Barley Health Benefits, Nutritional Facts, Use Tips, Recipes

The health benefits of Barley are exemplified by examining the barley nutritional data summarized in a chart. Barley is a rich source of proteins, several B group vitamins as well as Vitamins A, K. It is also a rich source of niacin, folate and choline.

Barley grain are relatively rich in a wide range of minerals such as selenium, manganese, zinc copper, sodium, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron and calcium.

This article summarizes the outstanding health aspects of barley grains, provides a nutrition chart and compares the nutrients in barley with other similar grains. See the tips and guides for using barley in food and drinks to improve your overall health.

Pearl barley is produced from the seeds of a grass (Hordeum vulgare). The hull or the barley is removed and the barley grains are steamed to remove the bran.

The grains are fried and polished (via pearling) to make the barley grains, easier and faster to cook, and make the grains more edible and chewable.

Even though the pearling removes the bran, barley still contains a lot of both soluble and insoluble dietary fiber.

Though seldom used, Barley has many health benefits due to its outstanding nutrient content.
Though seldom used, Barley has many health benefits due to its outstanding nutrient content. | Source

Nutrient Summary for Barley

Per 1 cup Cooked Pearl Barley
Calories - 193
Protein - 3.5g
Fat - 0.7g
Cholesterol - 0
Carbohydrate - 44g
Total dietary fiber - 6g
Calcium - 17mg
Iron - 2mg
Magnesium - 35 mg
Phosphorus - 85 mg
Potassium -146 mg
Sodium - 5 mg
Zinc - 1.2 mg
Copper - 0.16 mg
Manganese - 0.4 mg
Selenium - 13.5 mcg
Vitamin C - 0
Thiamin - 0.13 mg
Riboflavin - 0.09 mg
Niacin - 3.23 mg
Pantothenic acid - 0.21 mg
Vitamin B6 - 0.18 mg
Folate - 25 mg
Vitamin B12 - 0
Vitamin A - 11 IU
Vitamin E - 0.01 mg
Vitamin K - 1.25mcg

Health Benefits of Pearl Barley

The two tables summarize the nutrients in a cup of cooked pearl barely and for 100g of dry barley, compared with other grains.

Barley is a relatively rich source of dietary fiber with 6 g in a cup of cooked barley and 15g in 100g of fry barley.

This level is higher than for most other grains (except for bulgur).

Dietary fiber helps keep cholesterol levels down and fiber is known to speed up the rate of removal of waste products from the bowel and colon and helps in prevent constipation.

Comparisons with the amount of fiber in 1/2 cup of barley and other grains highlights the high fiber content of barley.

For 1/2 cup for cooked grain

  • Pearl barley has 3 grams
  • White long-grain rice has less than 1 gram
  • Couscous has about 1 gram
  • Brown long-grain rice has 1.75 grams

► Barley has the lowest fat level of any of the grains in the table at 1.16 g per 100g of grain.

► Barley is also relatively rich in Vitamins A and K.

► Selenium, copper and zinc levels are higher than in most other grains.

► Barley has amongst the lowest level of saturated fat for the grains included in the table.

► Barley is relatively rich in niacin (Vitamin B3), choline and thiamine ( Vitamin B1).

Comparison of Nutrients for Various Grains

For 100g
Barley
Buck-wheat
Bulgur
Corn
Millet
Oats
Rye
Wheat
Calories (Cal)
352
343
342
359
378
389
338
341
Protein (g)
9.92
13.25
12.29
9.31
11.02
16.90
10.34
11.31
Total Fat (g)
1.16
3.41
1.34
4.69
4.22
6.90
1.63
1.71
Carbohydrates (g)
77.72
71.51
75.86
73.38
72.84
66.28
75.86
75.90
Dietary Fiber (g)
15.60
9.88
18.29
7.14
8.40
10.51
15.15
12.29
Sugar (g)
0.80
0.00
0.40
0.64
 
 
0.97
0.42
Vitamins
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Vitamin C (mg)
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
Thiamin (mg)
0.19
0.10
0.23
0.38
0.42
0.76
0.32
0.39
Riboflavin (mg)
0.11
0.43
0.11
0.20
0.29
0.14
0.25
0.11
Niacin (mg)
4.60
7.02
5.11
3.58
4.72
0.96
4.27
4.38
Pantothenic Acid (mg)
0.28
1.23
1.05
0.42
0.85
1.35
1.46
0.95
Vitamin B6 (mg)
0.26
0.21
0.34
0.61
0.38
0.12
0.29
0.37
Folate (mcg)
24.00
30.59
25.71
19.05
84.00
56.41
37.87
37.50
Vitamin B12 (mcg)
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
0.00
Vitamin A (IU)
22.00
0.00
8.57
211.90
0.00
0.00
11.83
8.33
Vitamin E (mg)
0.02
 
