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Health Benefits of Barley, Uses And Its Side Effects

Last Updated: Aug 24, 2020

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The health benefits of Barley are such that it helps in keeping the intestine healthy, protects against Gallstones, prevents osteoporosis, boosts immune system, provides skin care, controls cholesterol levels, manages diabetes, prevents Asthma, prevents Cancer, protects heart health, reduces symptoms of arthritis, cures impotency


Barley (Hordeum vulgare L.), a member of the grass family, is a major cereal grain grown in temperate climates globally. It is a wonderfully versatile cereal grain with a rich nutlike flavor and an appealing chewy, pasta-like consistency. Its appearance resembles wheat berries, although it is slightly lighter in color.

Sprouted barley is naturally high in maltose, a sugar that serves as the basis for both malt syrup sweeteners. When fermented, barley is used as an ingredient in beer and other alcoholic beverages. Barley has been ranked fourth among grains in quantity produced (144 million tonnes) after maize, rice and wheat.

Nutritional Value of Barley

About one cup of cooked barley, which is about equivalent to 1/3 cup uncooked and it provides 217 Calories, about 1 gram of fat, 10 grams of fibre, 7 grams of protein, 45 grams of carbohydrates, 1 mg of manganese (60%), 23 mg of selenium (42%), 0.3 mg of copper (34%), 0.4 mg of vitamin B1 (33%), 162 mg of phosphorus (23%), 80 mg of magnesium (20%) and 8 mg of vitamin B3 (18%).

Nutritional facts Per 100 Grams

2.3 g
Total Fat
12 mg
452 mg
73 g
Total Carbohydrate
12 g

Vitamins and Minerals

19 %
15 %
Vitamin B-6
33 %

Health Benefits of Barley

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Mentioned below are the best health benefits of Barley. Barley gives benefits during pregnancy period and is used in Ayurveda for medicinal purposes. Also, we discuss some side effects barley and how you can use barley in a different form. Check out barley cultivation procedure also.

Barley Good for Digestion Health

Barley, being an excellent source of fibre, keeps the body toxin-free. Its grass, which is rich in dietary fibre, acts as a fuel source to the friendly bacteria in our large intestine. These bacteria help in fermenting the fibre content of the barley, thereby forming butyric acid, which is the primary fuel for intestinal cells. It is greatly effective in maintaining a healthy colon.

Also drink barley water for digestion problems, by keeping the intestine in proper health, it helps to decrease the movement time of feces and keeps the stomach clean. It greatly reduces the chances of colon cancer and hemorrhoids as well.

Barley Helps in Preventing Osteoporosis

The phosphorus and copper content in barley grass guarantees an overall health of bones. It is a natural remedy for those who have Osteoporosis. Its juice is known to have 11 times greater calcium content than milk. Calcium is one of the key components in protecting bone health.

Manganese is needed for normal bone production, as well as in cases of iron deficiency anaemia. The manganese content found in barley works in association with B-complex vitamins, thereby keeping the overall health intact.

Barley to Boost Immune System

Being highly nutritious, barley is particularly helpful as it strengthens the body’s immune system and reduces the chances of cold and flu. Iron improves the blood volume and prevents anemia and fatigue.

Barley aids in the proper kidney functioning and the development of body cells. Furthermore, it contains copper, which forms hemoglobin and red blood cells.

Barley Powder Benefits For Skin

Barley is a good source of selenium, which helps to preserve skin elasticity, thereby protecting it against free radical damage and loosening. Moreover, it also improves heart, pancreas, and immune system functioning. A deficiency of selenium can lead to cancers of the skin, colon, prostate, liver, stomach, and breast. You can consume barley flour, barley powder, barley tea for skin care.

Barley Controls Cholesterol Levels

Barley’s insoluble fibre yields propionic acid that helps in keeping the blood cholesterol levels low. It, being an excellent source of both soluble and insoluble fibres, is also specifically recommended by doctors for its naturally low-fat content and zero cholesterol properties.

Barley Good for Gestational & Diabetes Type 2

Barley effectively helps to control Type 2 diabetes. However, this type of diabetes can be prevented by losing weight, getting involved in a vigorous physical activity, and including abundant whole grains in the diet. Therefore, high fibre foods should be included in the daily diet of such diabetic patients.

