Evaluating Barley

January 13/Journal of Technology & Science -- "Among common cereals, barley is a low glycemic index food. In an attempt to better understand this character, the nutritional properties of glycemic carbohydrates and dietary fiber concentrations of nine cultivars were evaluated," scientists writing in the journal Cereal Chemistry report.

"The cultivars were selected based on botanical variations and commercial value to investigate the impact of pearling and cooking on nutritional properties. Each cultivar was pearled into four fractions, ranging from hull removal only to hull, bran, germ, and crease removal. The study showed that botanical class and degree of pearling significantly affect the carbohydrate composition and digestion indices of barley. Waxy starch cultivars had less total starch and more rapidly digestible starch (RDS), rapidly available glucose (RAG) and beta-glucan than the other nonwaxy cultivars. Regardless of the barley type, the less pearled kernels had significantly lower total starch and higher total low molecular weight sugars, insoluble and total fiber. However, beta-glucan content was fairly comparable in the whole grain and pearled fractions. Cooking had a significant effect on nutritional properties of Celebrity and AC Klinck cultivars. The only consistent significant difference between raw and cooked barley was resistant starch (RS), which increased after cooking regardless of cultivar or fraction," wrote D. Gray and colleagues.

The researchers concluded, "The study showed that barley cultivar and carbohydrate composition significantly affected starch digestion with some cultivar fractions holding a promise for the development of low glycemic index foods."

Gray and colleagues published their study in Cereal Chemistry ("Differences in Carbohydrate Composition and Digestion In Vitro of Selected Barley Cultivars as Influenced by Pearling and Cooking." Cereal Chemistry, 2009;86(6):669-678).

Additional information can be obtained by contacting D. Gray, Agriculture & Agri Food Canada, Guelph Food Research Center, 93 Stone Rd. W, Guelph, ON N1G 5C9, Canada.

From the January 18, 2010, Prepared Foods E-dition