Barley Benefits and Recipes

Barley is a cereal grain that has been used for thousands of years. It contained no gluten and was one of the first grains to be domesticated in Europe. Barley benefits, nutrition, recipes, and side effects can help you make your favorite dishes even tastier!.

Barley is a cereal grain that has been used for thousands of years. It is also known as “pearled barley” or “hulled barley.” Barley’s benefits and side effects are the same as those of other grains, but they are higher in fiber than most other grains.Barley-Benefits-Nutrition-Benefits-Recipes-and-Side-Effects

Although barley isn’t as well-known as other whole grains such as oats, wheat, or even the trendy quinoa, the health benefits of barley nutrition should not be neglected.

What are the advantages of consuming barley? Barley’s nutrition advantages include a high fiber content (both soluble and insoluble), vitamins and minerals including selenium and magnesium, antioxidants called lignans, as well as heart health and diabetes prevention.

What Exactly Is Barley?

Barley (Hordeum Vulgare L.) is a grass that belongs to the grass family and is one of the most widely consumed cereal grains on the planet. It was recognized as the fourth most produced grain globally (after wheat, rice, and maize) in a 2007 ranking of cereal crops farmed across the globe by the Whole Grain Council, with around 136 million tons produced per year.

According to data from 2013, barley was farmed in over 100 countries throughout the globe, with Russia, Germany, France, Canada, and Spain being the top producers.

It is, in fact, one among the world’s oldest eaten grains. It was a staple grain for peasants for decades in medieval times, and it is still eaten today in many European, African, and Middle Eastern countries that have eaten it for thousands of years.

It contains a variety of vital vitamins and minerals, including:

  • fiber
  • selenium
  • B vitamins are essential for good health
  • copper
  • chromium
  • phosphorus
  • magnesium
  • niacin


Hordeum vulgare spontaneum, a wild grass species, is the source of domesticated barley. It was initially cultivated thousands of years ago in grasslands and woods throughout Western Asia and northeast Africa.

According to researchers, it was first produced for sustenance in Mesopotamia about the second millennium BC.

Today, a large portion of the barley grain is utilized to manufacture other goods such as alcohol, syrup (also known as malted barley), and brown barley bread. In addition, beer and other alcoholic beverages such as whiskey or barley wine, malt, barley tea, flour, bread, and porridges have all been made from barley in the past.

Maltose, a form of sugar utilized for various applications, is naturally abundant in sprouted barley. This is why maltose from this grain is used to manufacture natural sweeteners like barley malt syrups.

The foundation component of a traditional Scottish porridge, for example, is a barley meal (or barley flour). Barley bread is a sort of brown bread that goes back to the Iron Ages and is produced with barley flour.

For ages, the meal has been used throughout the Arab world and portions of the Middle East, such as Israel, Persia, and Saudi Arabia, to produce “gruels,” another ancient sort of porridge.

In Saudi Arabia, barley soup is usually served during Ramadan, and it is also included in cholent, a classic Jewish stew served on Sabbath. This grain is one of Africa’s most important food crops, providing nutrition to poor people.

Because some of the same specific ingredients that make barley nutrition so nutritious are also particularly advantageous for fermentation, this grain has a long history of being utilized in alcoholic beverages. For example, beer and whiskey are made by fermenting certain sugars in barley.

Barley-based alcoholic beverages have traditionally been manufactured by boiling the grain in water and then blending it with white wine and other components. This grain has been used to manufacture powerful beers in England, Ireland, and Scotland from at least the 18th century, utilizing traditional English brewing processes.


Barley is available as pearled and hulled grains, grits, flakes, and flour, among other forms.

Which barley kind is the healthiest? The most nutrient-dense variety of barley is hulled (or coated) barley.

Unlike pearled barley, it is consumed after the grains’ inedible, fibrous outer hull is removed, although it is still considered a whole grain. It’s termed “dehulled barley” once it’s been removed, but it still includes the bran and germ, containing many nutrients.

Because pearled barley is more processed and refined, it misses some of the nutritional advantages of barley that are discussed further below.

The pearled variety is dehulled and has had the bran removed by steam processing. This decreases the nutritious value of barley and turns it into a more processed product, which is often used in flours, flaked grains, and grits.

Because the bran has been removed, pearled barley cooks faster, but it also loses nutrients so that it won’t deliver as many advantages as hulled barley.

The Top 9 Advantages

1. Fiber-rich source

Barley’s nutrition is incomplete without noting its high fiber content. Approximately six grams of fiber are included in each one-cup meal.

