Barley: 10 Benefits, Side effects & Nutrition Facts

Last Updated on April 26, 2021 by Dr Sharon Baisil MD

‘Hordeum vulgare’ which is commonly called Barley is a kind of cereal crop just like rice, wheat, and maize.

Indians call barley by the name of ‘Jau’ and it is included in diets more often.

The most likely thing about Barley cereal crop is that it is available at reasonable prices and thus can be afforded by anyone.

Barley is rich in fiber and thus helps to improve digestion and metabolic activities of our body.

Veggie causing Diabetes

It is believed that if you add barley with high amounts of magnesium in your diet then it will reduce the risk of building diabetes in the body. And if anyone has already suffered from diabetes then this combination of barley and magnesium will be beneficial for them.

8 Health Benefits of Barley 


  1. Preventing Asthma, Cancer and Arthritis

Consuming Barley daily can help in preventing chronic diseases such as diabetes, asthma, cancer, and arthritis.

According to research, approximately 360,000 people who consume barley and other whole grains are less prone to cancer when compared to those with a diet having low grain content intake.

  1. Preventing Obesity and Diabetes

Consuming Barley grain is very useful for diabetic patients as barley is a low Glycemic Index food and also this whole grain helps to keep diabetes and obesity away from people.


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Barley helps to reduce insulin levels in our body and this can reduce the risk of diseases like diabetes.

  1. An ideal food for individuals with Diabetes

As we read above in this article that Barley contains high levels of beta-glucan fiber in it. So, this beta-glucan slows down the absorption of sugar in the body.

Barley when taken with oats or glucose in diets regularly can readily reduce insulin and blood sugar levels in the body.

According to research, Barley can reduce sugar levels by 58-65% in our body. On the other side, oats can reduce sugar levels only by 29-36% when compared to Barley.

Barley can be a perfect choice for people who have high blood sugar levels as having Barley in meals especially in breakfast can help to reduce sugar levels in the body as Barley is a low Glycemic Index food.

  1. Rich source of Dietary Fiber and Phytonutrients

Barley is also a rich source of phytonutrients and possesses high levels of fiber in it. Thus, barley is very beneficial for health.

Phytonutrients- These are compounds that are present in crops or plants but when consumed by humans can be very beneficial. These substances help to prevent diseases and boost the immune system of the body.

  1. Improve Digestion

Hulled Barley which is a kind of Barley when taken 100 grams in quantity than that quantity of hulled barley consists of 17.5 grams of fiber in it.

You must be wondering how fiber improves digestion. The answer to your confusion is that fiber helps to clean the digestive tract and helps to get rid of constipation.

It has been scientifically proven that people who eat barley in breakfast are less prone to chronic constipation as compared to others.

  1. Prevention of Ulcerative Colitis

Apart from this Barley also prevents diseases like ulcerative colitis which is a kind of inflammatory disease.

Additionally, the number of bacteria which are good for health also increases in number in the digestive tract of the body due to the consumption of barley.

These bacteria aid in reducing inflammations in the body and also lowers the blood sugar levels of the body.

  1. Lowers Cholesterol levels in the body

According to research, it has been found out that Barley helps to lower cholesterol levels in the body, and thus it is very beneficial to add barley in diets.

  1. Helps to Reduce Weight

In studies, it has been proved that whole-grains like barley, oats, rye, etc are good for breakfast as they cause less hunger during lunch or after breakfast.

What are the Side Effects of Barley?

What are the Side Effects of Barley

Barley has countless advantages but some people should avoid barley in some situations as it can be harmful to their health.

  • A person who is suffering from diseases like celiac or someone who is allergic to wheat should avoid barley. Barley is a kind of whole-grain that contains gluten in it, which can be harmful to a person who is allergic to wheat.
  • Barley can cause IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) in people as it possesses carbohydrate short-chains called fructans in it. Fructans intake can be injurious to a person suffering from IBS.
  • Barley lowers Blood Sugar Levels very easily. So, people who are suffering from diabetes and already taking medication or insulin to lower blood sugar levels must be cautious about the intake of barley.

What is the Glycemic Index of Barley?

What is the Glycemic Index of Barley

To understand whether Barley is a low Glycemic Index food or not, we have to understand what the term “Glycemic Index” means.

Glycemic Index is a scientific terminology which is used to determine that the food we eat causes a rise or decline in the blood sugar levels. And if the food causes a rise in the blood sugar levels of the body then by how much?

We refer to the Glycemic Index as ‘GI’ in short.

If anyone says that particular food possesses a high glycemic index, that means the food is mostly absorbed and digested by our body and this causes the rise in blood sugar levels in the body. Have a look at the glycemic index of different varieties of barley.

Food NameGlycemic IndexServe (g)Carb per Serve (g)Glycemic Load
Barley, pearled, boiled 60 min351504215
Barley, pearled22150419
Barley, pearled, brown291504212
Barley (Hordeum vulgare)371504216
Barley, cracked501504221
Barley, rolled66503825
Barley kernels, high-amylose (hull-less) boiled in water for 25 min (kernel:water = 1:2.5)20150428
Barley kernels, waxy (hull-less), boiled in water for 25 min (kernel:water = 1:2.5)22150429

 Is Barley Good for Diabetes?

