The Importance of Barley

The Importance of Barley

The Bible is filled with references to barley, which is among the earliest known and most nourishing grains ever to be cultivated. It's fascinating to note that the term 'barley' is mentioned 37 times throughout the the Holy Bible.

While wheat is probably a more valuable grain than barley, the fact that it is mentioned 37 times means it played a vital role in the health and healing of the ancient Israelites.

Barley is an ancient grain used for thousands of years as a nourishing food. An interesting fact is the Roman gladiators were sometimes called "hordearii" or barley eaters. It seems that these gladiators were given barley to eat with their meal as this gave them bursts of strength and energy before their contests. Strength and energy were vital to the survival of these ancient warriors. Today, nutritionists classify barley as one of the three balanced starches. The other two are rice and potatoes. All of these starches are rich in complex carbohydrates that the body converts to fuel for energy.

Throughout the world, barley is an important grain. The Middle East is a large consumer of this food. Some nutritionists speculate that the low rate of heart disease in this part of the world is because of the large amount of barley they consume. The reason they suspect this is because barley is full of beta glucans. This is a fiber type that can lower the risk of heart disease by reducing the levels of an artery clogging component. The same fiber that helps keep your arteries clear helps with constipation by keeping you regular.

The FDA allows foods that contain at least 51% whole grains by weight, barley being a whole grain, to display a health claim stating that consumption is linked to lower risk of heart disease and certain cancer. Research also suggests that eating whole grains reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Everyone who has done any Bible study knows that bread, "the staff of life", was highly regarded by the people of the Bible. Bread can be and was made from barley as well as wheat.

A study published in the "Archives of Internal Medicine" states that eating high fiber foods, such as barley, helps prevent heart disease. Almost 10,000 American adults were followed for 19 years. People eating the most fiber, 21 grams per day, had 12% less coronary heart disease (CHD) and 11% less cardiovascular disease (CVD) compared to those eating the least, 5 grams daily.

Barley is also effective is controlling the production of LDL cholesterol that we know is the "bad" cholesterol. This is the kind of cholesterol that helps cause strokes and heart attacks. In one interesting study on animals, researchers from the United States Department of Agriculture discovered that the production of LDL was reduced by a remarkable 18% when large amounts of barley were added to their diet.

In a follow-up study, scientists at Montana State University discovered that a high barley diet had the same effect on people. In that study, a group of men ate many foods containing barley, including cereal, bread, cakes and muffins made from barley flour. After six weeks of three servings a day, the men's cholesterol levels dropped an average of 15%.