Have you ever cooked barley and felt a little sad dumping the extra water down the drain? Enter your new fave wellness drink: barley water.
You can make your own at home, but you can also buy it bottled. Here are the deets on barley water’s benefits and how to decide if it’s the right drink for you.
Benefits of barley water
Barley water isn’t trying to fool anyone with a jazzy name. It’s simply water that’s been cooked with barley.
You can strain out all of the barley, or leave it in to get even more does-the-body-good benefits, including:
- keeping cholesterol down
- lowering blood sugar
- promoting weight loss
- boosting your vitamins and antioxidants
- helping support digestion
- supporting your immune system
- reducing your risk of developing cancer *maybe*
1. Keeps cholesterol down
Looking for your cholesterol levels to drop like it’s hot? Sipping on barley water may be able to help.
One small 2007 study showed that barley extracts have chemicals (tocols) that may help lower LDL levels (the bad cholesterol). That’s good news for your heart health.
Too much LDL cholesterol in your blood can lead to a buildup of plaque in your arteries. Over time, that can increase your risk of developing heart conditions.
2. Lowers blood sugar
Unstrained barley water may even be able to help keep your blood sugar at a manageable level. A 2013 research review showed that it can curb a blood sugar spike after you eat a meal.
This may be especially beneficial if you have diabetes and you’re looking for post-meal ways to lower your blood sugar. Just keep in mind that it’s not a substitute for any treatments your doctor prescribes to help you manage type 2 diabetes.
FYI: Make sure to check with your doctor before adding barley water into your diet.
3. Promotes weight loss
If you’re on a weight loss journey, adding a bit of barley water into your routine could help. Unstrained barley water’s filled with fiber. That not only helps keep your digestion process running smoothly, but can help you feel full longer.
It also contains very little fat with the hydrating power of H2O. When paired with a nutritious diet and exercise, barley water can help you manage your weight for the long haul.
4. Gives a boost of vitamins and antioxidants
Barley’s packed with vitamins and antioxidants, like iron, copper, manganese, and the B vitamin folate. Pearl barley and hulled barley have all these nutrients, so you can use either to make your barley water!
Antioxidants are great for managing cell growth and fighting nasty free-radicals. Barley helps your bod say bye-bye to oxidative stress. That stress means the DNA of your cells is being changed. It can increase your risk of developing some conditions and worsen inflammation.
5. Helps support digestion
Drinking unstrained barley water gives your body the digestive fiber it needs to get things flowing… literally.
Why’s that a good thing? Digestive fiber is a key part of how food moves through your stomach and out the *um* other end. Barley water can help keep you hydrated (and hydrated poops are happy poops.)
You’re also boosting your body’s awesome ability to process toxins and banish water weight. Ready to have productive poos *and* banish bloat? Pour yourself a glass.
6. Supports your immune system
Barley’s chock-full of vitamins, minerals, and free-radical fighting properties. This makes it great for helping keep your immune system in tip-top shape.
Wanna give your barley an extra boost? Adding a lemon peel or orange rind to your barley water can infuse it with extra flavor and some sweet vitamin C.
7. Reduces your risk of developing cancer *maybe*
The antioxidants in barley are an important way that it may help prevent some cancers. A study suggested that the antioxidants in barley can keep colon cancer cells from reproducing.
Another study showed that getting plenty of fiber (like the fiber in unstrained barley water) has also been linked to a lower risk of developing some types of colon cancer.
But that’s not all barley water brings to the table. Barley also has ferulic acid in it. That acid might help prevent tumors.
FYI: All of this research is promising, but more studies are needed to know exactly what this relationship is.
Making your own barley water is easy-peasy lemon-squeezy. Literally — you can just squeeze some lemons! How you make your barley water is up to you. You can strain out the grains, or leave them in for an extra boost of nutrients.
You can also customize your barley water by mixing in a little lemon or adding a touch of sweetness with honey or stevia.
DIY lemon barley water
Here’s what you’ll need for 6 cups of lemon barley water:
- 3/4 cup pearl barley
- 6 cups water
- 2 lemons (both the peel and the juice)
- 1/2 cup honey (optional)
Here’s how to make it:
- Rinse the barley with cold water until the water runs clear.
- Combine the barley, lemon, and water in a medium saucepan and boil over medium heat.
- Once it begins to boil, turn the heat down and simmer for 15 to 30 minutes.
- Strain the mixture into a bowl and toss the barley.
- Stir in honey until it dissolves.
- Pour into a glass container and chill in the fridge.
- Sip and enjoy!
FYI: Adding honey will add sugar. If you’re looking for a sugar-free sub, use a pinch of stevia instead.
Sure, barley water has plenty of benefits. But there are also potential risks to be aware of, including:
- High fiber content. Unstrained barley water’s high fiber content can be a good thing. But drinking too much may cause some poo probs, like constipation or loose stools.
- Watch for added ingredients. If you’re opting for packaged or processed barley water, but looking to avoid artificial sweeteners, always check the ingredients list.
- Barley isn’t gluten-free. Avoid barley water if you’ve got a gluten intolerance or wheat allergy. It could cause symptoms like nausea, stomach cramps, diarrhea, indigestion, or even rashes.
Barley water is a drink that can give you a boost of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. It may help improve your digestion, lower your cholesterol, and boost weight loss.
Just try to only drink barley water in moderation. Getting too much can lead to unpleasant side effects, like constipation.
If you have any questions about whether barley water’s right for your diet, talk with your doctor.