Barley malt is a natural sweetener that is derived from barley. It can be used in the home as a substitute for processed sugar, and many commercial foods make use of it as a way of providing sweetening in frozen or packaged foods.
The malt is created by toasting sprouted barley and grinding the sprouts into a powder. The powder can then be processed for use as a dry product or made into barley malt syrup, which has a relatively high concentration of maltose. While not as sweet as granulated or powdered sugar, the final product is often sweet enough to produce tasty foods.
There are two distinct advantages to using this sweetener. First, it tends to cause lower spikes in blood glucose levels, which means that people who are trying to monitor their blood sugar levels might find that it can help with this goal. While the malt does contain a significant amount of carbohydrates, they are considered to be the "good" kind, similar to those found in oatmeal and other whole grains.
Another benefit of using barley malt has to do with the texture and consistency of the prepared dish. Unlike many of the artificial sweeteners that do not lend any real texture to recipes, malt can be ideal for use in baking and other applications. Using it allows bakers to cut the sugar content of some foods and reduce the calories without negatively affecting the taste.
Because of the high fiber content, this type of malt is sometimes processed into a product known as barley malt extract. The extract can be consumed to add bulk to the stool, which in turn helps with general colon health and lowering bad cholesterol in the body. Along with the powder form, it is also possible to purchase tablets for this purpose.
The malt can also be used in the creation of home brewed beers and ales. Many of the kits on the market today specifically recommend it in order to produce the best results. As with many types of malt, this form can add a pleasant flavor to the home brew that is difficult to achieve using any other product.
It is possible to purchase barley malt in many retail outlets, including some supermarket chains. The product is also available from a number of online services. In some cases, the malt is marketed as barley flour, which may be confusing to some consumers.