Canadian researchers have highlighted barley’s positive impact on the cholesterol that is bad for us. They found that this fibre-rich cereal brings about a 7% reduction in two types of bad cholesterol – LDL and non-HDL – that are associated with cardiovascular risk.
According to a recent study published in the European Journal Of Clinical Nutrition, barley acts in a similar way to oats in that it reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease linked to two types of bad cholesterol: low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and non-high density lipoprotein (non-HDL).
The study, which covered seven countries, suggests that the cholesterol-lowering effect of this fibre-rich cereal could be of particular benefit to type 2 diabetes sufferers who have high levels of cholesterol – particularly non-HDL – but also healthy people.
Barley is a wonderfully versatile cereal grain with a rich nutlike flavor and an appealing chewy, pasta-like consistency. Its appearance resembles wheat berries, although it is slightly lighter in color. Sprouted barley is naturally high in maltose, a sugar that serves as the basis for both malt syrup sweetener.
Barley has twice as much protein and half the calories of oats, which could be an important consideration for people who have weight or dietary concerns.
Both of these cereals have high levels of beta-glucan, a viscous soluble fibre. Just 3g of this fibre per day (equivalent to 30-40g of oats or barley) has a lowering effect on total cholesterol and LDL.
Barley’s dietary fiber also provides food for the “friendly” bacteria in the large intestine. When these helpful bacteria ferment barley’s insoluble fiber, they produce a short-chain fatty acid called butyric acid, which serves as the primary fuel for the cells of the large intestine and helps maintain a healthy colon. These helpful bacteria also create two other short-chain fatty acids, propionic and acetic acid, which are used as fuel by the cells of the liver and muscles.
The 14 clinical trials carried out in seven different countries showed that patients’ levels of bad cholesterol were lowered by 7%.
Over the past ten years, barley consumption has dropped by 35% worldwide. Canada is one of the world’s top five barley producers with almost 10 megatonnes per year – but human consumption only accounts for 2% of production. Barley is part of the Canadian strategy for reducing cardiovascular risk.
Oats and barley, which are also packed with vitamins and minerals, are available in various forms: bran, flour, whole or crushed grains, and flakes. They can be worked into any meal of the day. Recommended fibre consumption is an average is of 30g per day.
Eating fibre-rich bread is another option. To meet the recommended daily requirements, only 10% of the wheat flour in bread needs to be replaced by barley bran.