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Barley Reduces Appetite, Lowers Blood Sugar

by Sandy Todd Webster on May 11, 2016

Food Focus

A recent study from Lund University in Sweden shows that barley can rapidly improve health by reducing blood sugar levels and lowering the risk for diabetes. The secret lies in the special mixture of dietary fibers found in barley, which can also curb appetite and reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease, say researchers.

“It is surprising yet promising that choosing the right blend of dietary fibers can—in a short period of time—generate such remarkable health benefits,” said Anne Nilsson, PhD, associate professor at Lund’s Food for Health Science Centre and one of the principal researchers. The study, published in the British Journal of Nutrition (2015; 114 [06], 899-907) was conducted with healthy middle-aged participants who were asked to eat bread largely made out of barley kernels for 3 days—at breakfast, lunch and dinner. Approximately 11-14 hours after their final meal of the day, participants were examined for risk indicators of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Researchers found that participants’ metabolism improved for up to 14 hours, with additional benefits such as decreases in blood sugar and insulin levels, increases in insulin sensitivity and improved appetite control. The effects increased when the special mixture of dietary fibers in barley kernel reached the gut, stimulating an increase in “good” bacteria and the release of important hormones.

“After [study subjects ate] the bread made out of barley kernel, we saw an increase in gut hormones that regulate metabolism and appetite, and an increase in a hormone that helps reduce chronic low-grade inflammation, among the participants. In time this could help prevent the occurrence of both cardiovascular disease and diabetes,” Nilsson said.

The bread used in the study was made from 85% barley kernels, which had been boiled and mixed with wheat flour. If you want to reduce the amount of barley, you can replace some of it with more wheat or other whole grains.

IDEA Food and Nutrition Tips, Volume 5, Issue 3

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About the Author

Sandy Todd Webster

Sandy Todd Webster IDEA Author/Presenter

Sandy Todd Webster is Editor in Chief of IDEA's publications, including the award-winning IDEA FITNESS JOURNAL and IDEA FOOD & NUTRITION TIPS, the industry's leading resources for fitness, wellness and nutrition professionals worldwide. Sandy joined IDEA in 2001 as executive editor of IDEA PERSONAL TRAINER and IDEA FITNESS MANAGER magazines and was promoted to lead the editorial team in 2003. More than 20 years in magazine publishing, marketing communications and creative services have shaped her straightforward approach to multi-channel communication. Early experience in Los Angeles as a sports writer/reporter, and then enriching years as a managing editor in allied health care publishing have pulled her across a spectrum of stimulating subject matter. Fitness, health and nutrition reside at the perfect center of this content continuum, she feels. A Chicago native, Sandy grew up fully engaged in various competitive sports. Her drive and dedication as an athlete translate to a disciplined work ethic and unwavering approach to challenge in her career. Shortly after graduating journalism school from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, she was recruited to L.A. for her first post in magazine publishing. After two decades of working on magazines--and now in the throes of applying the unbelieveable multi-media content delivery options available in the magazine 2.0 world--she is still "completely in love" with the creative process it takes to deliver meaningful, inspirational content to end users. She is an accomplished home cook and gardner who would love to combine those skills and passions with her health and fitness background to continue educating readers about a well-balanced, healthy lifestyle.