combination with the phosphorus present in barley grass. Hence, you may use this as a great supplement to other calcium-rich foods, such as green leafy vegetables or dairy products.

Blood Sugar Stabilisation

This herb contains a form of insoluble fibre, implying that it will not dissolve in water. Highly fibrous foods in general came promote satiety and prevent you from overeating or consuming extra calories. Thus, this herb can manage blood sugar and insulin levels. In this manner, your it improves insulin sensitivity. However, there are insufficient studies demonstrating the benefits of barley grass on blood sugar levels. Further, most of these are not up-to-date. More recent studies can help confirm existing findings.

Cardiac Health

Various studies prove the benefits of barley grass on heart health. For instance, one study among 36 diabetic patients shows that taking 15 grams of barley leaf extract can lower rates of LDL (bad) cholesterol, which can increase your risk of heart disease. Further, it contains an array of key compounds – such as saponin, GABA, and tryptophan. So, it is not surprising that it bolsters factors supporting heart health. For instance, one animal study finds that barley leaf essence can lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels among rabbits.

However, many studies are old and some show conflicting results. For instance, one study shows that concentrated barley grass powder does not necessarily have the same effect of barley grass on your diet. Thus, further high quality studies can help to confirm findings.

Weight Loss

Barley grass carries low calories and high fibre levels. Thus, it is a fantastic addition to your diet to promote satiation and prevent overeating. Various studies confirm this too. For instance, one study among 252 women finds that consuming just one gram of fibre everyday with 0.25 kgs of body weight can cause 0,25% of lesser body fat, over the course of 20 months. Similarly, another study of 345 obese or overweight adults finds that those consuming more fibre not only lost more body weight, but could stick to their diets more easily too.

These findings are evident in the case of animals as well. For instance, one study finds that rats consuming barley juice saw lower body weight and BMI than those of the control group. In short, barley grass can ensure steady and effective weight loss.

Risks and Side Effects

There aren’t as many downsides to this herb. However, there are a couple of things you’ll want to keep in mind if you want to consume this regularly. Firstly, barley grass supplements are not always as safe and effective as other drugs or pills. Thus, you need to make sure that you acquire this from a safe supplier. Further, ensure that it has undergone third-party testing and is thus safe from fillers, additives, or artificial ingredients.

Second, some barley grass products may contain high levels of potassium or vitamin K. Although this is generically safe, you must proceed with caution if you consume blood thinners such as warfarin. Excessive vitamin K levels can interfere with the medication. Similarly, this may not be ideal for those with kidney diseases as it can lower potassium intake.

Thirdly, and finally, you should be cautious while purchasing barley grass products if you have a celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. While gluten is only present in seeds of the barley grain, the cross-contamination risk may still cause adverse effects.

Preparing Barley Grass

The most common form to have barley grass is as a juice since the herb itself has a rough texture. If you want to opt for the freshest version available, feel free to grow your own barley grass and juice it once it’s ready. Alternatively, you can buy barley grass powder and mix it in water, or buy the juice directly. There are other ways you can use this raw ingredient creatively as well. For instance, you can add it to smoothies, protein shakes, cocktails, or zucchini bread.

Here’s a simple barley grass smoothie recipe you can make yourself at home. You’ll need barley grass powder (1-2 teaspoons), banana (1 medium), blueberries (148 grams or 1 cup) and milk (237 ml or 1 cup). Simply blend this together and refrigerate it before drinking if you like.

Takeaways

Barley grass is an amazing leafy green which offers you an array of health benefits. For instance, it can enable proper digestion, weight loss, stabilise blood sugars and retain bone and cardiac health. You can consume this as a juice or add it to another beverage or food item. However, make sure to buy this from a proper supplier. Further, be sure to proceed with caution if you use blood thinners or have a history of gluten insensitivity.

Read about the right Ayurvedic treatment for healthy joints here. 

Click here to join us on an Ayurvedic retreat with Mekosha in Kerala. 

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