Foods for the digestive system Grains

Barley (malt) – Properties and health benefits / medicinal uses

In this article, the properties and medicinal uses / health benefits of barley are discussed below.

Botanical name: Hordeum vulgare L.
Other names: Malt, Barley corn, Barley flakes.
Malt is the fruit of the barley plant, Hordeum vulgare L., a herbaceous plant of the botanical family Gramineae.

Properties of barley
Below are the properties of barley:

• Carbohydrates – This is contained in high amounts, representing about 56.2% of its total content. The carbohydrates in barley are present in the form of starch, and are best digested when the barley is in a malted form.

• Proteins – Barley also contains proteins in high amounts, about 12.5% of its total content. The proteins present in barley are deficient in an essential amino acid known as lysine, thus, needs to be combined with legumes which are rich in lysine to complete its proteins.

• Fiber – Barley contains fiber in reasonably high amounts, even higher than that of wheat.

• Vitamins – Barley contains vitamins such as vitamin B1, B2 and E in significant quantities. Barley together with almost all grains lack vitamin C and B12, as well as provitamin A.

• Minerals – Barley contains magnesium, iron, phosphorus, and zinc in rich amounts. It also contains some trace elements in rich amounts, but is poor in calcium.

Health benefits / medicinal uses of barley

Excess cholesterol
It has been proved that the consumption of barley in any form, be it flour, flakes or malted form, helps reduce the total cholesterol level, harmful cholesterol level, as well as triglycerides. Barley consumption has been shown effective in preventing arteriosclerosis, which leads to coronary disease.

Digestive disorders
Barley in the form of flour, malt and pearl, are highly recommended in cases of:
» Indigestion (Gastritis dyspepsia)
» Gastroduodenal ulcer
» Colitis
» Gastroenteritis

Intestinal disorders
Barley helps prevent certain intestinal disorders. For example, the fiber present in barley helps prevent constipation and its complications.

An experiment conducted with diabetic laboratory animals showed that ” those animals that were fed barley showed a lower glucose level than those fed on wheat “. This property of barley is still being investigated in the laboratory.

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