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Barley (Jav): Ayurvedic super-grain to boost metabolism and wellness


Barley is an Ayurvedic super-grain which is ideal for people with a Kapha and Pitta 'prakriti'. It is loaded with nutrients and should ideally be part of your daily diet in all seasons…

History and Nutritional Profile

Barley is one of the most ancient grains grown in temperate climates globally, being one of the first cultivated grains, particularly in Eurasia as early as 11,000 years ago. In 2017, it stood 4th in quantity produced among grains and came behind maize, rice and wheat. A 100-gm serving of Barley typically provides 352 kcalories of energy with a rich nutrient profile including protein (10 g or 10%), dietary fibre, B vitamins, niacin (31% DV), vitamin B6 (20% DV), manganese (63% DV) and phosphorus (32% DV).

In modern Bharat, the significance of this super-grain has reduced owing to the growing importance of wheat and rice in the diet. Barley is popularly used as animal fodder and to make malt mixes and beverages. However, Barley can be a great addition to one’s daily diet. It not only improves bodily strength but also protects against various lifestyle diseases.

Benefits of Barley

1) Great for Kapha dosha - In Ayurveda, Barley is strongly recommended for people with Kapha and Pitta 'prakriti'. So it is particularly useful for children and younger populations which tend to be more susceptible to Kapha and Pitta related doshas. Barley is lighter to digest and does not produce excess mucus in the system. 2) Natural coolant – Barley is cooling in nature as per Ayurvedic texts, and hence combines well with winter foods such as Bajra and Ragi. It is also great for people suffering from excess body heat and related digestive or skin conditions.

3) Increases strength – Barley has a relatively high protein content and is described in Ayurveda as 'balya'. This grain is recommended in children as well as adults to increase body strength.

4) High in fibre – Barley has abundant dietary fibre, which makes it great for digestion and to control blood sugar and cholesterol. This aspect of barley also helps with weight loss as dietary fibre makes a person feel fuller for longer.

5) Reduces cholesterol – A 2010 analysis of clinical trials indicates that barley and one of its components called β-glucan can help to reduce “LDL” or bad cholesterol in the blood.

Gluten Intolerance’ or weak digestion?

In modern times, wheat and barley have become more controversial as many nutritional experts believe that gluten, a type of protein contained in these grains, is a source of dietary allergies and related health conditions. However, we also note that many health advocates blame worsening lifestyle, improper food habits and poor digestion to health conditions that have otherwise been correlated with the consumption of wheat & barley. Ayurveda describes wheat as ‘difficult to digest’ while Barley as 'lighter to digest' and any health condition which appears to be triggered by the consumption of these grains should be evaluated by an Ayurvedic Vaidya. We believe the answer lies in consuming moderate amounts of freshly cooked wheat or barley in its desi (local) organic form, instead of inorganic, genetically modified or highly processed versions.

How to cook barley

It is ideal to use the organic whole grain barley instead of white pearl barley. Whole barley can be boiled like rice and also used to make soups and added to salads. SOSE also stocks organic whole grain barley flour which can be an excellent addition to your daily diet. Barley flour is used to make rotis either on its own or as a combination with bajra or wheat. Barley flour can also be used to make soups or sheera / halwa (ideally using desi gau ghee and mishri) for achieving excellent all-round energy, particularly in children.

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