Is Barley Good for Diabetics?-Check Health Benefits

It’s not easy for a diabetic person to control their diet. Diet control is the most important step in managing type 2 diabetes. Many studies like the one done by the American Heart Association, have found that replacing refined or simple sugars in diet with more complex sources is the best way to control your diet. Barley is one of those complex sources of carbohydrates and is also rich in fiber. So you can say that barley is good for diabetes.

Barley is a grain that has a mild taste and is chewy in nature. It is chiefly cultivated in temperate weather. The external shell is an indigestible part of this grain. Post-processing of the external shell, processing of the grain is done into pearled or hulled barley.

What are Barley and Hulled Barley?

Barley is a grain, and grains are certain carbs. Similar to other grains, the “carbohydrate choice” portion of cooked barley, which contains approximately 15 g of carbs, is a modest one-third cup. Similar to other grains, barley spikes blood sugar levels as it digests most of the carbs in starch form. However, some barley carbohydrates are fiber.

Hulled barley is the type of barley in which there is no external shell. Pearled barley is a more common form of barley, and it has most of its fiber removed. Research has found that individuals who had diets containing whole grains had a 17% lower potential of attaining diabetes and cancer.


Consuming whole grains like hulled barley is associated with a lower risk of chronic ailments and death. Hulled barley comprises fiber and other plant compounds useful for health.

Nutritional Information About Barley

Nutritional Information About Barley

Barley is a whole grain full of nutrients. On cooking, it doubles in size. Hence, take care while reading the nutrition label. Definitely, owing to its low GI score of 28, it noticeably reduces the risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes.

According to the latest data from the United States of Agriculture, 100-gram uncooked hulled barley comprises nutrients such as

  • Carbohydrates: 73.5 g
  • Fiber: 17.3 g
  • Protein: 12.5 g
  • Fat: 2.3 g
  • Vitamin B1,B2,B3 and B6: 43%, 17%,23% and 16% respectively of the RDI
  • Manganese: 97% of the RDI
  • Selenium: 54% of the RDI
  • Magnesium: 33% of the RDI
  • Phosphorus: 26% of the RDI
  • Copper: 25% of the RDI
  • Iron: 20% of the RDI
  • Zinc: 18% of the RDI
  • Calories: 350

The soluble fiber content of barley helps reduce cholesterol levels. It also improves blood sugar control in a person’s body. Moreover, barley is found to improve digestion and aid in weight loss, hence preventing obesity.

The major form of fiber in barley is beta-glucan. It is a soluble fiber that produces a gel when combined with fluid. Beta-glucan is also present in oats. It aids in reducing cholesterol and improving glucose control. Furthermore, barley comprises antioxidants, including lutein, vitamin E, zeaxanthin, and beta-carotene. All these antioxidants aid in guarding the body against cell damage due to oxidative stress.


Barley contains several vital vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Besides, it’s a rich source of beta-glucan, a fiber that might help reduce cholesterol and blood glucose levels. This would make you understand how healthy barley is.

Is Barley Good for Diabetics?

The answer to: is barley good for diabetics, is a big yes! Whole grain barley is a rich source of dietary fiber, which permits slow digestion. It is an extremely nutritious food for diabetic patients when it’s taken with a high level of magnesium. According to a study published by the National Institute of Health, barley consumption results results in lower insulin levels and posst prandial blood glucose. It is also good for people who are at a high risk of diabetes.

The absorption of carbs in barley occurs and gets converted into sugar within the blood slowly. This aids in maintaining energy and cellular function without spiking blood sugar levels quickly. Other whole grains exhibit many of these anti-diabetic advantages; however, it’s likely that whole-grain barley is the greatest of them all.

Also Read: Is Watermelon Safe For Diabetic Peoples?

Barley Glycemic Index

Barley has a low GI value, which measures how rapidly a food product spikes blood glucose. According to the Glycemic Index Research and GI news, the barley glycemic index of 30 is considered the lowest of all whole grains.

Pearled barley (the external bran layer is removed) has a GI score of 22 to 29. After boiling it for nearly 60 minutes, some of its fibrous husks are lost, and the GI value reaches up to 35. Rolled barley flakes prepared from pearled barley have a GI value of 66.

