The Nutritional and Health Benefits of Barley

Updated on April 13, 2020
rajan jolly profile image

Rajan is a botany and chemistry major. He has worked as a poultry breeder for 23 years, breeding layer and broiler parents.

Barley field.
Barley field. | Source

About Barley

Latin name: Hordeum vulgare

Barley is the oldest known domestically grown and a major cereal grain belonging to the grass family that is native to Western Asia and Northeast Africa. It is a summer crop and is grown both in the temperate and tropical areas of the world. Barley tolerates soil salinity better than wheat, and it resembles wheat grain though it is smaller. It has been cultivated for more than 10,000 years.

Barley grains.
Barley grains. | Source

Nutrients in Barley

  • Barley is an excellent source of fiber ranging from 17–30%, the highest among all grains.
  • It has high levels of antioxidants.
  • Barley has excellent levels of the minerals selenium, zinc, copper, magnesium, phosphorus, iron and manganese.
  • It also contains high levels of B-complex vitamins and folate.
  • It contains good levels of potassium.
  • Sprouted barley is high in maltose.
  • Barley is high in calories, and 100 grams provide 15% of the daily requirement.

Nutrients in Barley

% Daily Value
1,474 kJ (352 kcal)
77.7 g
0.8 g
Dietary fiber
15.6 g
1.2 g
9.9 g
Thiamine (vit. B1)
0.2 mg
Riboflavin (vit. B2)
0.1 mg
Niacin (vit. B3)
4.6 mg
Pantothenic acid (B5)
0.3 mg
Vitamin B6
0.3 mg
Folate (vit. B9)
23 mcg
Vitamin C
0.0 mg
29.0 mg
2.5 mg
79.0 mg
221 mg
280 mg
2.1 mg
Raw barley (nutritional value per 100 grams). Percentages are relative to US recommendations for adults. Source: USDA Nutrient Database

Uses of Barley

  • Apart from barley being used as a grain and in health foods, it is used in the production of animal feeds and also to make alcoholic beverages like beer and wine and non-alcoholic beverages like barley water and barley tea.
  • It was used as a standard of measurement in England several centuries back. Barley has healing properties, and barley water and barley tea are two popular beverages in Asia that are made from it.
  • Barley contains gluten and is therefore unsuitable for those suffering from Celiac disease. In Islam, prophet Muhammed advocated the use of barley to treat 7 diseases.
  • Today, 98% of the barley grown in the United States is used for malting and livestock feed production. Barley today is grown in the U.S, Canada, Germany, Spain, France, and Russia, among other countries.

Barley ears.
Barley ears. | Source

Health Benefits

  • The fiber in barley keeps the intestine and colon healthy, reducing chances of digestive issues like constipation, hemorrhoids and colon cancer.
  • Barley also has plant lignans that are said to reduce the risk of breast cancer as well as other hormone-related cancers.
  • The soluble fiber beta-glucan is known to reduce glucose absorption and helps to keep both the glucose and insulin levels low, thus helping to prevent diabetes.
  • The high fiber, both soluble as well as insoluble, lowers the cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
  • Barley consumption maintains bone health. The phosphorus and copper keep bones strong, ensure normal bone production and prevent the risk of fractures and osteoporosis.
  • Selenium content helps to maintain skin elasticity, protects against free radicals and boosts immunity. The excellent levels of this mineral also ensure the reduction of risk of several cancers.
  • Barley consumption aids in preventing the development of gallstones.
  • Barley keeps one fuller longer, thereby reducing hunger pangs and aiding in weight loss. It especially targets the visceral fat and ensures a slimmer waistline.
  • Niacin in barley provides protection against many factors that lead to cardiovascular disease like preventing the formation of blood clots, preventing plaque deposition in the arteries and reducing cholesterol.
    It reduces blood pressure, prevents oxidation of free radicals and offers protection against cardiovascular disease in those postmenopausal women who consume 6 servings of whole grains like barley a week. It also reduces the risk of heart failure.
  • The copper levels in barley also check free radical damage and inflammation, thus providing flexibility to the blood vessels, bones, and joints, which is beneficial for those suffering from arthritis.
    Just 1 cup of cooked barley will provide 32% of the daily requirement of copper.

