High in fibre, barley is also a kidney cleanser. Better yet, regular intake of it helps prevent heart disease.
BARLEY water was always a regular drink when we were still living at home. Whenever we had to go for a medical exam that included a urine test, my mum would make us drink barley water a day before the test to make sure we got a positive result!
My mother was a wise woman. I later found out from an Australian naturopath that barley is known to be a kidney cleanser, and he happily downed glasses of it at a meal we had in a coffee shop here.
Barley is good for your intestinal health too. Try to eat the barley grains you find in your drink or sweet broth with fu chook (beancurd skin) and ginkgo nuts.
It's high in fibre which feeds the friendly bacteria in the colon and helps speed up the transit of fecal matter in it. In this way it helps prevent haemorrhoids and colon cancer.
The propionic acid and beta glucan from barley's insoluble fibre also help lower cholesterol and prevent the formation of gallstones.
Eating barley regularly is a preventive step against heart disease as, besides the fibre content, it is also high in niacin, a B vitamin good for lowering cholesterol.
Diabetics should eat more barley as the fibre will prevent blood sugar levels from rising too high. It also provides relief from constipation or diarrhoea for those suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
Barley is rich in selenium which prevents cancer and relieves symptoms of asthma and arthritis. It is a good source of manganese, copper and phosphorous.
Malt sugar comes from sprouted barley which, when fermented, is an ingredient in beer and other alcoholic beverages.
Barley, whose Latin name is Hordeum vulgare, has been cultivated for more than 10,000 years.
Since ancient times, barley has been used for healing purposes and has been known to the Chinese, Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. Athletes in Greece and Rome in those days were known to eat barley bread to give them strength.
Besides the usual things we do with barley, I enjoy having it in a western soup. The larger pearl barley is used and I love the sticky bite of it.
Here's a recipe for barley soup:
Barley Soup with Roasted Garlic
1 cup pearl barley
5 cloves whole garlic, roasted
2 litres chicken stock, steeped from 1 chicken breasts simmered in three litres water
2 tbsps vegetable oil
2 large onions, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
150g turkey ham, cut up
1 tsp ground white pepper
1 tsps sea salt or to taste
1 tbsp chopped parsley
1. Wash barley and soak it in a bowl of water for three hours. Drain.
2. Heat oil in pan and fry onions. Add carrots and celery, then the barley and fry for three minutes.
3. Add chicken stock, pepper and roasted garlic and simmer over low heat for at least an hour, or until barley is soft.
4. Add salt to taste and serve the soup garnished with chopped parsley.