When you think of a grain to lower cholesterol levels oatmeal is probably at the top of the list; however, barley is another great option. Barley contains the same soluble fiber and beta-glucan as oats. Individuals who regularly consume barley have lower LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, and total cholesterol.
The results of eight studies including 391 participants found barley consumption linked to decreased total cholesterol of 13 mg/dl, decreased LDL cholesterol of 10 mg/dl, and a reduced triglyceride level of 12 mg/dl. The review found no relationship between barley intake and HDL cholesterol. Individuals in these studies consumed between 3-10 grams of beta-glucan daily. Beta-glucans are a type soluble fiber.
There are two types of dietary fiber - soluble and insoluble. You want to include between 25-35 grams of dietary fiber in your diet everyday. Of this, soluble fiber should make up 15 grams. Soluble fiber promotes lower total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels.
Barley is unique in that it contains fiber throughout the entire grain kernel. For most grains, when the outer bran layer is removed you've also removed the fiber. This isn't the case with barley. Pearled barley is the easiest form of barley to find. Even though the grain is processed to remove the hull, bran, and some of the inner layer, it still provides 3 grams of dietary fiber in a half cup serving. Other varieties of barley include scotch or pot barley, barley flakes, quick-cooking barley, and hulled or hull-less barley.
In 2006, the FDA approved barley products for the health claim: "Soluble fiber from foods such as barley, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease. . . ." Including barley as a regular part of your diet is a nutritious and simple way to promote heart health, lower LDL cholesterol, and lower total cholesterol levels.
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Published On: July 20, 2009