Barley, often seen as pearl barley is one of my favourite grains to recommend to people to include as part of a healthy diet. Why? Here are my top 5 reasons to eat barley:
1. It is Low GI: Coming in with a GI of just 22, it is one of the lowest GI grains available. Why is this a good thing? Low GI foods provide slow release energy and are very filling. Thus, you will be satisfied from a small portion, for a long time.
2. It is Low GL: GL stands for glycaemic load. This refers to how much carbohydrate there is present in the grain, or how much blood glucose levels will increase from eating the food. For example, watermelon is high GI, but low GL, so the effect on blood glucose levels is relatively small. Barley is low GI and GL, making it an absolute winner!
3. It is versatile: I grew up with barley mainly included in lamb, vegetable and barley soup (still a favourite by the way, thanks Mum!). Soups aren't the only place to find it though. Barley can be used in salads, instead of rice, as part of some breakfast cereals, breads and wraps, or as a porridge in the morning... get creative!
4. It is wheat free: I work with lots of people with wheat intolerance. Though barley contains gluten, this doesn't matter for that group of people. It is fantastic to be able to whole heartedly recommend a grain that ticks so many boxes.
5. The texture is fantastic: It is nice and chewy, adding great texture to the meals it is added into. And due to it's chewiness, for those who eat quickly, it means you almost have to eat slowly!
Apart from these fantastic characteristics, barley is also low in calories, coming in at only 100Cal per 100g (approx. 2/3 cup, cooked), so is great for managing weight.
I'd love to hear how you eat barley!
Chloe McLeod is a dietitian at BJC Health.
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