 Is Barley Good for Diabetes

Barley is good for any diabetic patient. The reason behind this is that if you eat barley then it will be absorbed in our body in the form of Carbohydrates and will be converted into C₆H₁₂O₆ (Glucose) in the bloodstream only.

We all know that the food we eat is not absorbed directly, it is converted into digestible forms like Glucose first and then converted into enzymes by releasing pyruvic acid and energy and we name this process as Glycolysis.

Now, since glucose is formed in the bloodstream, in the case of barley. That’s why it helps to regulate cellular functions of the body like respiration, digestion, etc, and also aids to generate energy. The energy is liberated in the form of ATP in the body and ATP stands for adenosine triphosphate.

ATP (adenosine triphosphate) in the form of energy that is used by our body. The production of ATP occurs at the mitochondria (cell organelle) of the cell.

How to add Barley to your diet?

How to add Barley to your diet

As we have discussed above in this article that Barley (jau) is a cereal crop and it is cultivated by farmers more often. Barley is really good in taste and possesses nutty flavors in it.

Barley cereal crops can grow anywhere in this world and the seed of this plant is a category of grass.

Farmers are growing barley (Jau) cereal crops from ancient civilizations.

There is evidence that the Barley cereal crop, over 10,000 years back was being cultivated in Egypt.

Many people are unaware of the fact that apart from including it in the diet as food, Barley can also aid in whiskey and beer production by playing a major role in its constituents.

Approximately, 144 million tons of Jau (Barley) are produced every year.

Barley is available in varied forms in the market. Here, in this article, we will discuss the 4 main and easily available varieties of Barley.

  1. Hulled Barley

Hulled Barley

Hulled Barley is the only form of Barley which possesses an inedible shell outside, which has to be removed to cook it. Hulled Barley is referred to as whole-grain. This version of Barley needs a little more time to cook when compared to other varieties of Barley.

We can use Hulled Barley in place of other grains like quinoa, rice, oats, etc as a substitute for all these whole grains in food.

  1. Pearl Barley

Pearl Barley

The nutrient content of Pearl Barley is less when compared to Hulled Barley.

Pearl Barley, bran and hulls are removed by allowing them to steam partially.

This version of Barley can be easily cooked.

  1. Barley Flakes

Barley Flakes

Barley Flakes are almost similar to rolled oats when it comes to appearance. This variety of barley is sliced and flattened all over.

When we compare it with Hulled barley based on nutrient content than Hulled barley contains more nutrients than it.

  1. Barley Grits

Barley Grits

It is a form of barley that has been prepared by cracking and toasting of original barley.

The nutrient content of Barley Grits differs depending on the manufacturing means if they are manufactured from Hulled Barley or Pearl Barley, the nutrient content depends on that.

Barley- Nutritional Information

Barley- Nutritional Information

Nutrients levels are very high in Barley and this is one of the reasons why we recommend adding barley in diets.

While cooking barley, you can observe that its size gets doubled. We can now learn how many nutrients are contained in 100 grams of Barley (uncooked and hurled barley)

  • Calories- 354
  • Carbs- 73.5 grams
  • Fiber- 17.3 grams
  • Protein- 12.5 grams
  • Fat- 2.3 grams
  • Thiamine- 43% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI)
  • Niacin- 23% of the RDI
  • Riboflavin- 17% of the RDI
  • Folate- 5% of the RDI
  • Vitamin B6- 16% of the RDI
  • Phosphorus- 26% of the RDI
  • Magnesium- 33% of the RDI
  • Manganese- 97% of the RDI
  • Zinc- 18% of the RDI
  • Iron- 20% of the RDI
  • Copper- 25% of the RDI
  • Potassium- 13% of the RDI
  • Selenium- 54% of the RDI

Also, Barley contains high amounts of beta-glucan in it. Beta-glucan is a kind of fiber that generally combines with body fluid and forms a material like gel in the body.

This beta-glucan can help any person to lower their cholesterol levels and to maintain sugar levels in the body. This beta-glucan fiber can also be found in great amounts in oats.

Due to stress, many cells in our body get damaged and Barley helps to repair those cells because it contains vitamin E, lutein, beta-carotene, and zeaxanthin in it. All these are types of antioxidants which help to repair the damaged cells of the body.


Barley is a low Glycemic Index food which means Barley does not cause a rise in blood sugar levels.

Additionally, Barley contains a high amount of fiber content in it, especially beta-glucan.

Beta-glucan has many advantages some of which include that this compound helps to reduce weight, improves digestion, lower cholesterol levels of the body, and lowers blood sugar levels.

Hulled barley is the most nutritious form of barley when compared to Pearl Barley, Barley Flakes, and Barley Grits. Whole-grains like wheat can be easily substituted by Hulled Barley in the diets without having any disadvantages.




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