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Since the advent of agriculture, man has been “improving” grain crops to make them starchier, sweeter, less perishable, and easier to grow and to harvest. Now that we are seeing the consequences, scientists are starting to reverse-engineer some food crops to more closely resemble their ancient ancestors. Sustagrain barley is one of the first to become available to the consumer.

For comparison, General Mills has been advertising that Cheerios® have been “proven to reduce cholesterol,” based on the amount of soluble fiber they contain. The following fiqures are based on a ¾ cup (22.5 grams raw weight) serving of Sustagrain and a ¾ cup (22.5 grams) serving of whole-grain Cheerios. Note that the numbers below are for plain Cherrios, not the sweetened ones:

22.5 grams of plain Cherrios (¾ cup) have:
14 net grams of carbohydrate
2.5 grams total fiber
0.75 grams of soluble fiber

22.5 grams of Sustagrain barley flakes (about ¾ cup cooked) have:
7 net grams of carbohydrate
7 grams total fiber
2.5 grams of soluble fiber

Sustagrain barley is a natural, waxy, hulless variety that was developed through a conventional breeding program at Montana State University. It is available as flour, thick or quick-cooking flakes, steel-cut and whole kernel, all of which are whole grains.

Sustigrain barley flour and flakes can be used instead of oat flour or oatmeal in cooking and baking. It is currently only available for home use from The King Arthur Flour Company, but it is being used as an ingredient in many commercial products.

More information about Sustagrain barley can be found online at:

Here’s a quote from Elizabeth A. Arndt, ConAgra Foods:
“Sustagrain barley has a unique carbohydrate distribution, with at least 30% dietary fiber and only 30% starch, which is 2-3 times the amount of fiber and approximately half the starch compared with other common cereal grains. Approximately half of the dietary fiber is beta-glucan.”

Check out this great bread made with Sustagrain barley flour–WOW! Here’s a challenge for you: if anyone out there can convert this formula to a home-cook, user-friendly version, I would LOVE to see it. Here’s the link to the article:

A second post with additional info is here (BTW a poolish is a sour dough starter.):
(C) 2009, Judy Barnes Baker

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