The majority of the fiber in barley is insoluble fiber, which has been shown in studies to help with digestion, glucose and lipid metabolism, and heart health.

Fiber swells throughout the digestive system and takes up a large amount of space, so eating high-fiber meals helps you feel fuller. This means you’ll be more content after a meal, have improved blood sugar management, and have fewer cravings.

Glycemic response, blood lipid attenuation, intestinal enzymatic activity, dietary digestibility, and gut flora have all been demonstrated to benefit from the fiber included in whole grains.

2. Can Assist With Digestion

Fiber may aid in preventing constipation and diarrhea by generating bulk in the digestive system and therefore regulating bowel movements. A 2003 research looked at the effects of increasing barley intake in adult women’s diets and discovered that barley consumption improved lipid metabolism and bowel function after four weeks.

Fiber is also necessary for maintaining a healthy bacterial balance in the intestines.

Another significant and well-studied advantage of barley nutrition? Its high fiber content may even help prevent some forms of malignancies of the digestive tract, like colon cancer.

The soluble fiber in barley “feeds” probiotic bacteria in the gut, assisting in producing short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), such as butyrate, which have anti-inflammatory properties and may help alleviate symptoms of IBS, Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis.

Is barley healthy for those who have renal problems? It may be since it’s a grain that’s low in phosphorus but rich in a lot of nutrients that individuals with renal disease should keep an eye on.

According to the National Renal Foundation, a plant-based (or primarily vegetarian) diet that includes several servings of whole grains daily may be advantageous for patients with kidney disease because whole grains contain fiber and a proper mix of protein, salt, potassium, and phosphorus.

3. Assists in weight loss

Because fiber cannot be digested, it adds bulk to a nutritious diet without adding calories. As a result, the fiber in barley nutrition may help with hunger control and weight reduction.

“The significance of dietary fiber in energy intake management and obesity development is connected to its unique physical and chemical features that help in early signals of satiation and improved or extended signals of satiety,” according to a study published in the Journal of Nutrition.

A 2008 research indicated that when people consumed large doses of barley nutrition’s beta-glucan fiber for six weeks, their weight and hunger levels reduced dramatically.

Many additional studies have shown that eating whole grains, as opposed to more refined grain products like white bread, lowers appetite and has a good influence on physiological responses to carbs by slowing the absorption of starches. This is thought to be one of the reasons why fiber consumption has been linked to lower body weight in epidemiological research.

4. Assists in the management of blood sugar levels

Because it helps to reduce the pace at which sugar is released into the circulation, barley nutrition seems to assist blood sugar level control, making it a wise grain option for persons with diabetes or any metabolic syndrome.

Barley nutrition provides eight necessary amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein and a lot of soluble fiber, which regulates insulin release in reaction to the sugar in the form of carbs found in barley.

Beta-glucan is a form of soluble fiber found within the cell walls of barley. Beta-glucan is a viscous fiber, which means it can’t be digested and passes through our digestive system without being absorbed.

It accomplishes so by forming bonds with water and other molecules in the digestive system, delaying the absorption of glucose (sugar) from meals.

In a 2010 animal research, rats fed high doses of barley over seven weeks lost weight, had less hepatic lipid (fat) buildup, and had better insulin sensitivity than rats who did not eat barley.

A 2014 animal research indicated that adding barley to the diet had comparable favorable benefits. In addition, due to its unique fiber components, barley nutrition has been discovered to help manage blood sugar levels better than other whole grains, such as oats.

5. Assists in the reduction of high cholesterol

Fiber-rich diets have been linked to a decreased risk of heart disease, owing to fiber’s capacity to help lower high cholesterol levels. Because it restricts the quantity of harmful cholesterol that the intestines can absorb, barley nutrition’s high supply of insoluble fiber is primarily responsible for its health advantages.

In a 2004 research, 28 men with high cholesterol were placed on a diet that included a lot of barley, with whole-grain barley accounting for around 20% of total calories. As a result, total cholesterol, HDL “good” cholesterol, and triacylglycerol levels all improved significantly after five weeks.

Researchers determined that boosting soluble fiber via barley intake as part of a balanced diet may help patients lower several key cardiovascular risk factors.

The Tiber aids in the formation of a kind of acid known as propionic acid, which helps to block enzymes involved in the liver’s cholesterol synthesis. In addition, Beta-glucan, a component essential to bind bile in the digestive system to cholesterol and assist draw it through the colon and out of the body in stool, is also present in the barley diet.

