Friday, March 1, 2024

HEALING HERBS: Nutritional values of barley


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The Friday night Barbadian village meal of yesteryear included pickled breadfruit, cassava hats or muffins, rice porridge with grated coconut, cornmeal pap and barley tea. 

Indeed, we honestly looked forward to Friday night because we bonded as a family and dined on meals which prevented many health challenges. Nowadays, that rich tradition has been replaced with the sophisticated Friday night limes where the menu is barbecued pigtails, chicken, chips and the other fast foods. Is culture gone? 

I wonder if we can return to drinking nutritious barley and other Friday traditional foods during our Independence celebrations? However, last week we delved into the value of silent doctor sago.  This week we are going to examine the value of silent doctor barley and its medicinal impact.

Barley, which is known by its scientific name Hordeum vulgare L, was one of the first domesticated grains grown in Egypt along the River Nile in North East Africa. Barley contains many nutrients, including Vitamin B1 and 3, manganese, molybdenum, selenium, fibre (13.6 per cent), copper, chromium, phosphorus and magnesium. On the website it is noted: “A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests barley’s fibre has multiple beneficial effects on cholesterol. In this study of 25 individuals with high cholesterol (postmenopausal women, premenopausal women and men), adding barley to the American Heart Association Step 1 diet resulted in a significant lowering in total cholesterol in all subjects.”

Barley can protect the body against atherosclerosis, breast cancer and gallstones. It can lower the risk of Type 2 diabetes, reduces the risk of childhood asthma, can develop and repair body tissue, and reduces the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.

The website has revealed that barley contains beta-glucans which is a type of fibre. Studies have found that beta-glucans lower insulin resistance and blood cholesterol levels, thereby lowering the risk of obesity as well as providing an immunity boost. Barley can also prevent constipation and keep the digestive tract healthy. 

The website also shows that choline is a very important and versatile nutrient in barley that helps with sleep, muscle movement, learning and memory. Choline also helps to maintain the structure of cellular membranes, aids in the transmission of nerve impulses, assists in the absorption of fat and reduces chronic inflammation.

Finally, as Barbadians celebrate 49 years of Independence, we must not only collect the vestiges and speeches related to that period, but must also pay homage to our herbal heroes. Come, let us celebrate with barley and stay connected with culture, good health and healthy traditions.

• Annette Maynard-Watson, a teacher and herbal educator, may be contacted via or by telephone 250-6450.

DISCLAIMER: It is not our intention to prescribe or make specific claims for any products. Any attempts to diagnose or treat real illness should come under the direccton of your health care provider.


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