You may want to add barley to your diet as a new study has revealed that it can lower not one, but two types of bad cholesterol associated with cardiovascular risk.
The St Michael’s Hospital research paper found that barley reduced both low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and non-high-density lipoprotein (non-HDL), by seven per cent.
The review — which included 14 studies on clinical trials conducted in seven countries, including Canada — also indicated that barley had similar cholesterol-lowering effects as oats, which is often the go-to grain for health benefits.
“The findings are most important for populations at high risk for cardiovascular disease — such as Type 2 diabetics — who have normal levels of LDL cholesterol, but elevated levels of non-HDL or apo B,” said research scientist Dr Vladimir Vuksan, adding “Barley has a lowering effect on the total bad cholesterol in these high-risk individuals, but can also benefit people without high cholesterol.”
Despite its benefits, Dr Vuksan said barley is not as well-established as some other health-recommended foods — such as oats. Barley consumption by humans has fallen by 35 per cent in the last 10 years. Canada is one of the top five world producers of barley — almost 10 megatonnes per year — but human consumption accounts for only two per cent of the crop yield, with livestock making up the other 98 per cent.
“After looking at the evidence, we can also say that barley is comparably effective as oats in reducing overall risk of cardiovascular disease” said Dr Vuksan. He added that barley can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. He recommends trying to incorporate barley into existing recipes, using it as a substitute for rice or even on its own — just like oatmeal.
The study has been published in The European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.