If green barley sounds like something you would only feed a hamster or guinea pig, think again. As one of the many substances traditionally found in Asian cuisine, but now emerging into greater global consumption, green barley has many vital nutrients and you may find yourself supplementing with it soon.
- What is green barley? For the uninitiated, green barley as a supplement can be taken in pill, powder or liquid form. You might also see it referred to as barley grass. All green barley supplements, regardless of form, are derived from the leaves of young barley plants. Be wary of added and unnecessary ingredients that may be undesirable in the juice form (such as sugar).
- Vitamins. Green barley is a good source of B vitamins, vitamin C and vitamin E. This plant can provide you with more vitamin C than orange juice. Additionally, green barley contains more beta-carotene than carrots, and its beta-carotene is easier for the body to utilize.
- Antioxidants. Green barley contains a particular form of vitamin E - alpha-tocopherol succinate - whose antioxidant qualities have been documented extensively. Not only that, but green barley is the best vegetable source of the enzyme superoxide dismutase, one of the most important antioxidants to the health of cells that are exposed to oxygen.
- Protein and amino acids. For those looking to maintain a healthy level of protein without relying on meat, roughly 40% of the mass of green barley is protein. The assortment of amino acids in green barley is wonderfully vast.
- Mineral-rich. Not only is green barley an excellent source of protein, but it has more calcium than milk - roughly ten times more! Calcium isn't the only mineral available in green barley, though; in fact, green barley is a veritable goldmine of minerals, containing potassium, manganese, zinc and a particularly high amount of iron (even more than spinach, which is famous for its iron content).
- Source of fiber. Green barley contains the fiber a-glucan. Researchers are studying the possibility that a-glucan, more familiarly present in oat bran, can reduce cholesterol levels.
- Chlorophyll? Some have attributed chlorophyll (responsible for the green pigment in plants like green barley) with an antioxidant effect, or the ability to cure bad breath or even combat the symptoms of fibromyalgia. However, there is little evidence to confirm these assertions.
Green barley is undeniably good for you; as a vegetable, it is a great source of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, and would be a wise addition to your diet. Rather than approaching green barley as a cure-all or exotic miracle substance, we should appreciate it as a good, healthy food.