Green Barley Grass: Nature's Own Superfood
by Bruce D. Curtis, M.A.
In our eternal quest for the ultimate superfood, the human drive to improve upon nature often leads us to overlook those remarkable whole foods already known to contain a living matrix that is both integral and complete. The leaves of young green barley plants is just such a food, containing precisely that overflowing blend of nutrients so critical to human health. After 10 years of research on over 300 different foods, the late Yoshihide Hagiwara, M.D., founder of Green Foods, realized this fact stating, "My research has shown that the leaves of the embryonic barley plant contain the most prolific, balanced supply of nutrients that exist on earth in a single source." His work empirically authenticated one of nature's most sublime superfoods.
The nutrient composition of green barley grass shows the presence of 20 amino acids, including the eight essential ones humans cannot produce. (Of particular note is that young barley grass, raised and harvested apart from the production of barley grain, is naturally gluten-free). Because of the abundance of these protein building blocks already present in the form of amino acids (instead of complex protein chains), young barley grass is nearly 40% protein that is close to 90% absorbable. Is it any wonder that Steph Sinton, winner of the 2006 Mr. Universe title, proclaimed barley grass to be better than any protein powder he had ever used?
Young barley grass also provides vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, B12, C, E, K, as well as biotin, choline, Folic acid, niacin, and pantothenic acid. It also contains more than twice the amount of beta carotene than that found in carrots; good news for those familiar with the role beta carotene plays in restoring the tumor suppression function of the P-gene, known as p53.
All major minerals are present—from boron to zinc—plus 50 trace minerals! Barley grass also contains a remarkable amount of magnesium; not surprising, since magnesium is a part of chlorophyll, and barley is chock full of good natural chlorophyll, not artificially-produced chlorophyllin. What a perfect way to gently cleanse the bowel and prevent those degenerative diseases. These diseases begin to occur with the presence of the heme molecule from the blood in red meat, which cause increased damage to the colon cells. Recent research also highlights the value of chlorophyll in fighting cancer as well as vascular diseases.
Chlorophyll is also well-known as a tremendous blood builder, due in part to the remarkable similarity between the chemical structure of hemoglobin and chlorophyll. Simple replacement of the magnesium atom with iron transforms the chlorophyll into hemoglobin, a function that has been observed in the human body.
Dr. Sherry Rogers, Multiple Chemical Sensitivity Expert, has recently highlighted the benefits of the chlorophyll in barley grass. These benefits include the anti-inflammatory effect of a novel antioxidant (considered to be as potent as alpha-tocopherol), its ability to stem the damage of severe toxins and metabolites from Candida, as well as to promote the degeneration of pesticides. Given the widespread use of toxic chemicals, like malathion (found in insecticides), it is very promising that a solution of barley grass leaves neutralized 100% of the malathion in a lab sample.
For those who realize the importance of enzymes and use enzyme supplements in their diet, natural barley grass is a superior alternative given its 16 major identified enzymes, including superoxide dismutase (SOD)—widely recognized as one of the most important enzymes for human digestion. Barley grass gives a person high amounts of protein building blocks with the proper enzymes to digest them, so they work more synergistically with other metabolic functions.
With all of the products on the market containing barley grass, the healthconscious consumer is faced with the challenge of making an informed decision. Important considerations include the origin, which determines the purity and mineral content, the method of growth (100% certified organic is best), the method of preparation, and the fillers or additives that may be present. An optimal barley grass is one organically grown, harvested before the stalk forms to eliminate the risk of gluten content, minimally processed to avoid the destruction of the sensitive enzymes and amino acids, and packaged without fillers. Typical fillers are rice powder and maltodextrin, neither of which makes a meaningful contribution to food. Also, adding a complex carbohydrate like maltodextrin to the pure food matrix found in organic green barley grass inhibits its beneficial actions.
The 100% Organic Green Barley Grass from Living Foods USA is just such a product. It is grown in the Canterbury plains of New Zealand near Christchurch. The plains are legendary for being one of the finest places in the world to grow cereal grasses due to the high mineral content of the volcanic soil, unique wind patterns, and pure rainfall. The grass is dried quickly without heaters, micro-milled, and put into containers without any additives or fillers. The New Zealand barley grass from Living Foods USA is consistently reported as the finest that consumers have ever tried. Clearly, the New Zealand variety optimizes delivery of all of the benefits sought in a superfood: nutrient supplementation and tissue building, detoxification, immune strengthening, and the enhancement of natural cancer-fighting abilities.
Organically grown young barley grass is a testimony to the wisdom of Hippocrates who once said, "Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food." On that, how could we improve?