Barley takes care of your heart |
Like vitamin E, barley contains tocotrienols, which are strong antioxidants. As you probably know, antioxidants help to reduce damaging the body by free radicals. Tocotrienols are potentially more powerful antioxidants than other chemical versions of vitamin E. They have at least 50% more free-radical-fighting power than other forms. That translate in a lot of disease fighting potential.
Tocotrienols protect against heart disease in two ways. Firstly, they stop free-radical oxidation, a process that makes low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, which is the dangerous type of cholesterol that more likely stick to artery walls. And secondly, they act on the liver to reduce the production of cholesterol.
Tocotrienols may also help to prevent cancer. According to several studies, these antioxidants can help protect lab rodents from liver and breast cancer. More recently, research has shown that tocotrienols can encourage breast cancer cells to die.
Barley also contains lignans, compounds with antioxidant ability and therefore provide even more protection. Lignans can help prevent the forming of tiny blood clots and so further reducing the risk of heart disease.
Lignants may also help to prevent cancer. After you have eaten them, your body turns them into phytoestrogens, which can block the cancer-supporting effect of women's own estrogen. A study of more than 3,000 women compared the diet history of women who have had breast cancer against women who didn't have breast cancer. Premenopausal women with the highest amount of lignans in their diets had 34% less risk of breast cancer.
Finally, barley is exceptionally high in both the trace mineral selenium and vitamin E. Although research results are mixed, there is evidence that both help protect against cancer.
Some researchers believe that selenium works best as an anticancer agent when it works in combination with other antioxidants. Barley, as we know, has this in abundance.
One cup of cooked pearl barley contains 36 micrograms of selenium, which is more than half the Daily Value (DV) for this mineral, and 5 IU Vitamin E, or 17% of the DV for this vitamin.
FIBER PROTECTION Another way than helping to reduce the damage from dangerous LDL cholesterol, and keep the blood vessels healthy, is the fact that it's loaded with betaglucan, a type of soluble fiber that forms a gel in the small intestine. Cholesterol in your body binds to this gel, which is than excreted from the body.
However, soluble fiber does more than lower cholesterol. It also binds to potential cancer- causing agents in the intestine, keeping them from being absorbed. And because soluble fiber soaks up a lot of water in the colon, it helps digestion to work more efficiently, thereby preventing constipation.
During a five-week USDA study in which 25 people with elevated cholesterol were involved, requiring them to eat a heart-healthy diet that contained varying amounts of beta-glucan from barley, such as barley flakes, barley flour and pearl barley. The people eating a diet containing 3 or 6 grams of beta-glucan daily watched their total cholesterol drop significantly, compared with people who's diet didn't have the soluble fiber. A half-cup of barley will give you 3 grams of soluble fiber.
TIPS TO GET THE MOST BENEFIT Buy it whole Although pearl barley is the most common form found in American grocery stores, it may be refined no less than five times to scrub off the healthful outer husk and bran layer. A more nutritious choice is hulled barley. Stripped only of the outer,inedible hull, it's the best source of fiber, minerals and thiamin. It also hs a more distinctive, nuttier flavor than it's highly processed counterparts. You are generally be able to buy hulled barley at health food stores.
HOW TO USE IT IN THE KITCHEN Compared with rice and wheat, which are quite mild, barley has a robust, slightly pungent taste that compliment highly flavored dishes like lamb stew or mushroom soup. But you prepare it in much the same way as other grains by mixing it with water and letting it simmer, covered until the kernels are tender. Here are a few additional tips.
Plan for expansion One cup of dried barley will expand to about four times that amount during cooking, so be sure to use apan that is slightly oversized.
Give it time to tenderize. Hulled barley can be extremely tough and slow to cook. So it should be soaked overnight before cooking. Pearl barley, however, comes without the tough outer husk and doesn't require soaking.
Use it as an add-in Even properly prepared barley is somewhat chewy, so it's rarely served as a side dish. Most cooks prefer to make barley ahead of time, then add it to soups or stews.
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