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Pearl barley porridge and its benefits: Dietitian's explanation

Pearl barley porridge and its benefits: Dietitian's explanation Illustrative photo (Freepik)
Author: Maria Kholina

Maintaining a balance of vitamins and minerals is crucial for overall health, and one excellent source of these elements is pearl barley. Due to its high content of beneficial substances, including protein and fiber, porridge made of it is often referred to as the "porridge of youth," according to dietitian Svitlana Fus.

Pearl barley benefits

According to Fus, grains, regardless of the type chosen - barley, oats, wheat, buckwheat, or other whole grains - offer numerous health benefits. They are known for their slow digestion, providing a prolonged feeling of satiety. The choice of a specific grain should align with personal preferences and health conditions, says the dietitian.

Pearl barley is among the healthy grains with high nutritional value.

"It can be used to make tasty, satisfying, and nutritious dishes. Its cheap price allows for regular inclusion in your diet. However, we tend to overlook this beneficial product, as it is not as popular as buckwheat or oats," emphasizes the expert.

The foundation of pearl barley is barley, with these grains containing not only fiber but also a significant amount of protein - approximately 15% per 100 grams. They also offer a wide range of minerals and vitamins, including potassium, calcium, iron, phosphorus, copper, zinc, selenium, and vitamins B, PP, and E.

"We can consume barley in the form of two types of grains - pearl barley and barley groats. Barley groats is cracked barley grain that retains more fiber, while pearl barley consists of hulled and partially polished whole barley grains with remnants of fruit and seed husks," explains Fus.

She highlights that pearl barley is often called the "beauty porridge" or "youth porridge" due to its lysine content, an amino acid essential for collagen production. Lysine contributes to skin elasticity, preventing the formation of wrinkles. The presence of vitamins B and E in pearl barley helps maintain healthy nails, hair, and skin.

Despite its beneficial properties, not everyone can consume pearl barley, as it contains gluten and should be avoided by those with celiac disease. Additionally, pearl barley may cause excessive gas formation, a consideration for individuals with gastrointestinal disorders.

How to cook barley

As for cooking pearl barley, it pairs well as a side dish with meat and fish. It can be prepared with meat, mushrooms, vegetables, and greens. There are also variations of dishes with fruits and dried fruits. Pearl barley can be used to make meatballs, soups, risottos, and stuffed cabbage rolls. It can even be used as a stuffing for poultry.

Before cooking the porridge, soak the pearl barley - take a liter of water for every cup of rinsed barley and let it soak for about 10-12 hours. This pre-soaking ensures quick cooking while preserving all its beneficial properties. For a fluffier texture, adding a bit of oil is recommended.