Read More: Vegetarian Diabetes Diet Plan With Indian Foods

Health Benefits Of Barley

Health Benefits Of Barley

Might Benefit Blood Glucose Control

Barley might help lower insulin and blood glucose levels, which might lower one’s risk of diabetes. Whole-grain barley contains a rich amount of fiber, such as the soluble fiber beta-glucan. It delays the absorption of glucose by attaching to it in the gut.

In a study of obese females who consumed barley or oats plus glucose, both barley and oats reduced the levels of insulin and blood glucose. Yet, barley was far more efficacious, lowering the levels by 60 to 65%, than 30 to 35% with oats.

Another study of 10 healthy males observed that people who consumed barley with dinner had 30% improved insulin sensitivity. This was following breakfast the subsequent morning than the males who consumed refined wheat bread with dinner.

Moreover, a review has associated whole-grain breakfast cereal intake, such as cereals consisting of barley, with a reduced risk of diabetes.


Research has found that consuming barley for diabetes is thought to reduce blood sugar and insulin levels. Moreover, barley gi is low, making barley a smart option for diabetic patients.

Might act as a Digestive-Aid

According to the U.S.D.A., ½ a cup (100 g) of uncooked hulled barley contains nearly 17.3 g of fiber, or 70% and 45% of the RDI for females and males, respectively. Dietary fiber makes up the bulk of stool, making it simple for it to travel through the digestive tract.

Barley might help relieve constipation. In a study of individuals suffering from chronic constipation, 9 g of a sprouted barley supplement regularly for 10 days and a double dose for 10 days augmented the volume and incidence of bowel movements.

Moreover, barley has been found to improve the signs of ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease. In another study, individuals having moderate ulcerative colitis experienced relief when they consumed 20 to 30 g of a sprouted barley supplement.

Barley also supports the growth of good bacteria in a person’s gut. The beta-glucan fiber in barley might assist in feeding healthy gut bacteria, augmenting their probiotic action. In another study by the National Institute of Health, which involved healthy participants, 60 g of barley a day augmented a useful type of bacteria in the digestive tract that might aid in lowering inflammation and improving blood glucose stability.


Barley contains a rich fiber content, which is essential for proper digestion. Research has found that consuming barley lowers constipation, improves the signs of bowel conditions, and augments the number of useful gut bacteria.

Other Barley Benefits

Eating barley may have other health benefits as well.

May Aid Weight Loss

Does barley reduce weight? Since a person’s body fails to digest fiber, food products rich in fiber may add volume to one’s diet without augmenting the calories. This increases the utility of high-fiber foods for people on a weight loss journey. A review on whole grains depicted that while a few grains, like oats, barley, and rye, augmented the fullness sensation after a meal, corn and whole-grain wheat did not.

In a study published by the NIH, individuals who consumed barley for breakfast had reduced levels of hunger at lunch. Moreover, they consumed less at future meals than people who consumed rice or whole wheat. In another research, rats who had a kind of barley rich in beta-glucan fiber consumed 19% less as compared to rats who had barley with less amount of beta-glucan. Besides, the animals consuming the greater-beta-glucan barley showed significant weight loss.

One of the finest ways in which barley impacts fullness and hunger is by reducing the levels of ghrelin. This hormone accounts for the feelings of hunger.

Also Read: Can Diabetics Eat Honey?

Might Reduce the Levels of Cholesterol

Many studies like the one done by the NIH have proven that consuming barley might be beneficial for cholesterol levels. A barley-constituted diet rich in soluble fiber has been seen to reduce the levels of total and “bad” LDL cholesterol by 5 to 10%.

In a study of males with high cholesterol, consuming a meal with 20% of calories derived from barley:

  • Reduced the levels of total cholesterol by 21%
  • Reduced the LDL cholesterol by 25% and,
  • Augmented HDL cholesterol by 19%.

In another study that included males with high cholesterol, consuming a combination of rice and pearled barley lowered LDL cholesterol and reduced belly fat more than males who had rice alone.


Barley might exert other health benefits, such as weight loss and improvements in cholesterol levels (total, HDL, LDL).

