Pearl Barley vs Brown Rice: Which Offers The Best Nutrition?

Pearl Barley vs Brown Rice: Which Offers The Best Nutrition?

While chalking out a meal plan or stocking the kitchen pantry, the most common dilemma is which grain to choose. They all come with a score of health benefits and nutritional qualities,so it is important to know the better of the lot. We know that barley is better than wheat and brown rice is better than white - but what about brown rice and barley? How does one decide the best out of the better grains? Let’s find out.

The comparison, needless to say, is a tough one as both these grains are similar in many ways and are favourite buys in the organic food products list. The nutritional value is high in both, and they are packed with health benefits.

The difference lies primarily in the way they are consumed or the reason they are added to a diet.

Clash Of The Titans

While pearl barley and brown rice have a lot in common in terms of their composition, there are some key differentiating factors.

Manganese

An essential nutrient to keep the nervous system healthy, manganese is also a potent antioxidant that helps the body protect itself from free radicals. Both barley and brown rice are great sources of manganese, but brown rice contains more quantities per 100 gms.

Dietary Fibre

Barley contains almost 900% more dietary fibre than brown rice - 15.6 gms in barley and 1.6 gms in brown rice per 100 gms! Pearl barley benefits include the fact that it takes longer to digest than other grains, making it the perfect choice for weight watchers. Meals with barley will always make you feel fuller for longer compared to brown rice meals.

Carbohydrates

Barley has 67% more carbohydrates than brown rice, which makes rice a better option for those on low-carb diet plans like keto. Total carbs in brown rice are 25.6 grams per 100 gm, while barley has 77.7 grams.

Sugar and Glycemic Index

Barley and brown rice contain similar amounts of sugar - 0.24 grams in brown rice and 0.8 grams in barley per 100 gms. But with pearl barley, insulin sensitivity can be improved up to 30%, and blood sugar levels can be kept under control. It is the grain of choice for diabetics as it lowers the body’s glycemic index and eases the insulin response.

Selenium

Selenium is known to reduce the risk of colon cancer. The dietary fibre present in selenium increases the level of protection. Brown rice has a high selenium content. So if you are at risk for this kind of cancer, including brown rice and other selenium-rich foods in your diet can help prevent it.

LDL cholesterol

Just like all other seeds, brown rice helps flush “bad” cholesterol from the body and replace it with “good” HDL cholesterol. This promotes good cardiovascular health.

Blood pressure

Like other grains, pearl barley helps control cholesterol levels and promotes cardiovascular health in general. It also helps control blood pressure and reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke. Besides these, brown rice has over five times more folate and vitamin E than organic pearl barley.

Additional pearl barley health benefits include twice the calcium and fibre than rice and about 30 percent fewer calories. Barley also has a better sodium level than rice, while in protein and fat content, the two are almost equivalent.

Barley is a seed that often goes unappreciated and passed on in favour of something we are more used to, like rice or oats. However, the benefits of pearl barley shouldn’t be discounted as it is highly nutritious and has a positive effect on general health as a whole. To round things up, pearl barley’s nutritional value is very high, but the same can be said about brown rice. So, there are other factors you will need to consider to decide which is the healthier food. For a gluten-free diet, brown rice is the clear winner because barley contains gluten. But, in terms of nutritional benefits, both grains are healthy choices and can be added to different meals.

Barley vs Brown Rice Uses

Uses of Barley

Barley is often eaten as the grain, and sometimes used to make medicines too. Commonly used for heart disease and cholesterol, pearl barley nutrition is ranked very high amongst food grains. Barley is commonly used as a natural sweetener, and as a fermenting ingredient in brewing beer and other alcoholic beverages.

Barley is nutritious, pretty affordable, and easy to cook. The chewy texture and nuttiness of the grain can be incorporated into a wide variety of dishes like porridge, salads, stuffings etc. It is a versatile grain to add texture to soups and stews and can even make a nourishing tea.

The most common variety found in stores is the Pearl barley which has the outermost bran layer removed. This is the easiest one to cook and can be bought online from a trusted organic brand like JIWA.

Try this simple Lemon barley water to start:
  • Boil barley with lemon zest and strain the liquid.
  • Mix it with fresh lemon juice and honey.
  • Enjoy it hot or chill in the refrigerator for a cool sweet and tart drink.
  • For a spice kick, add some freshly grated ginger to the boil.
Besides making great savoury dishes, barley is great for sweet recipes for breakfast too. Cook pearled barley with fresh fruits, honey, brown sugar, and heady cinnamon for a perfectly spiced oatmeal bowl. Unlike oats, barley retains its texture and creates thick, porridge-like consistency. Top this with a generous sprinkle of seeds for a healthy morning meal. Because it has a gluey texture on cooking, barley is ideal for risottos too.

Uses of Brown Rice

Brown rice, considered food for the poor, is now considered superior to its white counterpart which is more refined. Brown rice has just the outer husk removed, but the nutrient dense germ and bran are retained, making it a healthier option to include in everyday meals.

Brown rice and barley are both nutritious and rich in fibre. So their culinary uses are abundant.

Brown rice is a great replacement for white rice in any rice based recipe. So use it in biryani, pilaf, or just simple bisibele bhaat and enjoy its toothsome goodness. Brown rice is sometimes soaked and germinated to increase the nutrition density too. It is great to use in a pudding, quick stir fry and even in a risotto, while barley takes the cake in this one just because of its texture. For a Mexican rice bowl with avocados and salad, brown rice might be the worthier option though.

Pearl barley is easier to cook than brown rice and takes lesser time, while for biryanis and pilafs, the grainier texture of brown rice may work better than barley.

Conclusion

Considering all this, the question one needs to ask is - Is pearl barley good for you? Or is brown rice a healthier option? The answer is as simple as it is jumbled. Both brown rice and barley are nutritious and full of health benefits.

Pearl barley benefits healthy weight loss and controls blood sugar levels, while brown rice has high selenium content to prevent certain cancers and help in skin healing.

The high fibre in pearl barley definitely makes it a tad bit healthier to include in daily meals, but both grains should be consumed regularly for a wholesome meal plan

Leave a comment

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.


You may also like

Steel Cut Oats Bhajia
Moroccan Barley Soup