What Is Barley Grass?
Barley grass is a young cereal grass that contains nutrients similar to those found in green leafy vegetables such as spinach, but more concentrated. The origin of barley grass dates back to 5000 BC. Its cultivation began as early as 3000 BC by the Swiss lake dwellers, which makes barley grass one of the earliest grown sweet grasses. Barley grass was extremely popular amongst Romans and Greeks because of its unique nutritional profile and multidimensional health benefits. Today, barley grass has gained popularity because of its ability to relieve many common conditions such as anemia, asthma, skin problems, obesity, impotence, heart problems, diabetes, high blood pressure and kidney problems.
Barley Grass Nutritional Value
Barley grass is rich in phytochemicals, which although not essential, can be very beneficial for overall health. Barley grass contains two types of phytochemicals: chlorophyll and carotenoids. Additionally, barley grass is a rich source of vitamin A, vitamins B1, B2, B3 and B6, vitamin C, vitamin E and vitamin K. It also contains high levels of electrolytes - magnesium, potassium and phosphorous, as well as essential minerals: zinc, calcium, and iron. Barley grass is rich in organic sodium, which aids in the production of hydrochloric acid in the stomach, thus boosting digestion. Furthermore, it provides potent antioxidants, amino acids, and beneficial enzymes such as SOD (superoxide dismutase).
Barley Grass Health Benefits
A Powerful Antioxidant
Barley grass is extremely rich in antioxidants. It contains superoxide dismutase, considered to be one of the most powerful antioxidants our body creates. SOD neutralizes the effects of free radicals caused by an oxidative stress, playing a crucial role in preventing a number of diseases. According to Mayo Clinic, antioxidants may play a role in helping to prevent diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, Alzheimer's disease and macular degeneration.
Enhances the Immune System
Barley grass contains nearly seven times the vitamin C of oranges. That's why this grass is a valued immune system booster, making your body resistant to infections. Consuming barley grass can help combat stress and fatigue, as it contains a full range of B vitamins. Additionally, daily consumption of barley grass can help balance the production of body’s immune cells. The copper, also present in barley grass, boosts the immune system and it is responsible for bone health.
The superoxide dismutase enzyme may play a role in preventing cancer. The potent catalase enzymes also contribute to the prevention by decreasing the proliferation of cancer cells. These enzymes also neutralize the effects of toxic hydrogen peroxide, produced during respiration. Barley grass is especially recommended for women, since it might be beneficial in preventing breast cancer.
Protects From UV Radiation
This green superfood also protects the body from the cell-destroying UV radiation. Moreover, it has a therapeutic influence on the damaged cell, thanks to the presence of superoxide dismutase enzymes. Chlorophyll makes the body more resistant to radioactivity and is helps in the production of new blood cells. Drinking barley grass juice is especially recommended to people that are prone to such exposure - those living in urban areas and large cities.
Detoxifies the Body
One of the most prized benefits of barley grass is related to its ability to act as a powerful detoxifier. The presence of zinc, copper, and selenium make this grass extremely effective in eliminating the harmful heavy metals accumulated in our bodies. Moreover, the high levels of beta-carotene and chlorophyll stimulate the elimination of waste materials. This "supergrass" is also an effective liver cleanser, supporting essential metabolic processes.
Supports Weight Loss
Obesity is a modern epidemic which can lead to respiratory problems, diabetes, heart diseases and joint pain. Barley grass is a source of insoluble fiber that provides many essential vitamins and minerals, thus helping you feel full for longer. Engaging in regular exercise in addition to consuming barley grass might help those struggling with excess weight to slim down in a healthy way.
Helps in Treating Diabetes and Lowers Cholesterol
Several studies have shown that barley grass can help manage blood sugar levels and improve insulin resistance. It contains beta-glucan, a soluble fiber, that slows down the absorption of glucose. The antioxidants and vitamins contained in the barley grass leaves help manage sudden blood sugar level spikes or drops, which often lead to other health problems. What is more, a study has shown that barley grass is a miracle worker when it comes to lowering the cholesterol, being abundant in monosaturated fats and antioxidants.
Our DNA changes constantly as a result of rhe stress, the pollution and the foods we consume. The consequences of these changes can be grave, causing genetic abnormalities, unhealthy pregnancy, sterility and premature ageing, as concluded by the physician and pharmacist Yoshihide Hagiwara. Incorporating barley grass into the diet protects and repairs the DNA.