Potato Barley Soup


Barley Water

Barley water is a traditional and popular beverage in Britain. Barley water is made by boiling a tablespoon of barley in 1 liter of water till the water reduces to half. It is this simple to make.

Barley water is a good diuretic ensuring the toxins are flushed out of the body. This makes it an excellent beverage to treat urinary tract infections. Consume barley water throughout the day in such a case. It will not only control the infection but will also reduce body heat as it is cooling.

It quenches thirst, reduces burning sensation in the stomach, thus is a good summer season drink. It cleanses the kidneys too.

To make it more palatable, add lemon juice and honey or add orange juice. It also helps to reduce weight if consumed regularly. It also combats arthritic and rheumatic problems.

Roasted barley tea.
Roasted barley tea. | Source

Roasted Barley Tea

This is a caffeine-free tea that is popular in Japan, China and Korea. It can be used as a caffeine-free coffee substitute too. It is called Mugicha in Japan, Damaicha or Maicha in China and Boricha in Korea. In Japan, it is served chilled in summer while in Korea, it is served hot in winter and cold in summer. It is very easy to make at home.

To make roasted barley tea at home:

  1. Toast some barley in a skillet over medium heat taking care to stir till it turns a rich brown color evenly for about ten minutes.
  2. Put this roasted barley in boiling water and keep it simmering for about 20 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat, cover, and let it steep for 5 minutes.
  4. Strain and chill.

Quick Bread Recipe

Vegetable Barley Stew

Beef & Barley Soup

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2013 Rajan Singh Jolly


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    • rajan jolly profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA.

      Good to hear that Joan. Barley water is a great detoxifier and cooling drink as well. Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • profile image

      Joan hart 

      4 years ago

      I get barley tea from Japan each year as a gift . I keep a pitcher each day and drink it through out the day . I actually crave it.

    • rajan jolly profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      7 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA.

      I agree with you, we need to tread a new path with caution. Thanks for commenting.

    • Galadriel Arwen profile image

      Galadriel Arwen 

      7 years ago from USA

      Yes Rajan, it appears that folks with Celiac disease or Gluten-free people have gotten everyone flipped out about consuming wheat so Barley could be that wheat substitute they are looking for. Unfortunately, Barley does tend to cause some individuals an allergic reaction and various reports show a strong correlation between wheat and barley allergies. Thus, if allergic to wheat, test if you are allergic to Barley before eating.

      As you state, Barley is used to make a variety of items like beer, bread, soups, and stews. Buyer beware, like with most things, folks with allergies need to read ingredients to be certain they do not consume Barley if they have an allergy..

      Doctor John Dolittle [The central character in a Hugh Loftings children's book that became a made for TV movie.] said, "If you want to be healthy eat like a horse" and horses do eat Barley. Remember the rule of thumb, "Go easy when adding a new item into your daily diet." If you are not allergic, Barley may be a safe choice. I always make Beef and Barley Stew; it's delicious!

    • rajan jolly profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      7 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA.

      @Peggy-that is a wonderful way to get the benefits of barley and I certainly appreciate all the votes and sharing. Thank you.

      @Jo-thanks for the vote up and sharing.

      @ mr-veg-thank you for your input and visit.

      @MJennifer-thanks for commenting and sharing your experiences. I hope you like the barley tea and water as much as the soup. Appreciate your visit .

      @rebecca-thanks for appreciating.


    • vertualit profile image

      Abdus Salam 

      7 years ago from Bangladesh

      Very informative and useful hub. Thanks

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 

      7 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      This is awesome,Rajan. I love the recipes and for barley and the photos are just awesome. Boy, that soup looks tasty, even though the weather is hot here!

