Benefits of Barley

Evidence Based Research Based
Medically reviewed by - Dr Lara Mokhtar, MD Written by - Dr. Shilpa R


What is Barley?

Barley is an important cereal grain farmed throughout the world in temperate regions. Barley is one of the oldest crops. With fiber, vitamins, and minerals, barley is a complete grain. These nutrients provide a range of health advantages. This article covers several varieties of barley grains, their nutritional value, health advantages, side effects, risks, methods for preparing and consuming barley, and a few easy recipes.

Barley is an important cereal grain farmed throughout the world in temperate regions. Barley is one of the oldest crops.

Key Facts

  • Barley belongs to the grass family.
  • Hordeum vulgare is its scientific name.
  • The Egyptians and the Greeks used barley as a nutritious food source and a medicine1Overview| Researched based study from
  • Barley is known as Jau in India and is utilized for food and animal feed.


Types of barley

Barley is generally used in different forms and may include

  • Hulled barley
  • Hulless barley
  • Pearled barley
  • Barley flakes
  • Barley Grits
  • Bran flour

Hulled barley

  • Hulled barley is treated as little as possible by carefully eliminating the inedible hull and preserving the outer bran. 2Types| Researched based study from
  • Nutrient content is higher in whole-grain, hulled barley than in refined, pearled barley.

Hulless barley

  • The outer hull of this kind of barley is generally detached from the kernel during harvest because it is so lightly attached.
  • This reduces processing time while retaining all of the bran and germ.

Pearled barley

  • Available in most groceries and are polished barley that has undergone processing to remove the fibrous exterior hull and some or even all of the bran layer.

Barley flakes

  • In a process similar to that used to make rolled oats, barley kernels are steamed, rolled, and dried to produce flakes.
  • Due to their larger surface area and gentle steaming, barley flakes cook more quickly.

Barley Grits

  • Grits are created by breaking up barley kernels into smaller bits.
  • Grits made from hulled or hulless barley are entire grains, whereas grits made by shredding pearl barley are not.

Bran flour

  • Barley bran is frequently ground into flour and consumed independently due to its high fiber and nutritional content. 3Types| Researched based study from


Nutritional Value of Barley

The nutrients in uncooked, hulled, and pearl barley are displayed in the following table per 100 grams (g).

Nutrient per 100 gHulled barley (4)Pearled barley (5)
Energy354 kcal352 kcal
Carbohydrates73.5 g77.7 g
Fiber17.3 g15.6 g
Protein12.5 g9.9 g
Fat2.3 g1.2 g
Potassium450 mg280 mg
Phosphorus264 mg221 mg
Magnesium133 mg79 mg
Calcium33 mg29 mg
Sodium12 mg9 mg
Iron3.6 mg2.5 mg
Zinc2.77 mg2.13 mg
Manganese1.9 mg1.32 mg
Copper0.5 mg0.4 mg
Selenium37.7 mcg37.7 mcg
Folate19 mcg23 mcg
Niacin4.6 mg4.6 mg

(Note: g – grams, mg – milligrams, mcg – micrograms.)

Additionally, vitamin A, beta carotene, vitamin K, Vitamin E, folate, and B vitamins like thiamin, niacin, pyridoxine, lutein, and zeaxanthin are abundant in barley.4Nutrients| Researched based study from ,5Nutrients| Researched based study from


Barley's health benefits and uses.

Barley’s health benefits and uses

It has numerous health benefits when consumed and may include the following:

  • Reduces bad cholesterol. (LDL)
  • Reduces the risk of heart disease.
  • Manages blood sugar levels.
  • Helps in weight loss.
  • Improves bone health.
  • Improves digestion.
  • It may prevent colon cancer.

