Barley Grass Benefits: 5 Reasons to Love This Super Green

We try not to play favorites, but of all the superfoods - green superfoods are the one type of superfood we recommend everyone include as part of their daily diet. Why? Well, first of all, when we say 'green superfoods,' we're referring to young cereal grasses like barley grass and wheatgrass as well as algae like spirulina and chlorella.

These green superfoods are nutritionally very, very close to dark green leafy vegetables - which, as you know, are some of the best veggies you can consume. The difference? Green superfoods pack an even greater nutritional punch. Ounce for ounce, superfoods like barley grass and spirulina contain much more of the beneficial phytonutrients.​

What is Barley Grass?

Barley grass has become one of the frontrunners in the recent superfood craze, and rightly so.

Although it has been around for millennia, barely grass first saw exposure in the West in the early 1930’s, where it was introduced in capsule form as the first commercial multivitamin supplement.

Little wonder why since young barley leaves contain all the vitamins, minerals and proteins necessary for the human diet, plus chlorophyll.

benefits of barley grass

Before that, the short green cereal grass was used for thousands of years in traditional African and Asian medicine to prevent and treat a variety of ailments.

It is now commonly found in health food stores all across the world in powder and pill formats. Some health conscious consumers opt to grow their own at home, and consume fresh barley grass in juices instead.

Regardless of whether ingested fresh or as a supplement, barley grass has proven again and again to be one of the most powerful superfoods available today. It is packed full of important health promoting vitamins and minerals, and presents a myriad of health benefits.

Let’s take a look at some of the most significant…

Barley Grass Benefits

​Even if you've never had barley grass, you've most certainly had barley at some point in your life. Which might lead you to wonder...what's the difference between barley grass and whole grain barley?

barley green
barley grass

Good question! Especially since the answer explains the unique benefits of barley grass.

You see, the interesting thing about cereal grasses like barley grass and wheatgrass is that at the early grass stage of their growth, these grasses are more ‘vegetable’ than ‘grain.’ The young leaves have a tremendous ability to absorb nutrients from the soil, which is why these green superfoods are so nutrition-rich.

Unfortunately, these green cereal grasses lose their superfood-stardom as they grow – their nutrient profiles change and the chlorophyll, protein and vitamin content of cereal grasses decreases while the level of indigestible fiber (cellulose) increases.

So get ’em while they’re young – that’s when barley grass has the most to offer, like...

1. A HIGH CONCENTRATION OF CHLOROPHYLL

You may fondly remember chlorophyll from your high school biology classes. In case not, it is the green pigment found in the cells of plants and algae that plays an important role in photosynthesis.

Barley grass contains particularly high concentrations of the compound, which apart from helping to convert sunlight into useable energy, presents a wide range of health benefits. Like what, you ask? Here’s a rundown of the benefits of chlorophyll…

  • Chlorophyll has anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and wound-healing properties. It can help combat acne and other impurities and infections on the skin by aiding our body's tissue in destroying germs.
  • This green stuff is a rich, natural source of magnesium - something our bodies need but many of us are deficient in. You see, the molecular structure of chlorophyll is pretty much identical to hemoglobin (the red blood cells that transport oxygen to blood) except for the center atom - in hemoglobin, the center atom is iron. In chlorophyll, it's magnesium. This magnesium is super important since it helps to deliver much needed oxygen to cells and tissues. It also has a highly alkalizing effect on the body and is thought to be critical for our cardiovascular, digestive, and nervous systems as well as for proper functioning of muscles, kidneys, liver, hormone-secreting glands, and even our brains.
  • Chlorophyll is rich in antioxidants such as vitamins A, C, E that help fight inflammation and neutralize free radicals, the harmful molecules in the body that can damage healthy cells.
  • Chlorophyll is one of the most important, natural chelates - chlorophyll has the ability to bind to toxins and heavy metals in the liver, helping to detoxify the body. It has also been linked to improved symptoms of arthritis, and enhanced digestion.
  • This green pigment also has been found to have anti-carcinogenic effects. It blocks the metabolism of pro-carcinogens that damage DNA and protects against air-borne carcinogens from pollution as well as toxins from cooked meats.
  • And an extra bonus...chlorophyll is an effective odor deodorizer - fighting bad breath and body odor from the inside out. It's also been known to reduce urinary and fecal odors, in case you were wondering.

