Barley--The New Health Fighter

Oats or oatmeal is well known to have cholesterol-lowering benefits to prevent heart disease. However, a recent study1 in 2004 showed that by incorporating barley in daily diet, bad cholesterol level can be dropped by 14 -17%. Barley is also a whole grain which is low in calories, fat and protein and high in fiber. The major component in barley which help reduces cholesterol is the soluble fiber beta-glucan. Beta-glucan soluble fiber can reduce bad cholesterol by binding to bile acid in the gut and then excreted. A daily intake of 3-6g beta-glucan is recommended to have significant cholesterol lowering effect and 100 g of whole grain barley already provides 4.3-5.5 g beta-glucan.

Barley is also a low glycemic index food which allows sugar to be released and absorbed more slowly after eating resulting in better regulation of blood sugar2. As barley is a high fiber food, it also increases satiety for weight reduction individuals in order to prevent over-consumption of other foods3. Besides its benefits to heart health, blood sugar and weight reduction, increased intake of barley also prevent constipation which reduces the chance of colon cancer.

Nutrition Analysis of Barley VS Rice (1 cup cooked):

Barley is available in many forms including flour, flakes, and pearl barley. To increase intake of barley, try the following:

  • Add barley to stews, soup, rice dishes and congee to enhancetexture
  • Mix barley flour with wheat flour to make breads and muffins
  • Added cracked barley or barley flakes into oatmeal at breakfast
  • Toss barley into salads
Barley Recipe:
Beef and Barley Stew with Chu Hou Paste (4 serves)


500 g Beef Tenderloin, 1 inch cubes
1/4 cup Pearl barley
1 tablespoon Canola oil
5 cups Water
1/2 medium Turnip, cubes
2 medium Carrot, cubes
1/2 large Onion, diced
1 large stalks Celery, sliced
2 slices Ginger
2 stalks Green onion
2 tablespoon Lee Kum Kee Chu Hou Paste
1/2 teaspoon Lee Kum Kee Freshly Minced Garlic

Cooking Method:

  1. Heat oil in hot pot over medium heat, add ginger, green onion and beef, and stir until beef is browned on both sides.
  2. Add barley and water and bring to a boil.
  3. Add other ingredients into the pot and bring to a boil again.
  4. Simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours over small to medium heat, until vegetables are tender.
  5. Add salt and pepper to taste.


  1. Behall KM et al. Blood Lipids and Barley Beta-Glucan, Amer J Clin Nutr 80:1185-93, Nov. 2004
  2. Pick ME, Hawrysh ZJ, Gee MI, Toth E, 1998. Barley Bread products improve
    glycemic control of type 2 diabetes. Int J Food Sci Nutr Soc 62:143-9.
  3. Burley VJ, Blundell JE, 1995. Dietary fiber and the pattern of energy intake.
    In Dietary Fiber in Health and Disease, Kritchevsky, D., Bonfield, C.,eds,
    Eagen Press: St Paul, 243256.

Written by: Sylvia See Way Lam APD

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