Is Barley Good for Diabetics? (6 Health Benefits)

Last Updated on July 31, 2021 by Dr Sharon Baisil MD

Hordeum vulgare, commonly called Barley by the world and ‘jau’ in India. Barley is a member of the grass family and is one of the first grass to be cultivated.

Nutty flavor, chewy, and punch of nutrition are the key attributes of Barley. It is available in several forms. You can buy Barley as grits, flakes, flour, or as a whole grain. Whole grains are the healthiest form of Barley.

The commonly available Barley we buy from markets is not wholegrain; rather, it is pearl barley. In preparation for pearl barley, a fiber-containing bran layer is also sloughed off.

Is Barley Good for Diabetics?

The glycemic index of Barley is 28. A low GI score makes it the right choice for diabetes. The high fiber content in Barley also holds a contribution to making it diabetes-friendly food. It can help manage blood sugar levels by increasing the food absorption process.

Veggie causing Diabetes

Barley can reduce the risk of diabetes in vulnerable individuals and help manage diabetes in already diagnosed individuals.

The grains are known to improve insulin production and regulate blood sugar levels.

The most delightful aspect is the presence of magnesium in Barley. Magnesium plays a crucial role in activating body cells to absorb insulin. It also triggers insulin production.

Further, fibers are the main players in controlling diabetes. They slow down the release of sugars into the blood.


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Barley is an excellent breakfast choice for people with diabetes. A breakfast rich in Barley will cause minimum blood sugar spikes in comparison to other whole grains.

Diabetes management requires weight management. You will be able to reverse obesity and manage weight by regular consumption of Barley.

For diabetics, it is better to go for wholegrain Barley. You might have to screen certain stores and travel little extra miles to get a more nutritious form of Barley. But considering the extra edge of benefits received from fibers, your efforts will be worthwhile

6 Health Benefits of Barley

No wonder that Barley is the storehouse of nutrition. Below is the depiction of advantages manifested by this super grain.

1. Weight Loss

If losing weight is your target, then Barley must be on your radar. How does Barley help with weight loss? It keeps you feeling satiated for a longer time and reduces hunger.

Consequently, you feel less hungry and eat less frequently.

Thanks to soluble fibers called beta-glucan in Barley as they are of prime importance for weight loss. These fibers form a gelatinous mass in the gut. This mass formed slows down the pace of digestion. As a result, food remains in the stomach for a longer time.

2. Improves Digestion

This time, the credit goes to insoluble fibers dwelling barley grains. The fraction of insoluble fibers are more in Barley than soluble ones.

These fibers enhance your digestion activity and amplify the efficiency of intestinal functions. As they are insoluble, they don’t get combined with water. Instead, they contribute to the formation of stools.

Insoluble fibers decrease the chances of constipation and improve digestion while facilitating regular bowel movement.

The advantages of Barley regarding digestion don’t cease here. The soluble fibers enable gut bacteria to produce a beneficial substance, short-chain fatty acids. This substance effectively curbs irritable bowel syndrome, ulcers in the stomach, and several gut disorders.

3. Effective Remedy for Stones in kidney and Gallbladder

Doctors suggest drinking barley water for people having kidney stones. The fibers in Barley also deter the formation of stones that build up in the gall bladder. Consuming Barley can help in diminishing the bulk of kidney stones and gall stones. This can avoid the need to perform surgery for removing the stone.

4. Anti-carcinogenic Agent

Barley is blessed with properties that reverse the risk of cancer in human beings. Certain plant compounds found in Barley are anti-carcinogenic.

Whole grains are very powerful in eliminating the possibility of colon cancer. Moreover, soluble fibers may bind to cancer-causing elements in your body and expel them out of the body.

5. Cholesterol-lowering Nature

Once again, beta-glucans prove to be of great health significance. What they do is reduce the extent of bad cholesterols and heightens the level of good cholesterols.

The saturated fatty acids produced by the interaction of soluble fibers with gut bacteria also promote cholesterol reduction.

Many research papers have consolidated the above statements. Also, a study conducted on a group of men having high cholesterol revealed that Barley could lower the level of bad cholesterol by 7%.

6. Deters Cardiovascular diseases

Whole grains and heart health go hand in hand. Being a whole grain, Barley also carries the potential to repel various heart-related diseases.

Most importantly, Barley lowers bad cholesterol count, which is the worst enemy of good heart health. Furthermore, it also keeps blood pressure within safe boundaries.

Controlling the levels of bad cholesterol and blood pressure eventually leads to a happy heart that works optimally.

Nutritional Composition of Barley

Every grain of Barley is loaded with nutrients that include vitamins, minerals, and fibers. The grains are also abundant in beneficial elements like copper, molybdenum, manganese, chromium, phosphorous, magnesium, and niacin.

Barley is also known to contain antioxidants that inherit the property to repel the risk of cancer.

Here is an overview of nutritional make-up for 100 grams of whole grain barley grains.

Carbohydrates74 grams
Fibers18 grams
Proteins13 grams
Fats2 grams
Iron3.5 milligrams
Calcium33 milligrams
Manganese2 milligrams
Sodium12 milligrams
Phosphorous265milli grams
Folates19 micrograms
Selenium38 micrograms

Apart from this, zinc and copper are also part of the nutritional configuration of Barley. The quantity of zinc in 100 grams of Barley is about 18% of recommended daily intake, while that copper is 25% of the daily recommended intake.

How to Add Barely to Your Diet?

Barley is very easy to cook. Always soak Barley overnight before use. By soaking, the nutritious content increases, and nutrients are easily absorbed by the body.

Overnight soaking also decreases the impact of antinutrients, the substances present in whole grains that hinder the absorption of nutrients by the body.

When you are about to cook, rinse it well with water. The thumb rule is to keep Barley and water in a ratio of 1:3. This means 1 cup barley needs 3 cups water.

Pearl barley gets cooked within 1hour, while wholegrain barley takes up to 1.5 hours due to the additional fiber-rich layer.

The great thing is that Barley is cheap and readily available. It can be incorporated into several; dishes without much effort.

You can use Barley use for:

  • Making soups
  • Making stuffings
  • Making flours in baked dishes
  • Making stews and salads
  • Porridge and puddings

Nowadays, bread made with wholegrain barley is also available.

Another wonderful way to add Barley to your diet is by drinking barley water. This water is the one in which Barley is cooked and strained out.

Avoid buying ready-made barley water as it might be concocted with harmful sugars and sweetening agents. To play safe, prepare the water at home.

Precautions on daily consumption of barley

  • Barley contains gluten and is not suitable for people with celiac disease or gluten intolerance.
  • Barley also entails fructans, which are short-chain carbs. These carbs cause bloating gas and stomach-related discomforts in some people.
  • People who take diabetes medications should consult a doctor before consuming Barley.

Concluding Words

Barley serves a lot of benefits to people who have diabetes. It can bring your diabetes management routine on track.

It takes care of your heart health, weight management, and of course, helps to control blood glucose status effectively.

The grain is affordable as well as accessible. You can’t find any excuse to avoid it. If you do so, you are just depriving yourself of the immense health perks you can avail otherwise.



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