Try Barley for a Satisfying, Cholesterol-Lowering Side Dish

Take a break from rice or potatoes with a grain that's hearty, filling, and a secret heart-health booster.

Barley on wooden table

Medically reviewed in September 2021

Updated on March 15, 2022

Looking for a filling side dish loaded with healthy complex carbohydrates? Skip the baked potato and make yourself a bowl of hearty, nutty barley salad.

Barley is rich in beta glucan, a soluble fiber shown to reduce cholesterol. Research also shows that this special fiber may help with weight management.

Beyond cholesterol control
Barley contains up to twice as much beta glucan as oats. And a study found that getting 3 to 5 grams of beta glucan every day from barley can lower LDL (aka, "bad" cholesterol) by 9 to 15 percent in people with high cholesterol.

The unexpected bonus in this study? The beta glucan helped decrease a sense of hunger, so people ate fewer calories overall. 

Get a grip on hunger
How does barley satisfy so well and help you lose weight? Researchers suspect that beta glucan and other barley fibers expand in your stomach, so you feel full faster and end up eating less.

The best news is that working this hearty grain into your day is a snap. Start your day with barley cereal. For lunch, toss barley into soup, stew, or even salad. And use barley in place of rice at dinner.

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