Many column inches are given over each month to expounding the benefits of superfoods. Think back to a decade ago: how often did people include kale, chia or wheatgrass in products? Probably not regularly.
Whilst trends come and go, one grain has flown relatively under the radar. That is the humble, yet heroic, barley.
Barley through time
Referenced in the book of Ezekiel, barley hasn’t changed since biblical times. In fact, it was viewed as such a superfood, the Roman army relied on it as a source of food for gladiators. They may well have been onto something, as barley is a fantastic source of slow release energy as well as helping to control blood sugar levels.
Barley has long been used in the diets of many cultures. Western countries tend to use barley in breakfast cereals such as muesli and granolas, pearled and added to soups, and in bread due to the nutritional punch that it packs.
A nutritional superhero
Barley has many nutritional benefits, and is often overlooked as a cost-effective alternative to other grains. In its wholegrain form barley is high in fibre, and swapping oats for barley in breakfast cereals can help increase fibre content, reduce fat and reduce cost. A super food without the super price tag!
Increasing the barley content in a product can also support improved digestion. The insoluble and soluble fibres in barley help transport food through the digestive system, and the soluble fibres are a Pre-biotic, promoting the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut.
Barley is also a rich source of the soluble fibre, Beta Glucan, which has been shown to reduce blood cholesterol, a risk factor in the development of coronary heart disease, when at least 3g a day is consumed.
A versatile addition to your ingredient portfolio
Barley is far more versatile than its traditional use bulking out of soups, broths and casseroles. This adaptable grain can be used in a broad range of product categories from sports drinks (including of course Barley water), black puddings, breadcrumbs, coatings, risottos, pilaffs and even sweet puddings and ice cream.
Keen to add a new superfood to your portfolio? Our experienced NPD team can help you with the development of your ranges to incorporate barley. Find out more about our barley products here and contact us to find out how we can help you.