Barley has dozens of uses, from making beer to making bread. However, there’s more to this plant than just the grain — it’s also a nutritious vegetable.
Barley grass, sometimes called barley greens, comes from young barley plants that haven’t started making seeds. During this stage of the plant’s life, it’s full of nutrients that help it grow larger leaves and seeds. You can take advantage of those barley grass benefits by eating the grass while it’s young.
Barley grass is a popular ingredient at juice bars, where it’s added to juices and smoothies in a powder form. It can also be turned into a bright green juice without other ingredients. Either way, the nutritional benefits of barley grass are impressive.
Barley grass offers a variety of health benefits because of the minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants it contains. For example, it has a lot of magnesium, which is the fourth-most-common mineral in your body. Magnesium is a key part of more than three hundred enzyme reactions, making it essential to your health. Magnesium is particularly important for energy production and glucose control.
Barley grass is rich in vitamins A and C, which act as antioxidants. These vitamins help fight off free radicals that can damage your body. They help carry free radicals out of the body and lower your risk of problems ranging from decreased skin elasticity to breast and colon cancer.
Barley grass is a great source of dietary fiber. The soluble and insoluble fiber that barley grass provides helps digestion in two ways: First, insoluble fiber feeds the “good bacteria” living in your gut, helping you digest food efficiently and keeping your intestines healthy. Second, soluble dietary fiber helps your stomach absorb sugar more slowly, keeping your blood sugar and cholesterol levels lower.
Calcium is the main building block of bones, and having a good source of calcium in your diet is vital for bone health. The calcium found in barley grass can help prevent or reverse osteoporosis. It can also help keep your teeth healthy, especially when combined with the phosphorus that’s also found in barley grass.
Reduced Risk of Heart Disease and Stroke
The soluble dietary fiber in wheat grass can help wash extra cholesterol out of your body. It absorbs the cholesterol before it ever makes it into your blood, keeping cholesterol levels lower and reducing your risk of heart attacks and strokes. It even lowers the risk of heart disease.
Nutrients per Serving
A tablespoon of powdered barley grass contains:
- Calories: 20
- Protein: 2 grams
- Fat: 0 grams
- Carbohydrates: 2 grams
- Fiber: 0 grams
- Sugar: 1 gram
Barley grass is rich in amino acids, which are important building blocks for proteins in the body. The nine essential amino acids barley grass provides helps the body repair muscles, blood vessels, and even bone marrow.
Barley grass is also a good source of:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin A
The essential amino acids in barley grass are complete, making it one of the most nutrient-dense foods in the world. Most plants do not provide all the essential amino acids that the human body needs. Barley grass can provide every amino acid, helping people who eat plant-based diets to get the nutrition they need.
How to Prepare Barley Grass
Barley grass is typically consumed as part of a juice, because the texture can be unpleasant to eat. You can grow your own barley grass and juice it yourself, or you can buy barley grass extract as a powder. Barley grass juice can be found at juice bars, in health food stores, and even in some larger supermarkets around the country.
If you’re interested in adding barley grass juice to your diet, consider the following options:
- Drink barley grass juice on its own
- Add barley grass juice to smoothies
- Include a tablespoon of barley grass powder in protein shakes
- Add barley grass juice to cocktails
- Use barley grass juice in zucchini bread