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Ancient barley variety slowly returning in UK foods

Naked barley was an important crop in the Bronze Age, but since then has almost been forgotten in the UK. Will this ancient crop make a return in the UK?

According to Harper Adams University, there is evidence that the beta glucan in naked barley can help with type 2 diabetes as it aids blood glucose metabolism. It also supports control cholesterol levels.

Producing a versatile barley variety

The varieties of naked barley adapted to the British climate have long since been lost, and those from further afield perform poorly in wetter cooler summers, but its health benefits are so great that a research project is underway to produce a variety that is more versatile, the website of Harper Adams University reports.

Dr Edward Dickin, lecturer and project lead, said: “There is evidence that the beta glucan in naked barley can help with type 2 diabetes as it aids blood glucose metabolism. It also supports control cholesterol levels”.

More testing needs to be done

"A number of undergraduate students and I have been looking at producing a barley crop better adapted to the UK climate. From the current generation they working on, they are getting a good yield, but further testing needs to be done"

Several food companies are interested in the crop and the first product made from UK-grown naked barley, tasty barley flakes for porridge and baking, went on the market in 2016.

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