Barley water: benefits, contraindications and recipe

Typical of a few regions of Spain and some Central American countries, barley water it is a refreshing drink with nutritional properties.

Although in recent times it has become fashionable thanks to its health claims, not all of its benefits are backed by science. For this reason, it is convenient to be alert and know something more about it.

What is barley water?

Actually, it is a drink prepared with this cereal that is boiled with water and a little lemon. Once ready, it can be flavored with cinnamon and even sweetened with panela, sugar or honey.

We can find two different versions, because sometimes the water is filtered and the barley grain is discarded. Other times it is kept in the drink.

It is important to take this aspect into account, since the nutritional composition, energy value and the health benefits are very different in both types. The main reason is that when the barley grain is discarded, the fiber is also lost.

5 benefits of drinking barley water

In many of the places where this drink is known, people consume it thanks to its cooling capacity, but also because of the positive effects it can have in preventing some diseases. As we well said, this applies if the drink contains barley grains.

1. Contribution of nutrients

Barley is one of the oldest known grains and is consumed today in regions of the Near East, Northern Europe, and South America.

Although it sounds familiar to many people from its use in brewing, it actually has a very relevant nutritional composition, so it is worth considering it as one more food in the diet. The following contributions stand out:

  • Presence of Soluble fiber.
  • Folates and other vitamins of group B (B1, B3 and B6).
  • Minerals and trace elements as potassium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, selenium, zinc, and copper.
  • Antioxidants.

Barley is known to be a part of beer making, but its water is also common in many cultures.

2. Helps control blood cholesterol levels.

In barley grains there is a very interesting component to combat high levels of cholesterol and other fats in the blood: beta-glucans.

It is a type of soluble fiber present in cereals, although prominently in barley and oats above others such as wheat and rice. In a study published in Americal Journal of Clinical Nutrition there is a greater decrease in total cholesterol and LDL or bad in those diets that contain barley compared to whole wheat.

So much so, that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recognizes the ability of low-cholesterol, high-fiber diets to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Read more: How to prepare a barley remedy against high cholesterol

3. Regulation of glucose levels

There is a review of scientific studies that contrasts the ability of foods with barley to control blood glucose after eating. This action is also due to beta-glucans that lower blood cholesterol.

These two benefits added (control of glucose and blood lipids) reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and they help protect the integrity of the walls of veins and arteries.

4. Helps in digestive processes

The barley grain is a cereal with an abundant amount of soluble fiber. This is beneficial for the digestive system, as it helps to promote the bolus and undigested waste throughout the gastrointestinal tract.

5. To control body weight

Again, it is the presence of fiber that facilitates this action of unfiltered barley water. Many studies support the idea that diets high in this component promote satiety and decrease hunger.

In addition, taken between meals can be a good strategy to avoid eating between meals some snacks with excess calories, fat or sugar.

Barley water contraindications

Many foods and beverages are considered safe for the general public. However, in some people problems or uncomfortable sensations may appear when taking them. This also happens with barley water.

Given this, the best recommendation is to introduce it gradually into the daily dietary routine and abandon its intake if any adverse effect appears. In addition, if you suffer from any disease or take medication, it is necessary to consult your doctor.

Digestive upset

One of its main positive components may also be to blame for its drawbacks. And is that the high amount of fiber found in unfiltered barley water can cause flatulence, gas, bloating, or stomach cramps.

Discover: 5 remedies for stomach pain

High amounts of sugar and calories

Some recipes to make it at home and commercial brands contain high amounts of sugar or other sweeteners among their ingredients. Check the labels carefully before choosing any drink.

In addition, although it is a drink made with water, when it is not filtered its main component is the grains of barley. These provide a moderate amount of energy, so limiting intake is essential.

Not suitable for coeliacs

Barley grains are one of the cereals that contain gluten, therefore, its consumption is contraindicated in those who suffer from celiac disease.

Recipe for preparing barley water at home and how to drink it

To make barley water at home you need the following:

  • 3/4 cup of pearl barley or barley grain.
  • 2 lemons
  • 1/4 cup of honey or sweetener to taste.
  • 6 glasses of water.

The first step is to rinse the barley under running water until it comes out transparent. Put it in a pot with the water and the lemon peel. When the water starts to boil, lower the heat and cook for about 30 minutes.

Once this time has passed, it can be strained and stored in a glass jar or bottle. Reserve the barley grains for later uses: they can be mixed with yogurt, added to a salad or a vegetable soup.

You need to remember that without the barley it is a low calorie drink (depending on the sweetener and the amount used), but it loses all the properties that fiber gives it. You can also keep the barley with the water and take it all together.

With the scientific studies available it is difficult to establish recommended amounts of adequate consumption. In a publication of the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition It is detailed that beta-glucan from barley can have different molecular weights and consequently its effect varies for the same dose.

What does seem reasonable is advise a moderate consumption in combination with a healthy diet and healthy lifestyle habits. These are the pillars along which the intake of the drink allows to obtain the benefits mentioned.

The contraindications of barley water have to do with the digestive disorders that are associated with fiber.

Barley water with grain

Barley water, either filtered or with the grains present, is a drink that offers the possibility to refresh and hydrate with a pleasant taste. But it is necessary to monitor its consumption if it contains added sugar or sweeteners.

When it is made at home, a different and original flavor can be achieved by adding orange, fresh herbs or some spices at the time of packaging. Store in the fridge, preferably in a glass jar or bottle.

While there are potential scientifically supported benefits, it is better to introduce it little by little in the diet and in moderate amounts. Barley water provides valuable nutrients, helps control cholesterol and blood glucose, but it is not a magic drink.

So the best way to get the most out of it is to integrate it into a varied diet based on fresh foods, with physical exercise, enough hours of sleep and good stress management.