Barley is among the oldest cultivated grains. Most varieties are surrounded by an uneatable hull that must be removed by pearling (de-coating or de-hulling). But when it's pearled, it retains most of its original nutrients. It's about 50% soluble fiber, which is associated with heart health. Most barley contains a high percentage of amino acids and absorbs high selenium concentration from the soil, which may help reduce the risks of some forms of cancer.