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Grasses are the world’s most widely distributed plants and can be found growing from above the Arctic Circle, throughout the temperate and tropical zones, and into Antarctica. Barley is an annual cereal plant (Hordeum vulgare-L) that has been cultivated for hundreds of years.

Although in the past, the grain of the barley was mainly used, the true nutrition of barley is in its leaves-the young green shoots that form before the grain.

Barley is typically used as a special-purpose grain. It is a valued feed for stock and is used in making beer. But it is also a source for flour and breakfast cereal. Pearl barley is popular in soups, and in the Middle East it is eaten like rice.

Barley grass, the green shoots of the barley, is reputed to be the only vegetation on earth that can supply sole nutritional support from birth to old age. Barley grass has an astounding amount of vitamins and minerals. Barely 12 to 14 inches tall, barley grass is packed with all the nutrients a human body needs, and has the added benefit of chlorophyll.

Some of the vitamins in green barley grass are five B vitamins, including Vitamin B12. It also contains folic acid, panthothenic acid, B1, B2, B6, beta carotene, and C and E. And recent laboratory analysis on green barley grass has turned up traces of more than 70 minerals, among them calcium, iron, magnesium, and phosphorus.

Barley grass also contains 18 amino acids, which are the building blocks of proteins. Because barley green’s proteins are polypeptides, or smaller proteins, they can be directly absorbed by the blood.

Green barley leaves are also packed with enzymes, which are the body’s spark plugs. Most people do not get the enzymes they need, because cooking foods destroys enzymes. Fresh barley grass is said to have thousands of active enzymes.

Barley grass also contains chlorophyll. Chlorophyll has been studied as a potential deodorant, as a stimulator of tissue growth, and as a stimulator of red blood cells and the red pigment in blood. Chlorophyll has also been found beneficial in the treatment of calcium oxalate stone disease, and as an accelerator in the healing of wounds.

Green barley grass is also said to have a high alkalizing effect, because it contains the buffer minerals such as sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium.

Because our lives today have become more hectic and our world more polluted, it is important that we have the proper diet. Barley grass is very beneficial to good health, and is available in dried form in herbal shops. But you may also buy the seeds and sprout it yourself, adding the sprouts to salads and sandwiches, adding great nutrition to your diet.