0.06
0.48
0.06
 
0.85
1.00
Vitamin K (mcg)
2.20
 
2.00
0.24
1.00
 
5.92
1.88
Minerals
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Calcium (mg)
28.00
18.82
34.29
7.14
8.00
53.85
23.67
31.25
Iron (mg)
2.50
2.21
2.46
2.67
3.00
4.72
2.63
4.56
Magnesium (mg)
80.00
230.59
162.86
126.19
114.00
176.92
108.88
93.75
Phosphorus (mg)
220.00
345.88
300.00
207.14
284.00
523.08
331.36
354.17
Potassium (mg)
280.00
461.18
411.43
283.33
196.00
428.21
508.88
431.25
Sodium (mg)
8.00
0.00
17.14
35.71
4.00
2.56
2.37
2.08
Zinc (mg)
2.12
2.40
1.94
2.19
1.68
3.97
2.65
3.33
Copper (mg)
0.42
1.10
0.33
0.31
0.75
0.63
0.37
0.36
Manganese (mg)
1.32
1.30
3.05
0.48
1.63
4.92
2.58
3.82
Selenium (mcg)
37.80
8.24
2.29
15.24
2.80
 
13.96
 
Fatty Acids
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Saturated Fat (g)
0.24
0.74
0.23
0.66
0.72
1.22
0.20
0.28
Mono Fat (g)
0.15
1.04
0.17
1.24
0.77
2.18
0.21
0.20
Poly Fat (g)
0.56
1.04
0.54
2.14
2.13
2.54
0.77
0.75

Uses of Barley

  • Barley has traditionally been used in soups, stews and similar dishes, but it is very versatile and can be used as a thickener instead of flour, and as a Low GI substitute for rice.
  • An interesting twist on the traditional risotto is to use pearl barley to replace some or all of the rice. It provides a very nutty, creamy and full rich taste and texture to a risotto.
  • Pearl barley is used in many lamb and beef stew recipes that are slow cooked. It adds extra flavor and provides a natural thickening to the dish.
  • Barley can also be added to soups, pilafs, stews and grain-based salads.
  • Barley has a very low GI level and using pearl barley instead of rice provides a meal that sustains the appetite for longer and can be beneficial for weight loss.
  • You can also add barley to oats to make a warming breakfast porridge.
  • Cooked barely has also been widely used as a baby food.

Barley Water

Water made from barley is a fabulous thirst quencher, and has been a traditional drink mixed with lemon juice, for quenching the thirst when playing sport such as tennis. Barely water is given to sick people and is also useful as a general tonic and for stimulating the appetite. Barley water has also been a traditionally used to cleanse the kidneys. Barely water can be easily prepared by boiling about one part of barley in 15 parts of water and simmering till the volume decreases by about one third.

Lemon Barley Water

Lemon Barley water is a traditional refreshing summer thirst-quencher and tonic.

  • 3/4 cup of pearl barley
  • Juice of 2 lemons and zest finely grated
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated ginger
  • 1/2 cup of honey (or sugar)
  • 6 cups of water

Wash the barley thoroughly in a sieve by rinsing with cold water until the water runs clear. Transfer the barley in a saucepan and add the grated lemon zest, grated ginger and 6 cups of water. Over high heat, bring the mixture to the boil and then lower the heat to provide a gentle simmer. Continue simmering for 10-15 minutes. Strain the mixture through a very fine sieve or a cloth suspended in a sieve to remove the barley and other pieces. Add the honey to the warm liquid and stir to dissolve. Add the lemon juice, mix well and set aside to cool to room temperature. Transfer to storage bottles and refrigerate. Serve chilled with ice. One of the most refreshing drinks imaginable.

© 2012 Dr. John Anderson

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Comments 5 comments

carol7777 profile image

carol7777 4 years ago from Arizona

Everything anyone needs to know about barley. I think knowing that something is so healthful makes it more tasty to eat. Barley is cheap and healthy. Thanks for sharing this huge amount of inforamtion. Voting up.


littlerose11 profile image

littlerose11 4 years ago

I am the one benefited the powerful of barly..nice


BlissfulWriter profile image

BlissfulWriter 3 years ago

Those individuals like me with gluten sensitivity need to avoid barley, wheat, and rye.


Pollyanna Jones profile image

Pollyanna Jones 22 months ago from United Kingdom

I was browsing Hubs whilst eating a beef stew when I came across this. I included pearl barley in the ingredients, and it's great to know it's so healthy! You're quite right, it thickens it up beautifully with a slow cooker. I really like the nutty, and almost ale-like twang it gives to a meal.


janderson99 profile image

janderson99 22 months ago from Australia on Planet Water Author

Yes its an old-fashioned soup ingredient that should be revived. I will add some recipes to this article.

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