Barley Can Improve Blood Sugar Levels

Barley can help to lower blood sugar levels and reduce diabetes risk, according to a new study from Lund University.

The unique mixture of dietary fibers hold the key to barley's health benefits, researchers report, which also include a lowered risk for cardiovascular disease.

"It is surprising yet promising that choosing the right blend of dietary fibers can - in a short period of time - generate such remarkable health benefits," said Anne Nilsson, study co-author.

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Participants in the study were asked to eat bread made largely out of barley for three days. Researchers found that the subjects' metabolism improved for up to 14 hours, while blood sugar and insulin levels also decreased after barley consumption.

Barley and gut bacteria

A previous study from Sweden found that barley can also help to increase a specific type of gut bacteria, Prevotella copri, which helps to regulate blood sugar levels and decrease the population of "bad" bacteria in the intenstines.

A press release on the study elaborated:

The effects from barley kernel are influenced by the composition of the individual's gut microbiota, meaning people with low concentrations of the Prevotella copri bacteria experienced less effect from their intake of barley products. Eating more barley could, however, help stimulate growth of the bacteria.

Barley is found in certain bread products, but consumers can also add barley kernels to salads, soups or stews.

Source: Lund University

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