Bread made using barley could cut the risk of obesity and diabetes, according to research by Lund University in Sweden.

The study comes in the wake of Marks & Spencer (M&S) adding barley to two of its new range of healthy loaves.

The study asked middle-aged participants to eat bread made from 85% barley at breakfast, lunch and dinner. They were then examined for diabetes and cardiovascular disease risk indicators 11-14 hours after the last meal of the day.

It discovered that a special mix of dietary fibres improved the participants’ metabolism for up to 14 hours, as well as decreasing blood sugar and insulin levels, increasing insulin sensitivity and improving appetite control.

Anne Nilsson, associate professor at the food for health science centre at Lund, said: “It is surprising yet promising that choosing the right blend of dietary fibres can - in a short period of time - generate such remarkable health benefits.

“After eating the bread made out of barley kernels, we saw an increase in gut hormones that regulate metabolism and appetite, and an increase in a hormone that helps reduce chronic low-grade inflammation, among the participants. In time this could help prevent the occurrence of both cardiovascular disease and diabetes.”

The study follows on from a previous study by the University of Gothenburg, also in Sweden, which discovered barley stimulated the growth healthy gut bacteria which helps to regulate blood sugar.