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A recent study from Lund University in Sweden showed that regularly eating whole-grain barley can lower blood sugar levels and strengthen insulin sensitivity. It also improved the metabolism rate of study participants and helped control appetite by keeping them full longer. Researchers fed healthy, middle-aged participants bread consisting mostly of boiled barley kernels at every meal for three days, and then checked them for risk factors associated with type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Within 11 to 14 hours of eating dinner, participants showed a decrease in blood sugar levels, improved metabolism rates and an increase in insulin sensitivity, meaning the body is reacting to insulin the way that it should. The overall result was a reduced risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Barley’s superpowers stem from its fiber content, which promotes healthy bacteria in the gut and releases hormones that help control appetite, regulate insulin and reduce inflammation. If the idea of barley bread at every meal doesn’t sound appetizing, start with adding barley to soups and stews, or use it in place of rice and potatoes to complement your meals.