Barley grain has all the essential vitamins and minerals, particularly beta-glucan soluble fibre that slows down glucose absorption. Researches has proved that insulin-resistant men who consumed barley beta-glucan soluble fibre had significantly reduced glucose and insulin levels as compared to other test subjects.

Barley Helps in Preventing Asthma

14.5 kDa is a barley endosperm protein and a major allergen in baker’s asthma disease. This is an airborne occupational ailment, mostly prevalent in confectioneries and bakeries. It proves to be a very effective preventive measure for such kinds of major wheat-flour allergens.

Barley Helps to Prevent Cancer

Barley contains certain types of phytonutrients known as plant lignans, which are transformed by friendly flora in our intestines into mammalian lignans. One of these new lignans is called enterolactone, which helps to prevent breast and other hormonal cancers.

Barley Helps in Protecting heart health

Atherosclerosis is a condition when the artery walls thicken due to the coagulation or deposition of fatty materials like cholesterol. Barley contains niacin (a vitamin B complex) that reduces the overall cholesterol and lipoprotein levels and minimizes cardiovascular risk factors. Postmenopausal women having high blood pressure, high cholesterol or cardiovascular diseases are specifically recommended to have it at least 6 times a week.

Barley Benefits for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Researches claims that consuming a high-fiber diet decreases inflammation. Some whole grains like barley containing soluble fibre, helps the body to absorb nutrients better and reduce any pain related to swelling and inflammation of the joints or arthritis.

Barley Helps in Curing Impotency

Barley is known to contain arginine and nitric oxide, both of which are responsible for penile erection and can treat penile dysfunction. Arginine is also known to increase sperm and egg cell production. Including barley grains in diet on a regular basis can stimulate sexual performance in both men and women.

Uses of Barley

Barley has been used as animal fodder, as a source of fermentable material for beer and certain distilled beverages, and as a component of various health foods. Barley is used in soups and stews, and in barley bread of various cultures. Barley grains are commonly made into malt in a traditional and ancient method of preparation.


Side-Effects & Allergies of Barley

Barley is likely safe for most people when taken by mouth appropriately. Barley flour can sometimes cause asthma.

Barley sprouts are possibly unsafe and should not be eaten in high amounts during pregnancy. There is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking barley for mothers who are breast-feeding and to stay on the safe side and avoiding its use is the best.

The gluten in barley can make celiac disease worse and so the use of barley should be avoided.

Consumption of barley might cause an allergic reaction in people who are hypersensitive to other cereal grains.

Barley might lower the blood sugar levels to a large extent. Hence the diabetes medications might need to be adjusted by the healthcare provider.

Since barley might lower blood sugar levels, there is a concern that it might interfere with blood sugar control during and after surgery. So using of barley should be stopped at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.

Cultivation of Barley

Barley originated in Ethiopia and Southeast Asia, where it has been cultivated for more than 10,000 years. Barley was used by ancient civilizations as a food for humans and animals, as well as to make alcoholic beverages; the first known recipe for barley wine dates back to 2800 BC in Babylonia. In addition, since ancient times, barley water has been used for various medicinal purposes.

Barley played an important role in ancient Greek culture as a staple bread-making grain as well as an important food for athletes, who attributed much of their strength to their barley-containing training diets. Roman athletes continued this tradition of honouring barley for the strength that it gave them.

Gladiators were known as hordearii, which means 'eaters of barley'. Barley was also honoured in ancient China as a symbol of male virility since the heads of barley are heavy and contain numerous seeds.

Since wheat was very expensive and not widely available in the Middle Ages, many Europeans at that time made bread from a combination of barley and rye. In the 16th century, the Spanish introduced barley to South America, while the English and Dutch settlers of the 17th century brought it with them to the United States.

Today, the largest commercial producers of barley are Canada, the United States, the Russian Federation, Germany, France and Spain.


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    Written ByDrx Hina FirdousPhD (Pharmacology) Pursuing, M.Pharma (Pharmacology), B.Pharma - Certificate in Nutrition and Child CarePharmacology
    Reviewed By
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    Reviewed ByDt. Ms. Shilpa MarwahB.Sc (Home Science), Post Graduation Diploma in Dietetics and Public Health NutritionDietitian/Nutritionist

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