01/8Barley vs wheat: What’s better?

Cereals like barley and wheat have been an integral part of the human diet for thousands of years. These are two of the most easily domesticated crops of all times. Barley and wheat are nutritively similar crops cultivated majorly for drink, food and animal feed production. But did you know that there are some key differences between these similar-looking grains? Here are the main distinctions between barley and wheat and which one should you have-

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02/8​Barley vs wheat: History & health benefits

Both crops belong to the grass family that includes many others like rice, corn and sugarcane. The grains of wheat and barley are actually caryopsis or fruits of the grass. Each grain comprises of endosperm, outer bran and an inner germ. When wheat is consumed as whole grains, they are a rich source of important nutrients such as folate, copper, phosphorus, manganese, selenium, niacin, thiamine, calcium and vitamin B6. On the other hand, Barley is full of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. The consumption of whole grain barley can provide a burst of fibre and other nutrients like niacin, chromium, phosphorous, magnesium, copper, selenium, manganese and vitamin B1.

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03/8Availability

Wheat is the most extensively grown crop in the world and thus, is available everywhere. Since barley is the fourth most grown cereal, it may not be available at all places. However, there is no issue of availability in India as it is widely used here as food and fodder.

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04/8​Fibre

During processing, wheat loses its outer layer of bran which contains the most fibre. This doesn’t happen with barley. Therefore, it is considered to be a richer source of fibre with 10.7 grams in whole wheat flour and 17.3 grams in hulled barley. Bran-less wheat flour only has 2.4 grams of fibre while pearled barley contains 15.6 grams.

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05/8​Protein

Wheat and barley in whole grain and hulled form have almost comparable levels of protein. Whole wheat flour has 13.2 grams and wheat flour holds 12 grams. Hulled barley contains 12.5 grams and pearled Barley has 9.9 grams of protein.

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06/8​Preparation

Wheat is required to be processed and converted into flour before you can make something out of it. For example, you can make chapatis and other dishes using ground wheat flour. However, barley does not need any prepping. You can wash and just cook it like rice.

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07/8​Taste

Since barley is consumed as whole grains, they have a more pronounced depth of flavour when compared to wheat. However, wheat has more possibilities of acquiring different tastes such as sweet and savoury. You can also consume it in many different forms. Barley has limited options as far as its preparations are concerned.

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08/8​What’s the Verdict?

Your choice of grains should depend on your dietary aim. Wheat is ground without the outer bran layer that contains most of the fibre, while barley is consumed as a whole grain or in pearled form. Both grains contain a similar amount of gluten, thus making them unsuitable for people with gluten allergies or celiac disease. Black or brown rice, quinoa, amaranth, millet etc. are better options for people with gluten sensitivity.

You can control cholesterol and supply your body with fibre by having barley, which is rich in beta-glucan. If promoting health and general well-being is your aim, then you can choose either of them but make sure you eat whole grains. When the bran is removed from the grain during processing, it loses plenty of nutrients. Having whole grains can reduce chronic inflammation, aid digestion and lower the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart diseases and stroke.

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