To discuss the above health benefits of barley in detail

Reduces bad cholesterol (LDL)

  • Adding barley to the diet decreases total and LDL cholesterol.6Benefits| Researched based study from

Reduces blood pressure

  • Including whole grain foods in a healthy diet, whether high in insoluble or soluble fiber, helps lower blood pressure.6Benefits| Researched based study from

Reduces the risk of heart disease

  • Increasing fiber through barley consumption in a balanced diet can lower cardiovascular risk factors by increasing good cholesterol (HDL) levels and decreasing bad cholesterol (LDL) levels in the blood7Benefits| Researched based study from

Manages blood sugar levels

  • Barley made from whole grains lowers blood sugar levels and helps to increase insulin sensitivity.8Benefits| Researched based study from ,9Benefits| Researched based study from

Helps in weight loss

  • Barley’s soluble fiber promotes weight loss by reducing hunger and boosting feelings of fullness.10Benefits| Researched based study from

Improves bone health

  • The calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, copper, and zinc in barley facilitate improved bone structure and strength. 4Benefits| Researched based study from ,5Benefits| Researched based study from ,11Benefits| Researched based study from

Improves digestion

  • Due to its high fiber content, barley aids digestion by encouraging a healthy gut flora balance and assisting food in passing through the digestive tract.12Benefits| Researched based study from

May prevent colon cancer

  • A slight reduction in the incidence of colorectal cancer was linked to dietary fiber intake, especially fiber from cereal and whole grains.12Benefits| Researched based study from ,13Benefits| Researched based study from

Prevents chronic diseases

  • To ward off chronic illnesses, one should be advised to consume high-fiber foods, such as barley.14Benefits| Researched based study from


How is Barley different from other grains?

What is the difference between Oats and barley?

  • Oats are a secondary crop produced from a weed of primary cereal grasses like wheat and barley, whereas barley is a primary crop developed as cereal grass.
  • Studies have shown that peak glucose and insulin levels after eating barley are much lower than after eating oats15Differences| Researched based study from
  • Niacin and Vitamin B6 are more abundant in barley than in oat, whereas thiamin, pantothenic acid, and folate are more abundant in oat.
  • Compared to barley, oats are higher in calcium and protein.
  • Barley has a higher fiber content than oats.

Difference between barley and wheat

  • Both grains are healthy, but barley is higher in fiber and cholesterol-lowering beta-glucan, and its processes with less nutritional loss than wheat.
  • While wheat is richer in niacin, vitamin B5, vitamin B6, folate, and vitamin E, hulled barley is richer in riboflavin, thiamine, magnesium, iron, zinc, and potassium.
  • Since the majority of the fiber in wheat is located in the bran-rich part of the grain, large amounts of fiber are lost during milling. At the same time, barley is exceptionally high in dietary fiber even after processing.


How to use Barley?


  • Barley does include antinutrients, which hinder the body’s ability to digest and absorb nutrients, just like all whole grains. The antinutrient content of barley may be decreased, and its nutrients may be absorbed more by soaking or sprouting the grain.16Usage| Researched based study from
  • Due to the outer bran layer in hulled barley, soaking time is longer before cooking. soaking will shorten the cooking process and produce the best flavor and texture.
  • Pearled barley does not need soaking before cooking.

Barley recipes

A few simple recipes of barley may include

  • Barley is a great option to be added to dishes like stews, soups, cereals, or broths.
  • Barley risotto can be made by replacing Arborio rice with barley.
  • Instead of using oats in breakfast porridge, try barley flakes.
  • One can substitute rice or quinoa with barley.
  • When baking, we can combine barley flour with wheat flour.
  • Add cooked barley with vegetables and dressings to make a healthy and tasty salad.

Side effects

Side effects of Barley

Consuming barley is generally safe. However, in some people, they may produce side effects like:



  • Barley contains gluten, so no one with celiac disease, a gluten allergy, or non-celiac gluten sensitivity should consume it.17Precautions| Researched based study from
  • All goods containing malted barley, including malted beverages, beers, ales, lagers, and stouts, are considered “barley products.”
  • To prevent adverse effects like bloating, people who want to transition to a high-fiber diet should gradually add fiber.


The Outlook

Barley is a highly healthful and versatile grain. It may be readily added to several meals, is affordable, and can be eaten warm or cold. Or one might purchase barley-containing whole-grain bread. It provides several health advantages and can shield people from chronic ailments, including diabetes, heart disorders, etc. To take advantage of the most benefits, skip pearled barley and choose whole-grain alternatives such as hulled barley or hulless barley.

Disclaimer: The user acknowledges that this article's information is being offered for informational purposes only. Every attempt has been made to guarantee that the article is informational and correct. If they have any doubts or questions about their health, we firmly advise our readers to visit a doctor or other healthcare professional.

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