6. Aids in the prevention of heart disease

According to a substantial body of evidence, consuming whole grains is linked with enhanced heart health and lowered risk indicators associated with cardiometabolic illnesses, mainly when consumed as part of a balanced, high-fiber diet.

Vitamin B3 niacin, vitamin B1 thiamine, selenium, copper, and magnesium are all elements found in this grain that may help decrease LDL and total cholesterol, high blood pressure, and other heart disease risk factors.

These minerals assist in regulating cholesterol formation and metabolism, the prevention of dangerous blood clotting, arterial health, and nerve signaling activities that help govern cardiovascular processes such as heart rhythms.

These minerals are particularly beneficial in delaying the harmful spread of atherosclerosis, a condition in which plaque forms inside arteries and may lead to heart disease, a heart attack, or a stroke. In addition, barley nutrition aids in the maintenance of clean blood vessels, which improves blood flow and reduces inflammation.

7. Antioxidants are present

Because it contains antioxidant phytonutrients known as lignans, barley is beneficial to the body in a variety of ways. For example, lignans are linked to a decreased risk of cancer and heart disease due to their ability to reduce inflammation and combat the effects of aging on the body.

“Lignan compounds are of growing interest because of their putative positive qualities, i.e., anticancerogenic, antioxidant, estrogenic, and antiestrogenic activities,” according to a 2018 paper published in the journal Molecules.

Lignans-rich meals are referred to as “functional foods” since they protect against a variety of degenerative illnesses, including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, neurodegenerative disease, erectile dysfunction, and others.

7-hydroxymatairesinol is the most common kind of lignan found in barley. This lignan has been proven in studies to help the body digest bacteria and maintain a healthy ratio of “good-to-bad” bacteria in the gut, lowering overall inflammation and protecting against cancer and heart disease.

The antioxidants in the barley diet aid in raising blood levels of enterolactone, molecules linked to hormone regulation, and the prevention of hormone-related diseases, including prostate and breast cancer.

8. Vitamins and minerals are abundant

Selenium, magnesium, copper, niacin, thiamine, and a variety of other essential minerals may all be found in barley nutrition.

Because of its high mineral content, barley nutrition aids in various activities. Copper, for example, is necessary for cognitive function into old age and supporting metabolism, the neurological system, and the production of red blood cells.

Selenium, which is contained in barley, improves skin and hair health while also supporting a healthy metabolism. Selenium also aids in the prevention of oxidative stress when combined with vitamin E.

Manganese, contained in barley nutrition, is essential for brain health and nervous system support. In addition, one cup of cooked barley delivers 20% of your daily magnesium requirements.

Magnesium is required for several essential enzyme interactions in the body, including glucose synthesis and use. It also aids in muscle control, blood vessel dilation, and a variety of other tasks.

9. It helps to prevent cancer

A diet rich in whole grains has been demonstrated to protect against gastrointestinal, breast, colon, and prostate cancers, among other malignancies. In addition, lignans, polyunsaturated fatty acids, oligosaccharides, plant sterols, and saponins are all substances found in whole grains that may help prevent free radical damage and inflammation.

The mechanical consequences of these helpful chemicals include binding to dangerous carcinogens and eliminating them from the body. Whole grains also create protective short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), which serve to enhance the intestinal environment and promote immunity by aiding antioxidant and nutrient absorption.

Antioxidants and enterolactone found in the grain seem to help protect against hormone-related cancers. According to a 2011 comprehensive review, other possible mechanisms by which whole grains may protect against cancer (particularly colon cancer) include increased stool volume and dilution of carcinogens in the intestinal lumen, decreased transit time, and bacterial fermentation of fibers.

Nutritional Information

1/4 cup of uncooked/dry hulled barley, according to the USDA, offers about:

  • Calorie Count: 160
  • Carbs: 34 g
  • Protein content: 6 g
  • Fat: 1 g
  • Fiber: 8 g
  • Manganese: 0.9 mg (45 percent of RDA)
  • Selenium: 17 mg (25 percent of RDA)
  • Thiamine: 0.2 mg (20 percent of RDA)
  • Magnesium: 61 mg (about 15% of RDA)
  • Phosphorus: 121 mg (12 percent of RDA)
  • Copper: .025 mg (about 11% of RDA)
  • Niacin: 2 mg (equivalent to 10% of RDA)

Barley vs. Other Grains

Barley is lower in fat and calories than many other grains, including ancient whole grains, but richer in dietary fiber and some trace elements.

Is barley preferable to rice? Cooked barley contains fewer calories but more fiber than quinoa, brown rice, amaranth, sorghum, millet, or wild rice in a one-cup meal.

