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Discover the Benefits of Barley Water with Recipes

benefits of barley water

Barley water may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you want to enjoy something tall and cool on your patio or with friends. Yet you may change your mind when you learn how this beverage choice not only can improve your health but taste darn good as well.

As a grain, barley offers a wealth of health benefits, such as:

  • A good to excellent source of selenium, molybdenum, manganese, fiber, copper, vitamin B1, magnesium, niacin, chromium, and phosphorus
  • Its fiber nourishes the beneficial bacteria living in the large intestine, which helps maintain a healthy gut
  • The breakdown of barley’s fiber in the gut results in the production of propionic acid, which may help lower cholesterol
  • Barley’s fiber also is an excellent source of beta glucan, a substance that assists in lowering cholesterol
  • The dietary fiber in barley also may help reduce the risk of heart disease and in the management of blood glucose levels, especially important for people with diabetes

Read about barley and diabetes

Barley water
What about barley water? According to Ayurvedic tradition, barley water is a cooling food and is beneficial for people who suffer with digestive problems because it is easy to digest and can help prevent constipation and nausea.

Read about cooling foods

Barley water also reportedly is helpful in the management of urinary tract infections, as a mild detox, and in assisting with weight loss. So how do you make barley water?

Surprisingly, there are scores of recipes for making barley water, but the following example is one of the most basic approaches.

Barley Water Recipe
½ to 2/3 cups pearled or hulled barley
4 cups of water
Dash of salt

Rinse the barley in a sieve or colander before using. Simmer the ingredients in a pot for about 15 minutes. Cool and then place in a blender and pulse for about 30 seconds. Strain the liquid through a filter or fine sieve.

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Hint: Don’t throw the soaked barley away; keep it for adding to other recipes such as soups and stews or cook it a little longer and enjoy it as a breakfast cereal.

If you prefer a non-cook method for barley water, see the video below.

You are then free to either enjoy the barley water as is or perk it up with any of the following:

  • A twist of lemon or lime. You also can add 1 sliced organic lemon to the pot when simmering. Remove the lemon before you put the mixture into the blender!
  • Sweetener. Some people like to add a little honey or other sweetener to their barley water
  • Cherries or berries. Puree cherries, strawberries, blueberries, or other berries and stir into the cooled barley water before serving
  • Grated ginger (1 tablespoon, more or less according to taste) can be added to the recipe as well
  • Add a cinnamon stick to the barley water as it cools

Read about apple cinnamon water

If you want to help manage a urinary tract infection. Boil ½ cup of hulled barley in 4 cups of water and allow it to reduce to about 2 cups. Cool and drink 2 to 4 ounces of the barley water several times a day.

Barley water may also be helpful if you are pregnant, since it may reduce morning sickness and nausea. The fiber in barley water also may be beneficial in preventing hemorrhoids, a common complaint during pregnancy.

A word of caution is in order. If you suffer with celiac disease, barley water should not be on your menu because it contains gluten. For everyone else, barley water may be one of the more healthful beverages you can enjoy!

Read about infused waters
Check out a variety of other plant waters

Behall KM et al. Diets containing barley significantly reduce lipids in mildly hypercholesterolemic men and women. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2004 Nov; 80(5): 1185-93
The World’s Healthiest Foods

Photo: Flickr/David Leonhardt