Barley grains in a wooden bowl with stethoscope on a wooden table

Is Barley Good for Diabetes?

 

Barley offers a range of advantages that can support blood sugar control in diabetic individuals. It is rich in dietary fiber, which aids in slowing down the absorption of sugar and can contribute to more stable blood glucose levels over time. Additionally, barley has a low glycemic index, meaning it has a minimal impact on blood sugar compared to other carbohydrate sources. Diabetes is a chronic condition that affects how your body metabolizes sugar (glucose) and requires careful management, including attention to diet. Making mindful dietary choices plays a crucial role in managing blood sugar levels for individuals with diabetes.

Incorporating barley into your meals can be a simple and effective way to enhance your diabetic diet. From adding cooked barley to soups and salads to using it as a substitute for refined grains in dishes like stir-fries.

Nutritional Component of Barley

The nutritional value of 100grams of Barley:

Nutrient

Amount (per 100g)

Calories

354 kcal

Carbohydrates

73.5 grams

- Dietary Fiber

17.3 grams

Protein

12.5 grams

Fat

2.3 grams

Health Benefits of Barley

  1. Rich in Fiber: Barley is high in dietary fiber, particularly soluble fiber known as beta-glucan. This type of fiber helps improve digestive health by promoting regular bowel movements, preventing constipation, and supporting the growth of beneficial gut bacteria. It also helps lower cholesterol levels and may reduce the risk of heart disease.

  2. Supports Weight Management: The high fiber content in barley contributes to a feeling of fullness and satiety, which can help reduce appetite and calorie intake. Including barley in meals may support weight management efforts by promoting portion control and reducing overall food consumption.

  3. Regulates Blood Sugar Levels: Barley has a low glycemic index (GI) and contains soluble fiber, which slows down the absorption of glucose into the bloodstream. This can help stabilize blood sugar levels and prevent rapid spikes and crashes, making barley a suitable grain choice for individuals with diabetes or those aiming to manage blood sugar levels.

  4. Heart Health: The soluble fiber in barley, particularly beta-glucan, has been shown to reduce levels of LDL cholesterol, also known as "bad" cholesterol. Lowering LDL cholesterol levels can help reduce the risk of heart disease and improve cardiovascular health. Barley also contains antioxidants and phytonutrients that support heart health by reducing inflammation and oxidative stress.

  5. Provides Essential Nutrients: Barley is a good source of essential nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. It contains vitamins B1, B3, and B6, as well as minerals like magnesium, phosphorus, and iron. These nutrients play important roles in energy metabolism, bone health, and immune function.

  6. May Reduce Cancer Risk: Barley contains various phytonutrients and antioxidants, including lignans and phenolic compounds, which have been associated with a reduced risk of certain cancers, such as colon cancer. These compounds help neutralize harmful free radicals and protect cells from damage that can lead to cancer development.

  7. Promotes Longevity and Healthy Aging: The combination of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants in barley supports overall health and well-being, promoting longevity and healthy aging. Regular consumption of barley as part of a balanced diet may help prevent chronic diseases and maintain optimal health as you age.

Ways to Incorporate Barley into a Diabetic Diet

  1. Barley Vegetable Soup: Make a hearty vegetable soup with barley as the main ingredient. Combine cooked barley with a variety of vegetables such as carrots, celery, onions, and spinach in a low-sodium broth. Add herbs and spices for flavor and enjoy a nutritious and filling meal.

  2. Barley Salad: Prepare a nutritious salad with cooked barley as the base. Mix cooked barley with chopped fresh vegetables like cucumbers, tomatoes, bell peppers, and parsley. Drizzle with a light vinaigrette made with olive oil, lemon juice, and herbs for added flavor.

  3. Barley Risotto: Use barley instead of rice to make a delicious and creamy risotto. Cook barley with low-sodium vegetable broth, onions, garlic, and mushrooms until tender. Stir in a small amount of grated Parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast for extra flavor.

  4. Barley Stir-Fry: Create a flavorful stir-fry dish with cooked barley, lean protein (such as chicken, tofu, or shrimp), and a variety of colorful vegetables. Add low-sodium soy sauce, garlic, and ginger for a delicious Asian-inspired flavor.

  5. Barley Breakfast Bowl: Start your day with a nutritious breakfast bowl featuring cooked barley. Top cooked barley with Greek yogurt, fresh berries, sliced almonds, and a drizzle of honey or sugar-free syrup for a satisfying and balanced meal..

  6. Barley Pilaf: Make a flavorful barley pilaf by sautéing cooked barley with onions, garlic, and your favorite herbs and spices. Serve as a side dish alongside grilled chicken, fish, or tofu for a complete and balanced meal.

Glycemic Index and Barley

  • The glycemic index (GI) of barley ranges from approximately 22 to 66, depending on factors such as the type of barley, processing method, and cooking time.

  • Whole barley kernels, such as hulled barley or barley groats, generally have a lower GI compared to processed barley products like pearl barley or barley flour.

  • The presence of intact kernels and higher fiber content in whole barley slows down the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates, resulting in a more gradual increase in blood sugar levels.

  • The specific GI of barley can be influenced by cooking time and consumption with other foods. Longer cooking times and consumption as part of a mixed meal with protein and healthy fats can further reduce its glycemic response.

Bottomline

Incorporating barley into a diabetic diet offers numerous benefits for managing blood sugar levels. Its high fiber content regulates glucose levels, while its low glycemic index prevents rapid spikes after meals. However, consulting healthcare providers before dietary changes is crucial for personalized advice. By including barley in meals and seeking professional guidance, individuals can improve blood sugar management and overall well-being.

 

Back to blog