Barley vs Brown Rice

Barley vs Brown Rice – Which Is Healthier?


It is a cereal grain, that is usually found in beverages, bread, and various cuisines of every culture.

Barley, originating in Ethiopia and Southeast Asia, is considered an ancient grain and has been cultivated for over 10,000 years. In the present day, there are about 145 million tons produced every year, and it is still included in the diet of many African, European, and Middle Eastern nations.

It can be added to salads, soups, curries, and stews for a rich flavor.

Nutrition Facts

100g of barley, pearled, cooked contains:

  • 123 calories;
  • 3.8g Fiber – 15% daily value;
  • 2.3g Protein – 5% DV;
  • 0.8mcg Vitamin K – 1% DV;
  • 0.1mg Thiamin – 6% DV;
  • 0.1mg Riboflavin – 4% DV;
  • 2.1mg Niacin – 10% DV;
  • 0.1mg Vitamin B6 – 6% DV;
  • 16mcg Folate – 4% DV;
  • 0.1mg Pantothenic Acid – 1% DV;
  • 13.4mg Choline;
  • 11mg Calcium – 1% DV;
  • 1.3mg Iron – 7% DV;
  • 22mg Magnesium – 5% DV;
  • 54mg Phosphorus – 5% DV;
  • 93mg Potassium – 3% DV;
  • 0.8mg Zinc – 5% DV;
  • 0.1mg Copper – 5% DV;
  • 0.3mg Manganese – 13% DV;
  • 8.6mcg Selenium – 12% DV.

Glycemic Index

Barley – 28 ± 2

Health Benefits

Dietary fiber

Being an excellent source of both insoluble and soluble fibers, barley is specifically recommended by nutritionists for its naturally zero cholesterol and low-fat content.

The beta-glucan fiber found in this grain lowers LDL cholesterol by binding to bile acids and removing them from the body by excretion. According to studies, a daily intake of 4g of beta-glucans fibers can lower LDL cholesterol levels by about 6%.

Moreover, adults who regularly consume high amounts of barley’s beta gluten fiber experience weight loss since their levels of hunger diminished, according to a 2008 study done by the Department of Food Science and Nutrition, University of Minnesota, USA.

In addition, barley’s dietary fiber is important for keeping a healthy balance of good bacteria in the digestive tract.

People who have a diet rich in dietary fiber are known to have a lower risk of developing gallstones compared to people who do not consume fiber. This is important since over 20 million people in the United States have gallstones (stones, typically made of cholesterol, which form in the gallbladder).

Researchers at Colorado State University have found that regularly eating whole grains such as barley can help prevent the risk of rectal and colon cancers.

According to research, females under the age of 50 usually require 25 grams of fiber a day, and females who are 51 years or older require 21 grams. Also, males who are 51 years or older require 30 grams of fiber per day, and males under the age of 50 require 38 grams per day.

100 grams of barley has 3.8 grams of dietary fiber which is about 15 percent of the daily recommended intake.


Selenium is a vital mineral for the body as it plays a key role in maintaining a healthy metabolism and takes part in the antioxidant activity which defends against free radical damage. Also, selenium’s antioxidant activity helps reduce the risk of cognitive decline as individuals get older.

Due to this mineral’s ability to lower the level of inflammation in the human body, some doctors suggest that this essential trace mineral may be effective in reducing asthma-related symptoms.

Studies have established that increased blood levels of this essential trace mineral are associated with enhanced immune response. Furthermore, individuals with lower blood levels of selenium have a substantially higher risk of heart disease.

A selenium deficiency can cause the following symptoms:

  • miscarriages;
  • mental retardation;
  • goiter (an abnormal enlargement of the thyroid gland);
  • mental slowing;
  • extreme fatigue;
  • hypothyroidism (a condition where the human body doesn’t make enough thyroid hormones).

100 grams of barley has 8.6mcg of selenium which is about 12% of the daily recommended intake.


Barley contains gluten. Hence, it is not an appropriate choice for people with celiac disease (an immune reaction to eating gluten) or other intolerances to wheat.

Brown Rice

Rice is a primary crop grown all over the world and a food staple. Also, brown rice is considered a whole grain and is less processed than white rice, which has had its bran, hull, and germ removed.

Nutrition Facts

100g of rice, brown, long-grain, cooked, contains:

  • 89 calories;
  • 1.8g Fiber – 7% daily value;
  • 2.6g Protein – 5% DV;
  • 0.6mcg Vitamin K – 1% DV;
  • 0.1mg Thiamin – 6% DV;
  • 0.0mg Riboflavin – 1% DV;
  • 1.5mg Niacin – 8% DV;
  • 0.1mg Vitamin B6 – 7% DV;
  • 4mcg Folate – 1% DV;
  • 0.3mg Pantothenic Acid – 3% DV;
  • 9.2mg Choline;
  • 0.5mg Betaine;
  • 10mg Calcium – 1% DV;
  • 0.4mg Iron – 2% DV;
  • 43mg Magnesium – 11% DV;
  • 83mg Phosphorus – 8% DV;
  • 43mg Potassium – 1% DV;
  • 0.6mg Zinc – 4% DV;
  • 0.1mg Copper – 5% DV;
  • 0.9mg Manganese – 45% DV;
  • 9.8mcg Selenium – 14% DV.

Glycemic Index

Brown rice, boiled – 68 ± 4

Health Benefits


This mineral is necessary for the transmission of electrical signals in the body and to maintain the health of muscles, including the heart.

Having a high intake of magnesium-rich foods can reduce CRP and other markers of inflammation in overweight people, older adults, and people with prediabetes. It also helps relax muscles within the digestive tract, including the muscles that control the ability to go to the bathroom.

Symptoms of magnesium deficiency include:

  • reduced ability to learn;
  • hyperexcitability;
  • poor memory;
  • irritability;
  • insomnia;
  • anxiety;
  • sound and light sensitivity;
  • confusion;
  • apathy;
  • loss of appetite;
  • fatigue;
  • muscular symptoms (tremors, cramps, spasms, fasciculations, weakness, and tetany).

100 grams of brown rice has 43 mg of magnesium, which is approximately 11 percent of the daily recommended intake.


It is an essential trace mineral that is required for many vital functions, including the production of digestive enzymes, the formation of blood-clotting factors, and bone development.

The human body also requires manganese when it comes to the synthesis of cholesterol. It even works as an antioxidant, protecting the cells against free radical damage.

The lack of manganese can lead to:

  • serious memory loss;
  • infertility;
  • bone malformation;
  • hypertension (high blood pressure);
  • joint pain.

The average dietary intake of manganese is estimated at 1.6 to 1.8 mg per day for women and 2.1 to 2.3 mg for men.

100 grams of brown rice has 0.9 mg of manganese which is about 45 percent of the daily recommended intake.

Bottom Line – Barley vs Brown Rice

Both grains are highly nutritious and healthy, but barley has a slightly better nutritional profile than brown rice due to a higher content of iron and dietary fiber. In addition, barley has a substantially lower glycemic index than brown rice.


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