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Diabetes Developments - A blog on latest developments in diabetes by David Mendosa

Naked Barley: The Best Grain

February 16th, 2007 · 10 Comments

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Pearl barley has by far the lowest glycemic index of any grain ever tested. Its GI is 25. Next lowest is rye, but only in the form of its whole kernels, with a GI of 34. Low glycemic is good for people with diabetes, because it has little effect on our blood glucose levels.
But pearl barley is not a whole grain, according to the National Barley Foods Council. When processors prepare pearl barley, we lose some of the insoluble fiber, trace minerals, and micronutrients.
The government’s “Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005” encourages us to eat whole grains. Its definition of a whole grain is one that “must retain nearly the same relative proportions of bran, germ, and endosperm as the original grain.”
If we look hard enough, we can get the whole grain form of barley. It almost certainly has an even lower glycemic index than pearl barley.
Whole grain barley goes by many names. Most common is “hulless barley,” at least according to a Google search, which returns 31,300 hits. But 16,000 sites call it “hull-less barley.” Even less common is “hullless barley,” with just 61 hits.
Because all those letter “l’s” come together, the name is awkward. I prefer to call it “naked barley.” Anyway, that’s what processors often call it. It’s not what most people have in mind when they put a “Get Naked” bumper sticker on their cars, but it’s probably a better idea.
You can get naked barley, aka hulless barley, at some of the larger Wild Oats stores. A great Internet and mail order source of hulless barley that I have used for years is Bob’s Red Mill Natural Foods in Milwaukie, Oregon.
Naked barley has a pleasant chewy texture and more fiber and nutritional value than pearl barley. Unlike most grains, it takes 4 cups of water to every cup of barley. I learned that lesson early on, when I used just a 2 to 1 proportion and produced something that was almost inedible.
Nowadays, I cook it in a small rice cooker that has become solely my barley cooker. I add the naked barley to soups – particularly Campbell’s very low sodium cream of mushroom soup, stews, and curries. You can use naked barley everywhere that you formerly used rice.
Naked barley makes a great low-GI breakfast. Sweeten it with Splenda, add some cinnamon and soy milk, and you have a real comfort food.
Whole Control’s Golden Barley Cereal that I wrote about here in November 2005 is a special, all-natural variety of naked (hulless) barley. This is my most frequent breakfast.
In the United States we use barley as food for our animals and as malted barley for the beer industry. There is a new demand for it for in ethanol production. I prefer to drink my malted barley as single malt Scotch whisky print and to eat it naked.

This is a mirror of one of my articles that Health Central published. You can navigate to that site to find my most recent articles.

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10 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Gopalen // Oct 9, 2009 at 8:37 pm

    Dear Mr. Mendosa

    Foxtail Millet is also proving to be a very low GI millet. I am eating it for the last 6 months with phenomenal results. My blood glucose was above 200 8 months ago and i was depressed. I was on oral meds. I switched to Lantus and started eating only fotail millet as staple along with my usual food completely cutting out rice and wheat and potato. This millet fills me up pretty much and my hunger levels reduced. my weight came down from 90 to 78 kgs ifn a short time. I did not feel tiered. I tried this diet on 12 persons who work in my factory and whose glucose levels were more than 120. the age group was 24 to 58. all of them reported better control in a very short period. I contacted Sygney university where Ms. Jeanne Brand miller works and they replied they had not evaluated this millet. I found in another site that Laddu ( an india sweet) made with Amaranth, Foxtail millet soaked in Sugar Syrup had a GI of 24! I found Amaranth had around 80 GI. So I concluded that Foxtail Millet should be below 24. may be 20 or less! It is continuing to pay dividends. I started with 16 units of Lantus and 1000mg of Metformin twice a day. now I am on 11 units and same metformin dose. my glucose lecels are below 100. Please try to propagate this in your web site after you give it a test. It will help all diabetics Thanks . Gopalen.

  • 2 Gopalen // Oct 9, 2009 at 8:54 pm

    Let me add to my previous comments. A roti made with equal parts of flours of Barley , Bengal Gram (channa dal) and Foxtail Millet has a GI of 34. This is from a study in India by Dr. Ankita Sharma PhD and Dr. Maya Chowdry PhD. This can be seen on the web.

    There is another study from Japan and Korea (jointly) on the “Effects of Korean Foxtail Millet on Plasma Adiponectin , HDL- Cholestrol and Insulin Levels in Genetically TypeII Diabetic Mice” which concludes that the Protein of Foxtail Millet is enefial to human health. the abstract is seen in “(www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/bbb/69/1/69_31/_article”. If you are unable to open the site please email me. I will send the full article as an attachment. Thanks. Gopalen

  • 3 David Mendosa // Oct 10, 2009 at 8:15 am

    Dear Gopalen,

    Thanks for sharing your discoveries. I am glad to share your messages on my website.

    Best regards,

    David

  • 4 Brenda Garza // Feb 24, 2010 at 9:27 am

    I would like to know the glycemic index of oat groats and black barley. Thank you.

  • 5 David Mendosa // Feb 27, 2010 at 8:51 pm

    Dear Brenda,

    I’ve never heard of black barley. But if it and oat groats have been tested for their glycemic indexes, they are listed at http://www.mendosa.com/gilists.htm

    Best regards,

    David

  • 6 Pauline Samuel // Sep 21, 2012 at 10:17 am

    Speaking of fiber and diabetes, I use pot barley in soups and bread . Pot barley, I believe, is the closest one can get to having the full fiber benefits for those who are diabetics. It is believed to cure waterlogging in one’s feet as well.

  • 7 Acharya // Jul 14, 2013 at 6:12 pm

    I had an MI (unstable angina) 15 years back. I refused bypass surgery and had medication for a week and stopped it. Then it was all diet,yoga and a number of things. I have been living a normal, active life. The main constituent of my Indian vegetarian diet were oats and barley. Over a period of time it has become largely barley. It is an easy substitute for rice and wheat in almost all cereal dishes. And change was not difficult to accept. barley apart from soluble fibre has beta glucan too. And for the farmer in India the input costs are not high!

  • 8 David Mendosa // Jul 14, 2013 at 6:23 pm

    Dear Acharya,

    Good for you. Hull less barley is much lower glycemic than any other grain.

    Namaste,

    David

  • 9 Marilyn // Mar 26, 2014 at 8:38 am

    I am diabetic and I eat the ancient grain from Tibet known as Brady’s Black Barley. This is an upcoming superfood raised by PostlewaitFarms.com in Canby Oregon. I feel so much better when I eat this barley and have no bloating or tired feeling. Check out this source for other great superfoods i.e. Naked Pumpkin Seeds.

  • 10 David Mendosa // Mar 26, 2014 at 10:25 am

    Dear Marilyn,

    Thank you for writing this for us!

    Namaste,

    David

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