By Rebecca Brown
January 11, 2010

This chewy carb has become increasingly popular because of its numerous nutritional properties. For starters, it's loaded in vitamins and can help regulate bowel functions. Reap barley health benefits by incorporating this healthy food into your diet.

What Is It?

This antioxidant-rich grain is most commonly used in soups because its texture is great for absorbing flavors. Don't limit this healthy food to broth though; it's just as nutritionally valuable in stir-fry or pilaf. It's also cholesterol-free and has less than 1 gram of fat per serving.

Barley Health Benefits


One cup of barley has around 6 grams of fiber, which supports good health and some claims suggest it can even help prevent colon cancer. Barley is especially effective for people with type 2 diabetes, as it contains beta-glucan soluble fiber, which is great for managing blood sugar. Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice journal found that type 2 diabetics who consumed 18 grams worth of pearl barley reported a 30 percent decrease in blood glucose levels.

Lowers Cholesterol

The soluble fiber found in this healthy food dissolves and binds with fatty acids in the body. This can lower total cholesterol levels and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, which is typically referred to as the "bad" kind. It also reduces the risk of coronary heart disease.


You'll most likely spot two types of barley in your local grocery store: hulled and pearled. Barley health benefits are present in both forms, but pearled barley has, in essence, been "peeled" of multiple layers, and has fewer nutrients than the hulled version.