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Barley Glycemic Index (GI), Glycemic Load (GL), and Insulin Index (II)

Article author photo Victoria Mazmanyan by Victoria Mazmanyan | Last updated on May 01, 2022
Education: General Medicine at YSMU

Barley’s nutritional content consists of 28% carbohydrates, of which 24% is made up of dietary fiber, and 76% are net carbs.

Glycemic Index

The glycemic index of barley can significantly vary depending on the cultivar, processing, and cooking methods. However, the mean glycemic index of 20 boiled barley meals has been calculated to be 30 (1). This falls in the low glycemic index category.

Dietary fiber content can have a large effect on the glycemic index of barley (2). Whole-grain barley, boiled for 25 minutes, had a GI of 21±4, while pearled barley had a GI of 58±8. Due to a high dietary fiber, whole grain barley tends to have a lower glycemic index. In contrast, processed pearled barley loses its fibrous hull and has a relatively higher glycemic index.

Porridge made from barley has an average glycemic index of 44. Barley pasta also has a moderate glycemic index with an average GI value of 62.

The glycemic index of barley flour bread can fall anywhere in the range of 28 to 85.

For people trying to consume lower GI foods, barley can be recommended as a substitute grain for oats, as barley has a lower glycemic response (3).

Barley has been researched to have anti-diabetic properties potentially due to its high dietary fiber content. Adding barley to one’s diet can improve diabetic control and reduce blood glucose and insulin levels after a meal (4, 5).

On our page, you can find a complete glycemic index chart of over 350 foods.

Glycemic Load

The International Tables of Glycemic Load Values study presents the GL of barley to fall in the wide range of 9 to 26. The GL of boiled whole-grain barley was 9, while the GL of pearled barley was 26.

Based on these numbers, the average glycemic load of barley is 14. This makes the GL value of barley fall in the medium category.

Insulin Index

Similar to the glycemic index, the insulin index of barley can also have various values depending on the barley type and the consumer.

One study calculated the insulin index to be 46 for the healthy control group, 35 in hyperinsulinemic subjects, and 70 in people with type 2 diabetes mellitus (6).

Another research found the II of amylose-rich barley to be 70 (7).

One older study found barley to have an insulin index of 71 in healthy subjects but 105 in patients with non-insulin dependent diabetes (8).

We take the average insulin index of barley for healthy individuals to be 46. To find insulin index values of more foods, you can visit this page.


Article author photo Victoria Mazmanyan
Education: General Medicine at YSMU
Last updated: May 01, 2022
Data provided by should be considered and used as information only. Please consult your physician before beginning any diet.