Barley offers numerous health benefits to your babies and these include good supply of dietary fiber, strengthens bones, is rich in potassium, has anti-fungal properties, helps in strengthening liver and is rich in copper.
Barley is one of the cereals or staple foods after wheat, rice and oats in the world. In ancient times, barley had been widely consumed in the regions of North Africa, Greece, Syria, Iraq and other Mediterranean regions. Interestingly, barley was not just consumed as a staple food, but it was also used in the production of beer and other alcoholic beverages for thousands of years. It has been used as animal fodder and fish feed as well.
Today, Barley is produced in various countries. Some of the largest producers of barley include Russia, Ukraine, France, Germany, Australia, Canada, Turkey, United Kingdom, Argentina and United States.
As barley has been cultivated for many thousands of years, today, there are many cultivars or varieties of barley available today. Each of the varieties are popular in certain parts of the world or they are easy to grow those parts of the world.
Can barley be included in baby food and when is the right time to introduce barley to your baby?
Barley can be introduced from an early age of 7-8 months. But, one of the issues with barley is that it contains gluten which can increase the risk of developing celiac disease, a condition characterized by the immune system attacking its own body. So, for this reason, barley shouldn’t be the first food to be introduced to your baby. You should give barley only after introducing other safer cereals. If your family has a history of celiac disease, then do not introduce barley right away to your baby. Instead, discuss it with your pediatrician first. Buy only hulled or pearled barley, if the intention is to feed it to your babies. Do not buy whole barley, as the outer layer or germ can make it harder for babies. But, whole barley is good for adults. Also, while and after buying milled barley, make sure that you use barley before the ‘best if used by’ date. This is to avoid the oils in milled barley can go rancid. Refrigerate both milled and un-milled barley for better shelf life.
Health benefits of barley for your babies
Here are some of the health benefits of barley for your babies.
Has good amounts of dietary fiber: Barley is rich in dietary fiber in it which makes it an ideal cereal for babies. The dietary fiber helps in free bowel movement and keeps your baby healthier and stronger from the inside. The healthier the gut, the healthier the baby!
Helps in strengthening bones: Barley has high amounts of phosphorus and copper. Phosphorus is the second element that makes up our bones apart from calcium. And there is a lot of stress on having calcium rich food in mainstream but most people forget about phosphorus. For healthy bones, you need both calcium and phosphorus.
Has good amounts of copper as well: Barley is also rich in the element copper. Copper plays a crucial role in your baby’s health. Presence of copper is required for proper iron absorption into the blood. Thus, no matter how much of iron-rich food you might give to your child, it can all be waste, when there is no copper that helps in absorbing iron.
Rich in potassium: Barley is also rich in potassium. Potassium acts as an electrolyte. One of the issues with potassium is that most of our diet has more of sodium and less of potassium, which should be the exact opposite. It must be high in potassium and low in sodium. The result of high sodium and less potassium is evident from the fact that many adults today either have high risk of hypertension or are already suffering from hypertension.
Can help in strengthening the liver: Certain studies have shown that barley can be effective in protecting the liver. The amount of liver damage before and after feeding lab rats with barley showed that barley had a notable effect in protecting the liver against damage.
Possesses anti-fungal properties: Studies indicate the barley seeds can be effective against fungi attacks on the body. Studies show that barley seeds contain certain biochemicals such as biflavones, proanthocyanidins, chrysoerials, etc which are known to possess anti-fungal properties.
Nutrients found in Barley
According to the National Nutrient Database, from the United States Department of Agriculture, the nutrition found in Barley includes
|Nutrition Component||Value per 100 g||Nutrition Component||Value per 100 g|
|Water||9.44 g||Energy||354 kcal|
|Protein||12.5 g||Total Lipid||2.3 g|
|Carbohydrate||73.5 g||Calcium||33 mg|
|Iron||3.6 g||Magnesium||133 mg|
|Phosphorus||264 mg||Potassium||453 mg|
|Zinc||2.77 mg||Copper||0.49 mg|
|Thiamin||0.646 mg||Riboflavin||0.285 mg|
|Niacin||4.6 mg||Vitamin B-6||0.318 mg|
|Folate||19 ug||Vitamin A||22 IU|
|Vitamin E||0.57 mg||Vitamin K||2.2 mg|