Barley, a cereal grain suitable for consumption, can be used in a variety of ways. You can use it as a replacement for nearly any whole grain or rice in soups, stews, casseroles or served alone as a side dish. Barley is quite nutritious and triggers a variety of effects and side effects. Do not consume barley to treat a medical condition without consulting your health care provider.
Promotes Bowel Health
The barley grain is high in fiber, containing 6 g per cup of cooked, pearled barley. The Harvard School of Public Health suggests consuming 20 g of fiber per day, with teens and men needing more -- up to 30 to 35 g per day. The fiber in barley decreases your risk of developing hemorrhoids and diverticular disease, but it also aids in preventing constipation and diarrhea. Consuming too much barley before your body is prepared to process large quantities of fiber may produce the unpleasant side effect of abdominal bloating, gas and cramping, though. Increase fiber intake slowly to prevent this.
Energizes Your Body
Barley is an excellent choice for getting energy. The macronutrients in this food -- protein and carbohydrates -- break down into fuel for your body's use. A 1-cup serving of barley grain provides you with 44.3 g of carbohydrates and 3.5 g of protein. Additionally, barley contains a range of B vitamins -- thiamin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B-6 and folate -- all of which assist in the conversion of food to energy. The iron in barley also plays a role in keeping your energy high as too little iron in your diet can trigger anemia, a condition marked by lethargy. One cup of barley contains 2 mg of iron; you require 8 to 18 mg of iron each day.
When you and your partner are trying to conceive a child, adding barley grain to your diet may be a good choice. A cup of barley has 0.4 mg of manganese; you need 1.8 to 2.3 mg of this mineral each day. The University of Maryland Medical Center indicates that manganese is critical for making sex hormones in the body that contribute to the function of your sexual organs. A manganese deficiency may decrease fertility. Not getting enough selenium may also hurt your chances of conception, but barley contributes to the quantity you need each day. One serving has 13.5 micrograms, and your body needs 55 micrograms daily.
Boosts Immune Function
The protein in a serving of barley -- 3.5 g -- helps bolster the function of your immune system. The zinc in barley also helps your body fight infections; without enough zinc in your meal plan, you may experience more frequent infections. A serving of barley provides 1.3 mg of zinc, a portion of the 8 to 11 mg recommended for daily consumption.
Nicki Wolf has been writing health and human interest articles since 1986. Her work has been published at various cooking and nutrition websites. Wolf has an extensive background in medical/nutrition writing and online content development in the nonprofit arena. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English from Temple University.