3 Important Health Benefits of Barley (+ recipes!)

Barley has been making headlines lately for its unsung health benefits. Check out some of the health benefits of barley plus recipes to get you cooking.

A look at barley’s nutritional profile makes it clear that this whole grain has a lot going for it. It†is one of the†highest fiber whole grains, according to The Whole Grains Council. A cup of cooked barley contains less than 200†calories while delivering†24 percent of your daily fiber needs. It also contains four grams of protein and†12 percent of your daily iron requirements.

Compare that to a more common whole grain, like brown rice. A cup of medium grain brown rice contains 218 calories and 14 percent of†the RDA for fiber. It has a bit more proteinófive grams for barley’s four, but it gives you half of the iron.


Health Benefits of Barley

1. Lowers Bad Cholesterol

A recent study found that barley rivals oats in cholesterol-lowering power, but with fewer calories. Barley†has less than 200 calories per serving, while rolled oats clock in at a little over 300 calories per cup. Oats do have more protein, fiber and iron than barley,†so†don’t kick those oats to the curb! Maybe just work barley into your meal rotation to get that cholesterol-lowering†benefit with fewer calories. There are some breakfast barley recipes†listed in the†Barley Recipes section below.

2. Lowers Blood Sugar

Back in February, another study found that barley is good for lowering blood sugar. People eating three servings of barley per day also†had reduced risk factors for type 2 diabetes and heart disease. The researchers think that barley’s unique fiber profile is what made it so beneficial to blood sugar.

3. Reduced Mortality Rate

Barley, like other whole grains, helps reduce risk of early death, according to a study published†in June of 2016. People who ate four or more servings of whole grains per day had a 22 percent lower risk of premature death compared to people who ate little to no whole grains per day. Replacing refined carbohydratesólike white breadówith barley and other whole grains†has significant impacts on heart and gut health†among other risk factors for premature death.

How to Cook Barley

There are two kinds of barley: pearl and hulled. Pearl barley cooks more quickly. The directions below give cooking times for each.

Save Recipe


  • 1 cup barley
  • water (amount varies - see instructions)


  1. On the stovetop: Combine your barley and water in a saucepan, and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, checking on the pan every 5-10 minutes. Pearl barley takes about 25 minutes. Hulled needs about 40 minutes and may need more water toward the end of cooking time.
  2. In the pressure cooker: Combine pearl barley with 2 1/2 cups water or hulled barley with 3 cups water. Cook pearl barley at high pressure for 22 minutes with a natural release. Hulled barley needs 30 minutes with a natural release.

Barley Recipes

Ready to get cooking? Below are some sweet and some savory barley recipes to†get you started.

  • Use barley instead of rice.†Barley works great as the base for grain bowls where you’d normally use rice. Pile roasted veggies on top of cooked barley, and supper is served.
  • Add it to soup.†Barley’s hearty, chewy texture is great for turning a soup into a meal. Try Cait Johnson’s Healing Barley Soup!
  • Toss it into salads.†Grain salads make lovely, light suppers and barley can definitely be part of that menu. This simple eggplant and barley salad is a great example.
  • Serve it at breakfast. If you’ve never had sweet barley cereal, you’re in for a treat! Try Veg Girl RD’s Coconut Mango Barley Bowl. If savory breakfasts are more your thing, check out Peaceful Dumpling’s Barley Breakfast Scramble.
  • Pressure cook it. For a quick and easy barley dish, put your pressure cooker to work! JL Fields has a great recipe for Bean and Barley Vegetable Stew made in the pressure cooker.

Once you get the swing of how to cook barley and where its texture and taste work best, there are endless ways to use it!

3 Important Health Benefits of Barlet (Plus Recipes)


Images via Thinkstock.


Diamonds C
Diamonds C6 days ago

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Telica R
Telica R10 days ago

thanks for sharing

Stephanie s
Stephanie s10 days ago

Thank you

Emma Z
Emma Z11 days ago

thank you

Paulo R
Paulo Reeson11 days ago


Paulo R
Paulo Reeson11 days ago


Paulo Reeson
Paulo Reeson12 days ago


Rob Chloe Sam N
Rob Chloe Sam N13 days ago

We love adding barley to homemade soups, Thanks for sharing this.

Greta H
Greta H13 days ago

thanks for sharing

Mona M
Mona M13 days ago

So true and thank you for adding the recipe.