Barley's been feeding humans for millennia, though it fell out of favor during the last one as people came to see it as low-brow peasant fare. It's most often used in soups and stews, where it serves as both a puffy grain and a thickener, but it also makes a nice side dish or salad. At most markets, you'll have to choose between two types of barley. Hulled barley is the most nutritious, since only the tough outer hulls are polished off. Pearl barley is polished some more, so that the outer bran layer is also scrubbed off. It's less nutritious, but more popular since it's not as chewy as hulled barley and it cooks faster.
Hulled barley or "whole grain" barley has only the outer husk (hull) removed and is the most nutritious form of barley, since the bran and germ are left intact. You can substitute hulled barley for pearled barley in virtually any recipe, but keep in mind that it will take closer to two hours to cook, considerably longer than the 45 minutes needed for pearled. You may want to cook hulled barley in a separate pot and add it into recipes at the end, to avoid adjusting other cooking times. You can also serve it on its own with simple seasoning as a side dish or in grain salads.
Barley, especially in whole-grain form (hulled) is an excellent grain to add to your repertoire. It is more flavourful and has a chewier texture than white rice, with a more subtle flavour than brown rice.
Barley is versatile: like oats, it is an excellent source of soluble fibre, which can help in lowering blood cholesterol levels. Hulled barley, the most whole-grain variety, is high in thiamin and fibre. The more widely-eaten pearled barley, which is a refined version of the grain, has less iron, manganese, phosphorus, and thiamin. Yet it is still quite nutritious.
One serving of 1/2 cup cooked barley provides 97 calories, 1.8 g protein, 0.4 g fat, 3 g fibre. One cup of whole grain barley flour provides nearly 15 g fibre and 2 g fat.
Whole grain (hulled) barley contains high levels of numerous vitamins and minerals, includingcalcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, vitamin A, vitamin E, niacin and folate.
Barley is known for being a very good source of fiber and selenium, and a good source of phosphorus, copper and manganese. Barley helps to lower your cholesterol, risk of colon cancer and is an excellent food choice for people suffering for Type 2 Diabetes.
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