Barley can be a tasty and healthy addition to your diet, thanks to its favorable nutritional profile comprising of an array of nutrients such as carbohydrates, soluble and insoluble fibers, sodium, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fatty acids, besides being cholesterol-free.
Fiber: It is an excellent source of fibers and contains both soluble and insoluble ones. One cup of cooked barley provides around 13.6 grams of dietary fiber, out of which 10.8 grams is insoluble or roughage, and the rest is soluble.
Cholesterol and Fat: Like other plant foods, barley is cholesterol-free and low in fats. One cup or 200 grams of cooked barley provides around 270 calories, 59.4 grams carbohydrates, 2.2 gram fat and 0 mg cholesterol.Vitamins: Barley is a great source of several vitamins, particularly vitamin B1 (thiamin) and vitamin B3 (niacin). One cup of cooked barley provides around 0.16 mg of thiamin, which is 10.6 percent of the recommended daily value (DV) and 2.84 mg of niacin, which is 14.2 percent of the DV. B vitamins are needed for a healthy nervous system, proper liver function, and for maintaining healthy skin, hair and eyes. The other vitamins in barley are choline, pantothenic acid, riboflavin and vitamins A, K, B6 and B12.
Minerals: Barley contains minerals like selenium, iron, magnesium, zinc, phosphorus and copper. One cup of cooked barley provides 230 mg of phosphorus, which is equivalent to 23 percent of the DV. This mineral is vital as it is a component of the genetic material of all cells, RNA and DNA. One cup of cooked barley contains around 36.4 mcg of selenium, which is 52 percent of the DV and 0.64 mcg of copper, which is 32 percent of the DV. Selenium, along with vitamin E, protects the cell membranes from deterioration and aids the normal thyroid function. Copper and iron play an important role in bone and cartilage development.
Antioxidants: Barley also contains antioxidants that play an important role in maintaining good health by slowing down the rate of oxidative damage by the free radicals that are formed when the body cells use oxygen.
Phytochemicals: Phytochemicals are natural plant-based chemicals that decrease the risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Being a plant source, barley is said to contain these phytochemicals.
Low Glycemic Index: The glycemic index measures the extent to which 100 grams of food will raise the blood sugar in comparison to the rise in the blood glucose on ingestion of pure sugar. The glycemic index of boiled pearled barley is 35, which is the lowest among all the common cereal grains. Thus, it is considered an appropriate carbohydrate choice for diabetics or dieters who are recommended a low glycemic meal plan.