NATURES BEAUTY - BARLEY

Barley is one of the oldest domesticated cereal grains still being grown around the world today. It originated in Ethiopia and southeast Asia. It is most often used in bread and malted beverages such as beer (barley beer was likely one of the first alcoholic drinks humans developed). Over the centuries, barley water has been used for various medicinal purposes; it is good for clearing up urinary tract infections and is also said to be a good remedy for kidney stones.

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NATURES BEAUTY - CRANBERRIES

What would our Thanksgiving Day feasts be without cranberries? This staple of our holiday dinner has a long, proud history in the United States. According to the Cranberry Marketing Committee (uscranberries.com), Native Americans used cranberries as a food staple as early as 1550. They ate them fresh and mashed them with cornmeal and baked them into bread. They used maple sugar or honey to sweet them. They also mixed cranberries with wild game and melted fat to make pemmican.

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NATURES BEAUTY - MISTLETOE

My mother loved decorating for the holidays. From the tree in the den to the lights around all the windows and a big Santa decal on the front door, she was all in. She would also hang a sprig of (fake) mistletoe, complete with sharp-edged leaves and white berries, from the lintel of the doorway between the living room and the kitchen. She and my father always shared the first kiss under the mistletoe after she put it up.

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NATURES BEAUTY - BARLEY

Barley is one of the oldest domesticated cereal grains still being grown around the world today. It originated in Ethiopia and southeast Asia. It is most often used in bread and malted beverages such as beer (barley beer was likely one of the first alcoholic drinks humans developed). Over the centuries, barley water has been used for various medicinal purposes; it is good for clearing up urinary tract infections and is also said to be a good remedy for kidney stones. The drink is prepared by mixing barley flour with water. During the Middle Ages, wheat was very expensive and not widely available, so many Europeans of the time made bread from a combination of barley and rye. English and Dutch settlers brought barley to the United States, and this country is a top producer of the grain. In recent years, barley ranked fourth behind corn, rice and wheat in terms of quantity produced.


Barley’s health benefits are hard to beat. According to Medical News Today, barley provides a high percentage of the daily requirement of selenium, which is not found in most foods. Selenium detoxifies cancer-causing compounds, stimulates the production of killer T cells and inhibits the proliferation of cancer cells. It also has been shown to reduce the risk of colon cancer. Barley has been shown to help lower blood pressure naturally because it contains potassium, calcium and magnesium. Its iron, phosphorous and zinc help build and strengthen bones.

Its folate and vitamin B6 support heart health by preventing the buildup of homocysteine, which can damage blood vessels. Other minerals in barley include manganese and copper. Barley has no cholesterol but it does have plenty of fiber, and that promotes regularity and digestive tract health. That fiber is also high in beta glucan, which lowers cholesterol by binding to bile acids and removing them from the body. And it helps regulate blood sugar levels in people who have diabetes.


Barley is usually available in two forms: hulled and pearled. With hulled barley, the inedible outer shell is removed, leaving the bran and germ intact. If you want to cook with hulled barley, it must be soaked overnight to draw out its flavor and texture, then drained and rinsed. With pearled barley, the layer of bran has been removed along with the hull. Pearl barley is not as chewy as hulled barley and cooks more quickly, but it also has fewer nutrients and is not considered to be whole grain. Whole grains are important sources of dietary fiber, vitamins and minerals. Numerous studies suggest increasing the consumption of plant foods will lower your risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease. You can add barley to your diet by using it in soups, stews, salad or bread. Replace your morning

can add barley to your diet by using it in soups, stews, salad or bread. Replace your morning oatmeal with a warm bowl of barley. A study showed barley was much more effective in reducing both glucose and insulin responses than oats. Barley contains gluten, so if you have celiac disease, it is best to avoid eating it.


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TANYA TYLER

Tanya Tyler is the Editor of Health & Wellness Magazine

more articles by Tanya Tyler