Amongst the plentiful health benefits of barley grass, bone protection emerges as one the most important ones. This miracle grass contains 11 times more calcium than milk! Additionally, it is also rich in copper, neogen, and manganese which are essential for keeping the bones in good condition. Children can also consume barley grass to promote better bone development. What is more, it may help alleviate the symptoms and slow down the progression of osteoporosis.
Rejuvenates the Skin
Focusing on a healthy diet and improving your lifestyle can do wonders for your skin. Barley grass is rich in chlorophyll, vitamin B and iron - all these components play an important role in renewing and regenerating cells, thus maintaining healthy skin. Quercetin gives elasticity to the skin and also prevents the development of folds of loose skin. Also, it protects from wind, pollution, UV rays and all other external factors.
Asthma is very common condition, especially amongst children. Incorporating barley grass in the diet can alleviate its symptoms and prevent asthma from developing. This can further prevent some serious health issues.
Barley grass has alkalising properties, supporting a healthy acid-alkaline balance in the body. As a natural alkaline sourceit reduceses excess acidity, preventing so called "acidosis damage". It can also prevent other problems related to excessive acidity, such as cardiac pains, sleep disorders, fatigue or constipation.
Relieves the Symptoms of Fibromyalgia
A study, published in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine in 2001, states that people with fibromyalgia can benefit from incorporating dehydrated barley grass juice product in their nutrition, along with fruits, salads, grain products and other seeds. Such nutrition helped the 26 participants in relieving fibromyalgia symptoms. Also, their pain was reduced and their flexibility has improved significantly.
Helps Fighting Addiction
Using barley grass as a supplement can help you fight addictions. Because of the glutamic acid contained in it, barley grass will prevent the desire for products that can harm your body such as coffee, nicotine, alcohol, and sweets.
Helps Treating Ulcerative Colitis
The stimulating effect that barley grass has to the gut-friendly bacteria, helps in relieving the ulcerative colitis symptoms.
What's the Difference Between Barley Grass and Wheatgrass?
Both barley grass and wheatgrass are a valuable addition to any diet because of their nutrient density. They are very similar in terms of nutritional status and fiber content. Both of these "supergrasses" are rich in vitamins and minerals. However, the sodium content of barley grass is notably higher than that of the wheatgrass. Moreover, barley grass neutralizes the free radicals and its known for its pain and inflammation relief properties. Wheatgrass is richer in chlorophyll than the barley grass.
How to Consume Barley Grass
Barley grass is most commonly used as a supplement in smoothies or simply mixed with water. Taking it in the morning will help you start the day right and energize your body before you face the day. But barley grass is more than a smoothie booster - it can be added to soups, stew or used to make barley bread. You can also use barley grass to produce wine or beer!
You can buy barley grass in the form of powder or convenient barley grass capsules. A teaspoon of barley grass powder or 7 tablets is equivalent to one serving of leafy vegetables. This is the recommended daily intake, but if you are just beginning to use barley grass as a food supplement, you can start off with ½ a teaspoon or 3-4 tablets. Barley grass is also a great choice after a workout. You can add it to your protein shake or make a nourishing green smoothie.
Is Barley Grass a Grain?
Nutritional grass, also known as cereal grass, is the young plant that later grows into a cereal grain. Consequently, the barley grass used as a supplement is not a grain. So, you don’t need to avoid it if you have a gluten intolerance - barley grass is totally gluten-free, as said in the U.S Food and Drug Administration’s gluten-free label rules. When you choose between barley grass and barley grain bear in mind that they are completely different. The grass is consumed as a juice or as a supplement and the grain is consumed similarly to quinoa or rice, for example.
Where to Buy Barley Grass and How to Choose the Best One?
Barley grass is rapidly gaining popularity, but not all the barley grass supplements are trustworthy and sufficiently pure. Always consider the origin, purity and certifications. Also, be aware of fillers and additives that may be present. The best barley grass is organic, gluten-free and minimally processed so that all sensitive enzymes and amino acids are preserved.
Barley grass is generally safe to use. However, rare cases of allergic reactions have been observed. These can include itching, burning sensation in the throat and mouth or vomiting. That is why it's recommended to begin with a small dosage to test reactivity. People who suffer from celiac disease should avoid taking barley grass. Diabetics should adjust their medications when using barley grass because it can lower the blood sugar. For the same reasons, you should stop using barley grass at least two weeks before a surgery. If you are taking any medications, talk to your health professional before including barley grass in your diet.