February is Heart Month both in the US and Canada, and unfortunately, most of us know someone who has had heart disease or stroke. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States; one in every three deaths is from heart disease and stroke, equal to 2,200 deaths per day. And in Canada, heart disease and stroke take one life every 7 minutes and 90% of Canadians have at least one risk factor. Scary stats indeed and so it seems timely to look at some foods that can indeed help fight heart disease.
tells us about -
Try this nutty, whole grain in place of rice with dinner or simmer barley into soups and stews. The fiber in barley can help lower cholesterol levels and may lower blood glucose levels, too.
Tip: Hulled or "whole grain" barley is the most nutritious. Barley grits are toasted and ground; nice for cereal or as a side dish. Pearl barley is quick, but much of the heart-healthy fiber has been removed.
tells us that
- Barley is the common name for any cereal grass of the Hordeum genus. Most of the world's barley crop is used for animal feed. A special variety is used in the production of malt for brewing beer. Barley is also used in the distillation of of alcoholic beverages, in the manufacture of vinegar and breakfast foods, and as a thickener in soups.
- Barley is one of the oldest domesticated grain crops. It has been cultivated for over 8000 years. In Athens barley was, according to Pliny, the special food of the gladiators (the hordearii, or 'barley-eaters').
- Barley is grown by the Aymara people on the highest cultivated plot of land in the world at 15,420 feet near Lake Titicaca. The lake is the border between Peru and Bolivia at 12,500 feet, and the area was home to one of the oldest civilizations in the Americas. The Aymara people that live there still practice ancient methods of agriculture. Potatoes and quinoa are also grown there at slightly lower elevations.
- In about 1305, Edward I of England decreed that one inch should be the measure of three barleycorns, and English shoe sizing began; thus a child's shoe that measured 13 barleycorns became a size 13. One foot was the measure of 39 barleycorns and a yard was set at 117 barleycorns.
- Historians report that up until the 16th century, it was the most important grain on the European continent. It was also used as currency and as a measuring standard.
- Almost half the United States crop of barley is used for brewing beer and most of the rest is used for feeding livestock.
A variety of seasonal vegetables could be used in this recipe. This recipe is from The WEBB Cooks, articles and recipes by Robyn Webb, courtesy of the American Diabetes Association.
Makes 6 - 1/2 cup servings
4 cups low fat, low sodium chicken broth
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup red onion, minced
1/2 cup diced carrots
1 cup pearl barley
1/2 cup diced zucchini
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
1. Heat 1/4 cup of the broth in a saucepan over medium high heat. Add the garlic and onion and saute for 5 minutes. Add the carrots and saute for 5 minutes.
2. Add the remaining broth and bring to a boil. Add the barley, lower the heat, cover, and simmer until the liquid is almost absorbed, about 50 minutes.
3. Add the zucchini, parsley, oil, and lemon juice. Simmer for 5 more minutes; season with salt and pepper.
Nutritional info per serving:
Calories - 150
Total Fat - 1.4g
Saturated Fat - 0.3g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 271mg
Total Carbohydrates - 29.9g
Dietary Fibre - 6.6g
Sugars - 1.6g
Protein - 5.4g
Vitamin A - 38%
Vitamin C - 30%
Calcium - 4%
Iron - 14%
Thiamin - 9%
Niacin - 27%
Vitamin B6 - 10%
Magnesium - 12%
Folate - 10%