Functional Bioactives from Barley for Human Health Benefits
Barley (Hordeum vulgare) is a hardy winter crop that has been widely used as a source of food and fermented beverages in several cultures around the world since ancient times. Currently, its primary use is as a source of fermentable extracts in the malting industry for producing alcoholic beverages (beer) and as animal feed. However, barley also possesses significant dietary value and can be targeted in health-relevant functional food strategies. While barley grains are known to be a good source of macronutrients, a growing body of research has recognized barley as being rich in a wide spectrum of dietary bioactives, such as phenolics, tocols, alkylresorcinols, folate and γ-aminobutyric acid. Diets rich in these compounds can potentially mitigate the risk factors of various non-communicable chronic diseases (NCDs), such as chronic oxidative stress, chronic hyperglycemia, and associated macro- and micro-vascular complications. Therefore, barley grains may serve as a suitable source material to produce functional nutraceuticals and food ingredients and can be targeted in dietary intervention strategies to protect against metabolic and chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Based on this relevance, this chapter aims to describe the key functional phytochemical groups found in barley grains and presents an overview of the potential health benefits that have been attributed to them. Further, this chapter also presents possible strategies and processing methods to improve the content, availability and bioactivity of these compounds and to incorporate them into functional food matrices.