Buckwheat vs. Barley — Health Impact and Nutrition Comparison
Buckwheat does not contain gluten, provides more magnesium, and is low in calories.
Barley has a higher glycemic and insulin index and more selenium, vitamin B3, and dietary fiber.
Barley also contains gluten, and people with celiac disease should avoid it, whereas buckwheat can be part of a gluten-free diet.
Table of contents
- Taste and Use
- Macronutrients and Calories
- Glycemic Index
- Glycemic Load
- Insulin Index
- Weight Loss & Diets
- Health Benefits
- Downsides and Risks
- Gluten-related disorders
This article will provide information about the similarities and differences between buckwheat and barley. We will discuss their nutrition and effects on health.
Buckwheat is a pseudocereal․ It belongs (Fagopyrum esculentum) to the Fagopyrum genus and Polygonaceae family. There are some varieties of buckwheat: Common buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum), Tartary buckwheat (Fagopyrum tataricum), and perennial buckwheat (Fagopyrum cymosum).
Barley (Hordeum vulgare) belongs to the Hordeum genus and Poaceae family. Barley classifies into two types based on the number of blooms on its blossom spike: Six-row barley and Two-row barley.
Barley is a round and small grain. The color of it might range from pale tan to dark reddish-brown. Unlike barley, buckwheat seeds are triangular and have a gray or dark brown rind.
Taste and Use
Pearl barley has a mild and nutty flavor. On the other hand, buckwheat tastes nutty and a bit bitter, like whole-wheat flour or rye. Buckwheat is used for making noodles, crepes, and granola. Barley is added to soups or salads and is also used in beer production.
Macronutrients and Calories
Barley contains higher carbohydrates, while buckwheat contains more protein. A 100g of buckwheat and barley contains less than 1g of fats.
Barley is higher in calories. Buckwheat has 92 calories per 100 grams, compared to barley, which has 123.
Buckwheat contains 3.38g of protein, whereas barley contains 2.26g. Buckwheat is higher in all essential amino acids, particularly rich in tryptophan, valine, lysine, and threonine.
Gluten is a complex combination of hundreds of related but unique proteins, the most prominent of which are gliadin and glutenin.
Barley contains gluten, whereas buckwheat is gluten-free(1).
Buckwheat and barley are low in fats. Buckwheat contains more monounsaturated fats, whereas barley contains more polyunsaturated and less saturated fats.
Fat Type Comparison
Barley has over 1.5 times more carbs. 100g of buckwheat contains 19.9g of carbohydrates, of which 2.7g are dietary fiber and 17.2g are net carbs.
100g of barley contains 28.2g of carbohydrates, of which 3.8g are dietary fiber and 24.4g are net carbs.
Buckwheat and barley are cholesterol-free.
Barley contains two times more vitamin B3. Buckwheat, on the other hand, provides 2.5 times more vitamin B5.
Buckwheat and barley are absent in vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin C, and vitamin B12.
Buckwheat provides two times more magnesium and manganese. Buckwheat also contains more phosphorus and copper.
100g of buckwheat contains 70mg of phosphorus, whereas barley contains 54mg. Barley, on the other hand, provides four times more selenium.
The glycemic load of buckwheat is equal to 13. The GL of barley is equal to 9.
Buckwheat classifies as medium-GL food, whereas barley classifies as low-GL food.
The insulin index of barley is 46, whereas the insulin index of buckwheat is 53 (2).
Buckwheat has a pH level of 6,5. Barley has a pH level of 5-5.3.
An alternative method of measuring acidity is the potential renal acid load or the PRAL. The PRAL values for buckwheat and barley are 1 and 0.4, respectively. That means both foods are acidic, but buckwheat is more acid-forming.
Weight Loss & Diets
Both buckwheat and barley are allowed during the DASH diet.
Barley is a grain, while buckwheat classifies as a pseudocereal grain. So Buckwheat is Paleo-friendly, whereas barley is not allowed in the Paleo diet.
Due to their high carb content, barley and buckwheat are not keto-friendly.
Buckwheat is also friendly for gluten-free, compared to barley.
Barley and buckwheat are vegan.
Barley also contains insoluble and soluble fiber. Soluble fiber absorbs and reduces cholesterol formation in the liver and cleans blood arteries. Insoluble fiber increases digestive movement and relieves constipation, cleans colonic pathogenic bacteria and lowers the risk of colon cancer (3).
Another study found that young barley extracts suppress colon cancer cell growth, though they have no adverse effects on colon epithelium cells(4).
Based on the findings, buckwheat hull has anticancer capabilities against various cancer cells(5). The study shows that buckwheat has anti-inflammatory effects. So buckwheat can be used to treat inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs) (6) (7).
Buckwheat also has neuroprotective and anti-diabetic actions(8).
Downsides and Risks
Barley contains gluten and can cause some gluten-related diseases (9).
Wheat allergy is an IgE-mediated reaction to the insoluble gliadins of wheat. Celiac disease is a multisystem immunological condition caused by gluten consumption in genetically sensitive people.
Gluten proteins also can cause symptoms in persons who do not have coeliac disease, a condition known as non-coeliac gluten sensitivity.
In contrast, buckwheat is devoid of gluten, so it can be an essential part of a person's diet if they have gluten-related disorders, such as celiac disease, non-celiac gluten sensitivity, and wheat allergies (1).
Comparison summary table
|Lower in Sugar|
|Lower in Sodium|
|Lower in Saturated Fat|
|Lower in Glycemic Index|
|Lower in price|
|Lower in Cholesterol||Equal|
|Rich in minerals||Equal|
|Rich in vitamins||Equal|
All nutrients comparison - raw data values
Which food is preferable for your diet?
|Low Fats diet|
|Low Carbs diet|
|Low Calories diet|
|Low Glycemic Index diet|
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Vitamins & Minerals Daily Need Coverage Score
The source of all the nutrient values on the page (excluding the main article the sources for which are presented separately if present) is the USDA's FoodCentral. The exact links to the foods presented on this page can be found below.
- Buckwheat - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170686/nutrients
- Barley - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170285/nutrients
All the Daily Values are presented for males aged 31-50, for 2000-calorie diets.