Barley is a wholesome grain that is necessary for optimal health. Barley is a cereal grain that is part of the grass family. It originated in Ethiopia and Southeast Asia over 10,000 years ago. It is mentioned in the Old Testament as one of the species of plants that is found in The Promised Land. The ancient Greeks used it to make bread and the Romans fed it to their Gladiators as their main food for strength. The Chinese use to regard it as a symbol of male virility. In 1324 King Edward II used is as the standard for the inch. He compared it to three grains of barley. It made it to the US by the 17th century.

Barley has an intense nutty flavor and a pasta like consistency. This wholesome grain is the 4th most important and produced cereal crop in the world. It has been utilized as a major animal fodder and it has been added to a lot of health foods. Sprout barley is high in a sugar called maltose and is used as a sweetener. When it is fermented it is used in beer and whiskey. The oldest wine recipe made from barley dates back to 2800 B.C. Because of a mutation in genes, there are 2 types of barley. Wild barley has a spike that breaks apart during maturity and spreads it's seeds. Domesticated barley spike remain intact upon maturity making it easily harvested. Barley is also processed in several different ways. First there is hulled barley which is considered a true whole grain. The hull has been carefully removed to preserve the bran and germ. Even though this takes the longest to cook, this is the one that you want to look for in the store for the greatest nutritional benefit. There is also pot barley that has been dehulled, but a lot of the grain remains. The last is pearled barley that has been polished without regard for the grain. It has the shortest cooking time. Unfortunately, it is the type that is widely available in the US. So when you purchase your barley consider these difference carefully.

Barley is a wholesome grain that provides more fiber than any other grain. One cup provides over 54% of the required daily intake. It also provides 52% of selenium which is a powerful antioxidant. It contains eight essential amino acids, and it is a great source of tryptophan, copper, manganese, and phosphorus.

The health benefits of barley are numerous. It improves colon health, reduces cholesterol, helps regulate blood sugar, and decreases free radicals. It can help in lowering blood pressure, reducing the risk of heart disease, and cancer. It also helps in preventing atherosclerosis and stenosis. Studies suggest it benefits patients with gallstones, asthma, and arthritis. There are many more benefits. Pick some up today and add it in your next homemade soup.