By Karen Appold
Barley, an annual grass, is the leaf of the barley plant (not the grain). It is harvested about 200 days after germination: when shoots have grown about one foot tall and are at the height of their maturity.
Barley grass contains a multitude of vitamins and minerals. It is high in vitamins A, B1, B2, B12, folic acid, C, and E. It also contains calcium and potassium: essential electrolytes you lose when you’re ill or exercising heavily. Other minerals in barley include iron, phosphorus, and magnesium. Additional components are amino acids, protein, fiber, chlorophyll, and enzymes. These ingredients play an integral role in supporting optimum health. Unlike other plants, barley provides all nine of the essential amino acids that your body can’t make. It also supports your immune system.
Fiber is crucial for the body’s digestion process. Protein is necessary to develop and maintain cells, which help to keep skin, bones, tissue, muscles, and your organs healthy.
How it’s healthful
Barley is good for your cardiovascular health because it contains soluble fiber. It lowers LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol levels while increasing HCL cholesterol levels.
Some of barley’s properties seem to prevent certain cancers. Although it’s not known for sure, the reason may be due to the plant’s antioxidants or chlorophyll content. However, there is no research to support this.
Barley grass contains an antioxidant called alpha-tocopherol. Antioxidants protect against harmful free radicals. If you have an antioxidant deficiency, some experts believe that you may be more prone to cancer, as well as Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes.
Some experts claim that barley grass plays a role in curing skin diseases and ulcers because it helps to grow new cells and it can replace diseased cells.
Barley grass comes in a variety forms, including powder, grass juice, and tablets. Depending on why you’re taking it, different amounts are advised. If you experience side effects such nausea, diarrhea, or constipation, when you first start taking it, decrease your dosage and then slowly increase it.