Most people believe they need to stick to boring soups and salads and steer clear of cereals to lose weight. But some cereals actually aid in burning fat. Jau, or barley grain, is one of them.

It was once known as a ‘poor man’s wheat’ and used mainly as horse and cattle feed. But jau has become a star in the health-food circuit after Swedish researchers found it has hunger-fighting and cholesterol-lowering potential. Many fitness conscious individuals are now starting their day with jau dalia; some are adding jau pearls to their salads and others are eating jau rotis with sabzi for dinner.

But can this carbohydrate-rich grain really help one shed kilos? Yes, say experts. The jau grain is extremely low in calories (especial hulled jau which is minimally processed) and it contains high levels of fiber — 40% more than in wheat — which are slow to digest, therefore making one feel fuller for longer. Moreover, the carbohydrates in jau have a low glycemic index, which means they raise the blood sugar level more slowly compared to other foods. This way there is no spike and subsequent drop in sugar which leaves one feeling famished and causes cravings.

Of course, this doesn’t mean you can eat junk food all day plus jau and expect a smaller waistline. Exercise and an overall healthy diet with jau are a must to see results, say nutritionists.

You can consider switching to jau even if you don’t have weight issues as it is packed with iron, calcium, proteins and vitamin E — wheat does not contain the last. The beta glucan in jau has been found to help lower cholesterol, according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Studies have also linked jau to a reduced risk of various medical conditions such as cancer, childhood asthma and stones.

The best part is that this healthy grain is not tough to stomach. With a rich nutty flavor and a chewy, paste-like consistency, jau can work with any recipe. But remember: it can lead to flatulence and bloating. So, add ginger to your jau dalia or ajwain (carom seeds) to jau rotis to avoid embarrassing situations.

Other posts about healthy ingredients

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Want a protein packed lunch? Try Tofu

Five ways to spice up your porridge

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