    • MJennifer profile image

      Marcy J. Miller 

      7 years ago from Arizona

      Very interesting! I've always preferred barley as a grain for my horses over the much-more popular oats -- in my opinion they assimilate more of the grain, and they have a better sheen than oat-fed animals. When I open a new bag of it I can't help but running my hands through it and smelling it -- it's a clean grain (not as dusty as oats) and has such a great texture and aroma.

      I am looking forward to making barley water and roasted barley tea for myself! I've always enjoyed barley soup so I'm sure I'll enjoy the flavor.

    • mr-veg profile image


      7 years ago from Colorado United States

      Great information Rajan ! We do use Barley at our house sometimes to make dosa out of it, it yummy as well as healthy at the same time :)

    • tobusiness profile image

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 

      7 years ago from Lincolnshire, U.K

      Rajan, this is excellent!...saving and sharing.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      7 years ago from Houston, Texas

      I love adding barley to homemade soups. Haven't done that in a while so will put it on my shopping list after reading this and learning all about the health benefits. UUI votes and sharing and will also pin.

    • rajan jolly profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      7 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA.

      Thanks sweetie. I hope you can use barley more now.

    • sweetie1 profile image


      7 years ago from India

      I knew barley was good for health but didn't know that it is very good source of anti oxidant too.. Voting it up and awesome

    • rajan jolly profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      7 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA.

      Thanks for visiting and leaving your comments, Aurelio.

    • alocsin profile image

      Aurelio Locsin 

      7 years ago from Orange County, CA

      I've had this in some soups but since I don't drink, have not tasted them in alcoholic beverages. Voting this Up and Interesting.

    • rajan jolly profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      7 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA.

      Nithya, it does take a while to get used to it. Thanks for reading.

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 

      7 years ago from Dubai

      Great hub, useful and informative. I have tasted barley but I just don't like the taste. After reading about the benefits I think I will try again. Thanks for sharing.

    • rajan jolly profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      7 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA.

      @ Devika - good to note that you are thinking of using it more. Thanks.

      @ Sasha -Good to know your motivated to drink more of this healthy tea. Thanks for sharing the hub.

    • Mama Kim 8 profile image

      Sasha Kim 

      7 years ago

      My in-laws make a barley tea... I'm certainly going to drink more of it! Thank you as always for the enlightening hub! Voting a bunch and sharing!

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      7 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Barley is so beneficial to us, most of what you mentioned I had no idea of. I will definitely cook barley more often, thanks for writing this hub.

    • rajan jolly profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      7 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA.

      @ Rasma - I'm glad you appreciate the info and thanks for sharing.

      @ Moonlake - Thanks for stopping by.

    • moonlake profile image


      7 years ago from America

      I'm making soup today and it has barley in it. Great hub on the health benefits of barley. Voted up.

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 

      7 years ago from Daytona Beach, Florida

      Voted up and useful. Thanks for sharing this. Have used barley in cooking a lot and I enjoy it. Great to know all about the benefits and great recipe for barley tea will try it. Passing this on.

    • rajan jolly profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      7 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA.

      @ Carol - thanks for the support and appreciate your input.

      @ Eddy - feels good to be appreciated. Thanks, friend.

      @ Lizam - not good to learn that you can't eat it but there are many other healthy options available. Appreciate the read and comments. Thanks.

    • Lizam1 profile image


      7 years ago from Scotland

      Your hubs are well researched. Sadly I cannot eat barley but I was interested to learn more about it.

    • Eiddwen profile image


      7 years ago from Wales

      Another great share.

      This series of yours is amazing and still going strong.

      Enjoy your weekend.


    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 

      7 years ago from Arizona

      Barley is not one of my favorite grains but I do add it to soups occasionally. My husband loves it. I have always known of its health benefits but learned more with your hub. As always a pleasure to read. Voting up and pinning.


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