The Benefits of Barley

It’s fairly common that people with diabetes will at some point find themselves thinking carbohydrates are simply evil. Not only are carbohydrates a popular target-of-choice for the fad diet crowd, but it’s impossible to separate carbohydrates from diabetes. Guilt by association can seem like solid logic. But, before you lose your faith in carbohydrates completely, let me introduce you to barley.

Barley is a grain, and grains are definitely carbohydrates. Like other grains, the “carb choice” portion of cooked barley – 15 grams carbohydrate – is a modest ⅓ cup. Like other grains, barley raises blood glucose levels as it digests because most of the carbohydrate is starch. But, some of the carbohydrate in barley is fiber. And the fiber in barley is another story.

Your concept of fiber is probably of the type that promotes “digestive regularity” – insoluble fiber. But, it’s a soluble fiber called beta glucan that has some impressive health-related benefits. You may be familiar with the association between oats and improved cholesterol levels, an effect attributed in part to beta glucan contained in both oats and barley.

Barley has some impressive influence on diabetes too. Some studies have shown that barley reduces the rise in blood glucose from other carbohydrate foods. And, one study documented that participants with type 2 diabetes who ate a healthy diet which included 18 grams of soluble fiber from barley each day showed a reduction in A1C of 30%. That is, the group’s average A1C fell from 8.4% to 5.9%! Wow!

Carbohydrates come in many forms, and there is no doubt that some should represent a very small part of a diabetes-friendly diet. But, barley is but one example of why we want to keep healthy carbohydrate foods as an important and regular visitor to our dinner plate. Some carbohydrates are amazing.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Type2Diabetes.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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