Barley vs Rice - Health impact and Nutrition Comparison
Barley is a type of grain that is cultivated in Eurasia as early as 10 000 years ago. It has become part of the food cycle of humans since they have settled and became an agricultural civilization.
In this text, we are taking into consideration hulled barley. Hulled barley is whole grain food. It undergoes a process of removal of its inedible cover, without the removal of the bran. There are different types of barley, like the pearly which is less nutritious because it has lost its bran. Thus, it is better to consume hulled barley. The downside of hulled barley is that it takes more time to get cooked.
On the other hand, rice is another type of grain that has different sizes, shapes, and colors. In this article, we are taking into consideration long, white, regular, enriched rice. Rice takes a much shorter duration to cook and it has different types of processes. It is important to note that, in the case of enriched rice, draining the rice and throwing away the boiled water is not recommended. With the drained water, a lot of the enriched elements are washed away.
Rice was harvested nearly 9000 years ago in China. Nowadays, rice is the 3rd highest agricultural product harvested, after sugarcane and maize. This data shows how much the world depends on rice. Nowadays it is distributed among the culinary cultures around the world, from Asian cuisine, Arab cuisine, Eurasian, Mexican, etc…
Nutritional data comparison
In this part of the article, we are going to compare the nutritional data of barley and rice, based on 100g of each. The barley taken into consideration is the hulled barley and the rice taken into consideration is long, white, enriched rice.
Barley has a lower glycemic index compared to rice. Barley is classified as low glycemic food, with a glycemic index of 28. Whereas, rice is classified as a medium glycemic index food, with a glycemic index of 60.
Barley has almost 3 times more calories compared to rice. Barley has 354 calories whereas rice has 130 calories. This difference is significant.
Barley has higher carbohydrates than rice. However, this difference has a silver lining to it. Barley has 73g of carbohydrates which is 24% of the daily value. However, 17.3g of these are fibers that satisfy 68% of the daily value. This is a very important aspect of hulled barley. On the other hand, rice has far fewer carbohydrates compared to barley, however, it has nearly no fibers.
They have nearly negligible fat content, however, barley has 2g of fat. This can also be considered negligible.
Barely is richer in protein compared to rice. Barley has 12.48g of protein. Whereas rice has 2.69g of protein. Although barley is rich in protein it is not rich in essential amino acids.
Barely has an overall better mineral profile. It is richer in all types of minerals compared to rice. Barley is richer in magnesium, potassium, iron, copper, phosphorus, selenium, magnesium, and zinc.
It is important to note that both barley and rice are low in sodium.
Barley has a higher vitamin score compared to rice. Barley is richer in vitamins B1, B2, B3, and B6, whereas, rice is richer in folate.
Weight loss and diets
Even though barley is higher in calories compared to rice, due to its high fiber content, it promotes a feeling of fullness. This means that you can eat less, and feel fuller, thus can contribute to weight loss.
Rice, if associated with a healthy meal promotes weight loss if on a calorie deficit or promotes a balanced healthy meal. This works by feeling fuller while eating rice compared to eating the actual meal. In Asian cuisines, rice is highly consumed but associated with healthy meals, it promotes good health.
Vegans can consume rice and barley without any restriction.
Rice milk is available as an alternative to dairy milk for vegans. Rice milk among other non-dairy milk is sweeter and usually is found fortified with vitamins and minerals.
Alternative milk for vegans is barley milk which has many benefits as it reduces bloating, ingestion, and gas.
Due to their high carbohydrate content, both barley and rice are disqualified from the keto list. Cauliflower rice can take over as an alternative to rice or barley in cooking keto foods.
As long as the carbohydrate content is low to negligible it can be consumed in keto diets.
The rice diet
The rice diet is a calorie deficit diet to lose weight. At first, the daily calories are 800 (which is also called the detox period).
Then the calorie count becomes 1000 per day until desired weight is reached. Grains, fruits, and vegetables can be consumed in this diet.
However, experts say that this diet is not as recommended, it focuses on high carbohydrate intake with a medium glycemic index. In addition to that, protein fat, and other vitamins are not being consumed and might end up putting the person into a malnutrition state if this is done over a long period (weeks). Therefore, the rice diet is not a long-term diet.
It is important to note that the minimal calorie intake in normal balanced diets is 1600.
For people who are active during their daily life, work, study, workout and they want to lose weight, this diet is not as recommended in the long term. This diet has shown to be effective in hypertensive patients because it is also considered a low-fat low-sodium diet. However, now there are medications to treat hypertension.
Some people have tried the barley diet that focuses mostly on barley porridges and they claim to have lost up to 4 kg in 7 days.
However, again as mentioned in the rice diet these diets are highly restrictive and may lead to malnutrition states.
Barely is recommended for babies because it is high in fibers, minerals, and vitamins. It is very versatile and can be made into soup or a blended consistent food mixed with other nutritive foods like fruits.
Rice, on the other hand, is considered to be filling for babies. It will make the baby feel full faster however, this might lead to the baby not eating the full meal which leads to missing out on the complete nutrients. It is safe to give your baby rice, however, keep it in moderate to low serving sizes.
Consumption of barley on a moderate and regular basis in men and women who have mild hypercholesterolemia has been shown to reduce LDL levels. Thus, decreasing risks of cardiovascular diseases. (1)
It is important to note that consumption of white rice in moderate amounts does not correlate with developing cardiovascular diseases. (2)
Long-term consumption of barley has led to decreased blood glucose levels. This is mostly explained by reduced absorption of glucose due to the high fiber content of barley. (3)
Barley consumption has a positive effect on gut microflora, which, in turn, has many positive aspects on overall health. (4)
Rice consumption has shown no association with the development of cancer. (5)
On the other hand, barley grass has beneficial effects on cancer cell reduction since it has apoptotic effects on cancer cells. Even though this is not the hulled barley grain itself, it's important to mention this. (6)
This paper indicates that there was no association with cardiovascular disease development with the consumption of rice. However, It also indicates that there is a risk of developing metabolic syndrome. Which in turn, if uncontrolled, may lead to cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, hypertension. One of the risk factors of metabolic syndrome is obesity. (7)
Based on research on high consumption of white rice, a positive correlation is observed with the development of type 2 diabetes. (8)
Gluten intolerance and celiac disease
Barley contains gluten which is the direct cause of inflammatory responses in celiac disease and gluten intolerance. Thus, barley should not be consumed for people who have celiac disease or gluten intolerance. (9)
Rice on the other hand can be consumed because it does not contain any gluten.
Barley is richer in fibers, proteins, B complex vitamins, magnesium, potassium, iron. It has a lower glycemic index, is higher in carbohydrates, and is almost 3 times higher in calories. Compared to barley, rice is richer in folate. Overall, barley has a better nutritive profile compared to rice.
Vitamin and Mineral Summary Scores
Comparison summary table
|Lower in Sugar|
|Lower in Sodium|
|Lower in Saturated Fat|
|Lower in price|
|Lower in glycemic index|
|Rich in minerals|
|Rich in vitamins|
|Lower in Cholesterol||Equal|
Which food is preferable for your diet?
|Low Calories diet|
|Low Fats diet|
|Low Carbs diet|
|Low glycemic index diet|
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All nutrients comparison - raw data values