Is Barley Good For Diabetics?

An ancient grain, Barley may not be as popular as other grains, but it has enormous health benefits. It is not considered as superfood without any reason. But it has been used for years by several communities to make porridge and breads to get vital nutrients.

Lund University in Sweden has conducted a study which mentions that barley contains a unique blend of dietary fibers to reduce blood sugar levels and appetite. Barley can improve your health rapidly by reducing risk of heart disease.

Anne Nilsson from Lund University added, “It is quite shocking and promising that right blend of dietary fiber can give great health benefits in a short time period.”


The researchers conducted study on healthy middle aged adults who were suggested to eat bread regularly which is made of barley kernels (i.e. around 85%) for 3 days – i.e. at lunch, breakfast and dinner. Around 11-14 hours after final meal, participants were tested for symptoms of diabetes and heart disease.

According to the researchers, metabolism of participants has been improved for around 14 hours, with some added benefits like reduced insulin levels and blood sugar, improved appetite control, and increased insulin response. The effects take place when special blend of dietary fibers reaches the gut, release major hormones and improve good bacteria, according to the researchers.

Anne Nilsson said, “After having bread made of barley kernel, we witnessed spike in gut hormones which control appetite and metabolism, and also improve hormone which is helpful to lower low-grade and chronic inflammation among the users. It could help avoid the risks of both diabetes and heart disease.” The aim is to convince more people to add barley in meals, like in the form of salads, stews, soups, or an alternative to potato or rice.

Here’s how barley can be helpful to fight against diabetes –

Rich in soluble fiber

Soluble fiber can form a gel when it blends with liquids in a gut. This gel slows down the appetite and feeling of emptiness in stomach. So, it slows down the absorption of carbohydrates in the body which raises blood glucose. You can get 14g fiber (11g insoluble and 3g soluble) in 1 cup of cooked whole grain barley. It has 6g total fiber (4g insoluble and 2g soluble) in 1 cup of cooked pearl barley.

Low GI Index

Diabetic people may feel changes in blood glucose level after having foods rich in carbohydrates. The impact on blood glucose varies according to the type and amount of carbohydrates. Glycemic Index or GI is a measurement which ranks foods as per their ability to raise blood glucose levels. Lower GI means low impact on blood glucose levels. Barley contains GI of 51, rather than 55 on brown rice, 58 on oatmeal, and 45 on pasta.

Contains Magnesium

This mineral is a co-factor in around 300 enzymes in our body, along with the ones used in secretion and production of insulin and using glucose. According to the studies, magnesium levels are lower in diabetic people as compared to overall population. Men are recommended to have 420mg and women should take 320mg of magnesium per day according to the Recommended Dietary Allowance. You can get 122mg of magnesium in 1 cup cooked whole grain barley and 34mg in a cup of pearled barley.

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