October 29/Obesity, Fitness & Wellness Week-- Diabetes is one of today's most significant and frightening health issues. Almost 24 million Americans have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, and up to 57 million are considered pre-diabetic. The good news is, by practicing a few healthy lifestyle habits, type 2 diabetes can be controlled and even reversed.

In observance of American Diabetes Month in November, the National Barley Foods Council and BGLife Barley are teaming up to remind consumers what diabetes health professionals and educators have been saying for a long time: a whole grain, high-fiber diet may help control and even prevent type 2 diabetes and pre-diabetes.

Barley is an excellent whole grain choice because it has a high concentration of dietary fiber, including beta-glucan soluble fiber. Studies have confirmed that beta-glucan soluble fiber is effective in promoting healthy blood sugar, reducing cholesterol, promoting healthy blood pressure and helping control weight, all conditions associated with diabetes.

"Barley has become a rising star as a recommended food choice for those concerned about type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes," says Mary Palmer Sullivan, executive director, National Barley Foods Council. "The grain contains essential vitamins and minerals and is an excellent source of dietary fiber, particularly beta-glucan soluble fiber."

Findings from clinical trials reported in Nutrition Research and the Journal of the American College of Nutrition showed that people who ate foods containing barley experienced significant reductions in glucose and insulin responses compared to responses after eating similar products containing whole wheat and corn. Another study published in the Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice Journal reported a 30% decrease in HbA1c (average blood glucose level) in people with type 2 diabetes who ate a healthy diet including pearl barley that supplied 18g of soluble fiber per day.

Because research has consistently shown such remarkable health benefits of barley beta-glucan, companies like BGLife Barley are breeding new varieties of the grain with even higher natural concentrations of soluble fiber. Foods containing these new barley varieties are already available to consumers.

"We have developed Heart Balance Cereal, a 100% whole grain barley cereal made from our proprietary high beta-glucan barley," says Dr. Christine Fastnaught, technical manager, BGLife Barley. "This product is an excellent choice for people with type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes because BGLife Barley is supercharged with beta-glucan soluble fiber. A single serving of Heart Balance Cereal contains 50% more total dietary fiber and half the fat of oatmeal," says Fastnaught. "Most importantly, just one serving of this cereal contains 3g of beta-glucan soluble fiber."

Barley is available in whole grain or pearled forms including flakes, kernels, flour and grits. For more information about barley and diabetes, additional health benefits, and tips on how to incorporate the grain into everyday meal plans, visit www.barleyfoods.org or www.bglifebarley.com.

From the November 10, 2008, Prepared Foods e-Flash