Hulled Barley

A Few Facts About Hulled Barley

Barley is one of the favored cereal grains in the world, and hulled barley is just one of the ways in which barley is processed. Also referred to as groats in some locales, barley though used as food, is more commonly associated with its use in malt beverages such as whiskey and beer. About 40 percent of barley harvested is used either as human food or in alcoholic beverages, mostly in the latter, the remaining 60 percent being used as livestock feed.

The most popular form of the barley used for human consumption is pearl barley, which is the barley grain with the two outer layers, including the layer of bran, removed. In this form barely cooks more quickly and is quite flavorful, having a somewhat nutty taste, but in removing the hulls and bran many if not most of the nutrients have been removed as well.

Hulled barley on the other hand is prepared by only removing the outer layer of the grain, leaving the bran layer intact. Retaining the bran layer yields a barley that is much more nutritious and richer in fiber than is the case with pearl barley. Hulled barley is sometimes referred to as whole-grain or whole wheat barley. It takes a bit longer to cook in this form than does pearl barley but is, according to most, just as delicious.

Benefits From Fiber And Fatty Acids - Since the bran layer is retained on hulled barley, it is a very beneficial food when it comes to regularity, as the greater amount of dietary fiber provides nourishment for bacteria in the large intestine, enabling the production of butyric acid, a fatty acid which plays an important role in maintaining a healthy colon. Other fatty acids produced through the help of hulled barley fiber benefit liver and muscle cells.

A Bad Cholesterol Fighter  - Hulled barley has proven beneficial in controlling cholesterol levels. Testing done on individuals who initially were given a diet containing no barley, and then given a diet containing barley, showed a significant decrease in levels of bad cholesterol (LDL) as well as an increase in good cholesterol (HDL) levels. Consequently, the ingestion of barley, particularly hulled barley, is good for those having or at risk of having heart or cardiovascular disease.

We are often encouraged to include whole grains in our diet for the many benefits to be gained, and although there are other whole grains such as oats and wheat, the benefits attributed to whole grains in general usually apply to barley as well, especially hulled barley. Barley has many of the same nutrients found in another health food, the soybean, and as such, consumption of barley not only helps manage cholesterol levels but tends to maintain the elasticity of blood vessels, as well as generally assisting various cell metabolic processes.

Like whole wheat bran, hulled barley has antioxidant properties, much more so than is the case with either refined wheat or pearl barley. These antioxidants include vitamin E. selenium, and phenolic and phytic acids. Truth be told, hulled barley contains a laundry list of antioxidants and other highly beneficial nutrients.

Eat Your Groats - When choosing a cereal or a flour, keep barley in mind, being especially on the lookout for an indication that it is hulled barley that is being purchased. While barley may not enjoy the same level of consumption as does wheat, and may therefore be regarded by many as an inferior grain product, nothing could be farther from the truth. Maybe it's the fact that some people still call barely groats is what makes it appear to be somewhat of an old fashioned and therefore perhaps obsolescent food item.