Potential Risks

Whole grains are usually an excellent addition to anybody’s diet. Yet, a few individuals might wish to not have barley. The primary reason is that it’s a whole grain similar to wheat and rye, consisting of gluten. As a result, it’s not a suitable option for people with a celiac disorder or other intolerances to wheat.

In addition, barley comprises short-chain carbs like fructans. These are fermentable kinds of fiber. Fructans might result in bloating or gas formation in individuals having digestion problems like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Thus, if a person experiences IBS or has a sensitive gut, he or she must totally avoid barley. Finally, barley exerts a strong effect on glucose levels. A person might wish to practice caution while consuming barley if he or she is diabetic or consuming any anti-diabetes medicines or insulin.


Whole grains like barley are healthy inclusions in a majority of diets. Yet, individuals with celiac disease or other wheat intolerances must not have barley. Also, people using anti-diabetes medications must practice caution.

Ways of Adding Barley to a Diet

Even if barley constitutes only 0.36% of cereal grains, it is simple to include it in one’s diet. Barley is available in many forms:

  • Pearl barley:  It has been partially steamed and bran and hull layers are removed. This form of barley cooks more rapidly as compared to hulled barley. Also, it contains fewer nutrients than hulled barley.
  • Hulled barley is the whole-grain form of barley. In this, only the external, indigestible hull layer is removed. It’s chewier, and the cooking duration is also longer than that of other types of barley.
  • Barley flakes: These are sliced and flattened like rolled oats. Their cooking is quite fast, but they contain less nutrients than hulled barley.
  • People may utilize hulled barley as an alternative to other whole grains like oats, rice, quinoa, or buckwheat.

To cook barley, rinse the grains underwater and remove the hulls. Afterwards, cook it using a 1:3 ratio of barley to water. For instance, for ½ cup of barley, utilize one and a half cups of water. The cooking of pearled barley is completed in 30 minutes, while hulled barley takes 90 minutes to become tender.

Barley Recipes

  • Diabetics can try barley flakes as a breakfast porridge rather than oats.
  • Add barley to stews or soups.
  • Note about barley flour and diabetes. Mix wheat atta with barley atta in preparing baked products.
  • Consume it as a side dish in place of rice or quinoa.
  • Try having barley water. It is worth mentioning the use of barley water to lose weight.

Read More: 7 Day Indian Diet Plan for Diabetic Patients

Barley Water

Barley water is a beverage prepared from water cooked with barley. At times, the barley grains are strained. And, at times, they are easily added in and combined with a sweetener or fruit juice to prepare a beverage comparable to lemonade. People take barley water for huge health benefits.

Often, barley water is flavored using lemon rind or lime juice. The drink aids in weight management, getting rid of toxins, keeping digestion regular, and much more. More benefits are given below.

Barley Water Benefits

  • Blood sugar control
  • Lowers cholesterol
  • Weight loss
  • Full of antioxidants and vitamins
  • Supports better immunity
  • Improves digestion


Barley is a multipurpose grain that people may replace with other whole grains in their side dishes, salads, soups, or stews. Barley contains a rich fiber content, that too, beta-glucan. It is thought to lower the levels of blood glucose and cholesterol. Also, it improves digestion. Whole-grain, hulled barley is more healthful as compared to refined, pearled barley. People may replace them with any whole grain and can simply add them to their meals.


Is barley rich in carbs?

Barley is a nourishing cereal grain and is prominent for its nutty flavor and chewy texture. Also, barley is rich in fiber, with 6.5 g and 41.5 g of net carbs in every one cup (170 gram) serving of cooked barley.

Can I have barley prior to going to bed?

It comprises amino acids, tryptophan, and melatonin which mix their effects to aid better sleep. Barley tea is free of any caffeine; hence it is totally safe for consumption before bed.

Is barley safe for kidney patients?

Research proposes that the nutrient profile of barley water might add to kidney and liver health. Also, it is known to prevent kidney stones and UTIs from developing. Yet, more studies are required to check these effects.

What are the ill effects of barley?

Barley may result in gas, bloating, or sensations of fullness in a few individuals. This generally reduces with its constant use. Also, barley may result in a hypersensitive reaction in a few.

Last Updated on by Dr. Damanjit Duggal 


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