Is barley preferable to wheat? Although barley and wheat share certain similarities, they are two separate kinds of grass.

Wheat also comes in various sorts and forms, such as wheat bran and farro, making it difficult to state which is “best.”

Barley has a higher fiber content than whole wheat. It has roughly 17 percent fiber by volume, compared to about 12 percent in wheat.

Both are linked to health advantages such as decreasing cholesterol and increasing fullness.

Side Effects and Risks

Is barley devoid of gluten? No, it naturally includes gluten, like whole-grain wheat and rye.

This implies it may not be a good choice for those who have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. Sprouting and fermenting grains may considerably decrease glutenous proteins, yet some are still present.

Gluten sensitivity may cause a variety of symptoms, including loss of nutrients, leaky gut syndrome, poor energy levels, bloating, constipation, and other signs and symptoms.

Although sprouting barley may help reduce its gluten level, it still contains gluten proteins and should be avoided by anybody with a gluten allergy or sensitivity. In addition, if you have a sensitive digestive system, IBS, or evidence of leaky gut syndrome, it’s a good idea to stay away from it and other grains for a while to enable your gut to recover.

Because many vegetables and fruits have the same nutrients found in this grain, barley, and other grains are not required in every balanced diet. If you have no allergies to grains or gluten, this grain may be a healthy addition to your diet.

How to Choose and Prepare

When purchasing barley, make sure it is 100 percent whole grain, hulled or dehulled, and not pearled.


To get the most out of barley nutrition, soak and sprout hulled, uncooked barley grains, or use sprouted barley flour for baking. Sprouting whole grains releases their nutrients, allowing the body to absorb and use the numerous vitamins and minerals contained inside the grain.

This is due to the presence of antinutrients in all whole grains, such as phytic acid, which bind to nutrients and make them difficult to absorb.

Soaking and sprouting grains may considerably reduce antinutrient levels, making grains more nutritious and simpler to digest. It may also help to lessen the quantity of gluten in the body.

Numerous studies have demonstrated that soaking and sprouting grains improve digestibility and nutrient absorption and increase vitamin, mineral, protein, and antioxidant levels.

You may sprout your own by soaking entire, raw barley grains for eight to twelve hours and then sprouting them over three days.

Cooking Techniques

Rinse raw barley grains well under running water before cooking. Any hulls or floating particles should be removed since they might spread germs.

It’s made by combining one part barley with three parts boiling water or broth. When boiling the grains, you should add 1/3 cup of grain to 1 cup of liquid.

Bring the cleaned grains and liquid to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and continue to cook until the grains are soft and cooked through. The recommended variety of hulled barley takes around one-and-a-half hours to cook, whereas pearled barley takes about an hour.

How to Incorporate It Into Your Diet

The taste of this ancient grain is characterized as rich and nutty, with a thick, chewy texture. If you prefer the flavor and texture of ancient whole grains like farro, buckwheat, or wheat berries, you’ll probably appreciate this grain as well.

Because it absorbs a lot of flavors and lends a satisfying, chewy quality to recipes, it’s a terrific complement to comfort foods like soups and stews.

Use the hulled version of barley in place of other whole grains like quinoa, rice, or buckwheat to boost the nutritional value of your diet.

Last Thoughts

  • Barley (Hordeum Vulgare L.) belongs to the grass family and is one of the most widely consumed whole grains worldwide. Fiber, manganese, copper, magnesium, B vitamins, selenium, and other nutrients are abundant.
  • What is the purpose of barley? This grain has been used to create beer and other alcoholic beverages such as barley wine, malt (a sweetener), tea, flour, brown bread, and porridges for thousands of years.
  • Studies have shown barley to help decrease high cholesterol and blood pressure, promote digestive health, aid weight management, support healthy blood sugar levels and metabolic health, and more.
  • Is barley gluten-free? Yes, it includes gluten naturally, much like rye and wheat. However, this implies that barley may cause indigestion, allergic reactions, skin rashes, and other symptoms in persons who are gluten intolerant. Other gluten-free grains, such as quinoa, buckwheat, or brown rice, are preferable alternatives if this is the case.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does barley have side effects?

A: Yes, barley has a lot of side effects that are listed on the label.

What is barley used for?

A: Barley is a type of cereal grain that humans have eaten for thousands of years. It can be used to make beer, bread, and porridges.

What are the side effects of drinking barley water?

A: Drinking barley water has many health benefits. It is reported to have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce the risk for chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, etc.

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