Dietary fibers in barley can contribute to reducing appetite and blood sugar levels, says a new study. The researchers also noted that barley can also rapidly improve people's health by reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.
"It is surprising yet promising that choosing the right blend of dietary fibers can -- in a short period -- generate such remarkable health benefits," said Anne Nilsson from Lund University in Sweden.
The study was conducted with healthy middle-aged participants who were asked to eat bread largely made out of barley kernels (up to 85 percent) for three days -- at breakfast, lunch and dinner.
The researchers found that the participants' metabolism improved for up to 14 hours, with additional benefits such as decreases in blood sugar and insulin levels, increases in insulin sensitivity and improved appetite control.
The effects arise when the special mixture of dietary fibers in barley kernel reaches the gut, stimulating the increase of good bacteria and the release of important hormones, the researchers said.
"After eating the bread made out of barley kernel, we saw an increase in gut hormones that regulate metabolism and appetite, and an increase in a hormone that helps reduce chronic low-grade inflammation, among the participants. In time this could help prevent the occurrence of both cardiovascular disease and diabetes," said Anne Nilsson.
The ambition is also to get more people to use barley in meals, for example in salads, soups, stews, or as an alternative to rice or potatoes.