2. Alkalizes Our Acidic Internal Environments

Barley grass is alkaline in nature and it is thought that consuming it regularly alongside a healthy diet can help to encourage the body towards a more alkaline state.

Inflammation is the precursor to many chronic diseases, and it thrives in an acidic environment. As a result of poor dietary choices and stressful lifestyles, the body of the standard westerner typically leans towards the acidic end of the spectrum.

Making the body less acidic and more alkaline can help to reduce inflammation. As well as reducing the risk of developing various diseases, it is believed that less inflammation can help to soothe symptoms of arthritis and inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s and colitis. It may also help to speed up recovery after exercise, increasing your performance and reducing your risk of injury.

3. Packed Full of Nutrients

Barley grass is seriously nutritionally dense, containing a wide range of vitamins and minerals that are crucial for maintaining a healthy, functioning body. It's actually said to be the only vegetable on earth which can supply all the nutrients the human body needs from youth to old age.

A serving of the cereal grass will provide you with a selection of different micronutrients, including:

B-Vitamins: These help to produce red blood cells and maintain the nervous system.

Vitamin A: essential to help support the immune system and maintain eye health.

Vitamin K: involved in clotting the blood and healing wounds.

Vitamin E: helps to strengthen the immune system and acts as an antioxidant.

Magnesium: involved in more than 300 chemical reactions in the body.

Iron: plays a role in the production of red blood cells.

Potassium: helps to build muscle and control the electrical activity of the heart.

Calcium: essential for maintaining a strong skeletal system

And with barley grass, it's not just a matter of what nutrients it contains but the potency of the dosage - barley grass is believed to have 30 times more vitamin B1 and 11 times the calcium of cow's milk, nearly 7 times as much carotene and almost 5 times the iron content of spinach, and around 7 times the vitamin C found in oranges.

4. Full of Anti-Aging Anti-Oxidants

Our bodies are constantly under attack from free radicals, natural by-products of environmental stressors and normal bodily processes. Left untamed, these free radicals cause oxidation of cells and DNA, accelerating the aging process and increasing our risk of many different chronic diseases.

Barley grass is rich in antioxidants like Vitamin E and beta carotene, which help to combat the effects of free radicals, protecting our cells from damage. It's also packing thousands of enzymes and has one of the highest natural levels of enzymes SOD (superoxide dismutase), which is yet another powerful antioxidant. Not only does this help to defend us against a wide range of diseases, it can also slow down the aging process, helping us to say healthy and active as time passes by.

Bonus: Boosts your immunity, too.

5. A Protein Powerhouse

Protein is an important macronutrient that is involved in the growth and repair of muscle tissue. It also helps to control blood sugar levels and maintain satiety, reducing the likelihood of overeating.

When we hear ‘protein’, most of us think of animal products, but somewhat surprisingly, barley grass is packed full of it! In a juice format, barley leaf can be contain up to 45% protein, compared to ground beef which comes in at less than 40%.

An additional benefit is that the protein found in barley grass are polypeptides - smaller proteins that are easily and directly absorbed by the blood to promote cell metabolism. And it's not just protein you're getting - barley grass also packs a range of amino acids, 18 in total - including 8 essential amino acids.

Even better is the fact that you're getting a load of important micronutrients along with the protein minus saturated fats and cholesterol.

Other Barley Grass Benefits Include...

  • Exceptionally high in organic sodium, which fights calcium deposits on joints as well as replenished organic sodium in the lining of the stomach, boosting digestion.
  • Thanks to its alkalizing nature, barley grass is beneficial for relieving inflammatory diseases like arthritis

Where to Buy Barley Grass

Barley grass can be enjoyed in a variety of ways, and each presents their benefits. Many people choose to grow their own at home on a windowsill, then either include the grass in salads, or add it to juices and smoothies.

Barley grass is also available in capsule format, and as a bright green powder that is soluble in water. The powder can also be added to cereal bars and baked goods to improve their nutritional profile.

The possibilities are endless!

 

About the Author Jessica

After growing up a perpetually pudgy kid, Jessica discovered real food – and her waistline shortly afterward. When she’s not crafting concoctions in the kitchen, she spends her free time writing about food, making her own deodorant, watching sci-fi, doing headstands, and looking for gluten free food that doesn’t suck.

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