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Barley vs Black Beans: Difference & Similarities

This article explains the key similarities and differences between barley and black beans, foods from the grains and legumes food groups. Read on to learn more about the barley vs black beans comparison.
Dennis Gillett, Health & Fitness Writer

Written by Dennis Gillett, Health & Fitness Writer. Updated on February 23, 2023.

Although barley and black beans belong to different food groups, while barley belong is a grain, and black beans belong to legumes food group, and it’s not that common to compare foods from different groups, people are often interested in these comparisons as well.

That’s why we decided to create an in-depth article that compares barley and black beans, their nutritional values, similarities, differences, macronutrients, and micronutrients – vitamins and minerals.

Generally speaking, foods from grains and legume food groups are both high in carbs and protein and valuable addition to a plant-based diet.

Now, let’s see how barley and black beans compare specifically.


Barley (Hordeum vulgare) is a cereal grain widely grown in many parts of the world and has been a staple food for thousands of years. It is closely related to wheat and oats.

Barley is a good source of carbohydrates, dietary fibers, and small amounts of vitamins and minerals like magnesium, phosphorus, and B vitamins. It is also rich in antioxidants and protein, making it a valuable food for vegetarians and vegans.

Barley is commonly used in brewing beer, animal feed, and as a food grain. It can be used in soups, stews, and as a side dish, either whole or ground into flour. It is also gluten-free and easy to digest, making it a great option for people with gluten sensitivities or celiac disease.

Barley is considered a functional food, as it has been shown to positively impact health when consumed regularly as part of a balanced diet. It is also a sustainable crop, as it can be grown in poor soil conditions and is resistant to pests and diseases.

Barley is an excellent source of Vitamin B1 (Thiamine), and Vitamin B3 (Niacin).

It also contains a good amount of Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), and Vitamin B6 (Pyroxidine) and some Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid), Vitamin B9 (Folate), and Vitamin E.

Black Beans

Black beans (Phaseolus vulgaris) are a type of legume that are native to Central and South America.

They are a popular ingredient in many vegan and vegetarian dishes due to their high protein and fiber content and rich, nutty flavor.

Black beans are also a good source of antioxidants. They have been shown to have a number of potential health benefits, including reducing the risk of certain types of cancer and helping to lower cholesterol levels.

They are easy to incorporate into a wide range of recipes and can be enjoyed in dishes such as black bean soup, burritos, and salads.

Black Beans are an excellent source of Vitamin B1 (Thiamine), and Vitamin B9 (Folate).

They also contain a good amount of Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), Vitamin B3 (Niacin), Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid), and Vitamin B6 (Pyroxidine) and some Vitamin K.

Barley vs Black Beans Nutrition

Now that we’ve described the origin, taste, and usage of these foods, we can move to the most interesting part – comparing barley vs black beans.

This comparison will start by comparing the caloric value of barley and black beans and their macronutrients and then go more in-depth by analyzing their vitamin and mineral content.

BarleyBlack Beans
Energy354 kcal341 kcal
Carbs73.5 g62.4 g
Sugar0.8 g2.12 g
Fiber17.3 g15.5 g
Protein12.5 g21.6 g
Fat2.3 g1.42 g
Saturated Fat0.482 g0.366 g

Barley vs Black Beans Calories

Most calories in raw grains and legumes come from carbs. Peanuts are an exception here, but they are often considered a nut instead of a legume because of their nutritional profile.

Comparing black beans vs barley for weight loss, black beans are slightly lower in calories, with 341 calories per 100 grams, compared to 354 calories per 100 grams of barley.

However, both barley and black beans can and should be a part of a healthy diet, and neither one shouldn’t be avoided if you’re looking to lose weight.

Barley vs Black Beans Protein

Legumes and most legume products, including barley and black beans, are important sources of plant-based protein.

Black Beans offer around 42% more protein than barley.

Black Beans have 21.6 grams of protein per 100 grams, while barley has 12.5 grams of protein per 100 grams.

Barley vs Black Beans Carbs

Counting carbs can be important for some people for different reasons, including blood sugar control, weight management, or athletic performance.

It’s also important for people on a keto diet, so let’s compare the carbs content in barley and black beans.

The total amount of carbohydrates is around 15% higher in barley than in black beans. It have 73.5 grams per 100 grams, compared to 62.4 grams in black beans.

There’s less sugar in barley than in black beans, 67% precisely.

One handful of barley (28 grams) contains 0.2 grams of sugar, while the same amount of black beans contains 0.6 grams.

Lastly, let’s take a look at the dietary fiber in barley and black beans.

Dietary fiber keeps the digestive system healthy and helps with weight management by promoting a sense of fullness.

With 4.8 grams of fiber per portion, barley is a better source of fiber than black beans which barley offers 4.3 grams per portion.

Barley vs Black Beans Fats

Like most other grains and legumes, with the exception of lupins and peanuts, barley and black beans are low in fat.

Fats in barley and black beans are mostly healthy unsaturated fats. They are naturally cholesterol-free and trans-fat-free.

Total fat in barley and black beans:

  • Barley: 2.3 grams per 100 grams
  • Black Beans: 1.4 per 100 grams

Speaking of saturated fats, black beans are 20% lower in saturated fats.

Black Beans and barley contain 0.4 grams and 0.5 grams of saturated fat per 100 grams, respectively.

Barley vs Black Beans Vitamins Content

This section will discuss the vitamin content of barley and black beans.

Vitamins are micronutrients, meaning we need only a small amount. However, they are very important for many processes in our bodies.

Barley has a higher amount of vitamin B1 (Thiamine), vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid), vitamin B9 (Folate), and vitamin K.

However, black beans have a higher amount of vitamin A, vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), vitamin B3 (Niacin), vitamin B6 (Pyroxidine), and vitamin E.

Barley and black beans contain the same amount of vitamin C, vitamin D, and vitamin B12 (Cobalamin).

The following table shows the exact amount of vitamins barley and black beans contain side by side, so you can easily compare them.

BarleyBlack Beans
Vitamin A22 IU17 IU
Vitamin C00
Vitamin D00
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)0.646 mg0.9 mg
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)0.285 mg0.193 mg
Vitamin B3 (Niacin)4.6 mg1.96 mg
Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid)0.282 mg0.899 mg
Vitamin B6 (Pyroxidine)0.318 mg0.286 mg
Vitamin B9 (Folate)19 µg444 µg
Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)00
Vitamin E0.57 mg0.21 mg
Vitamin K2.2 µg5.6 µg

Barley vs Black Beans Minerals Content

Minerals are important for our body to function properly. We need only a small amount of minerals, so they are called micronutrients.

Some minerals, like iron, calcium, zinc or, iodine, are relatively hard to get on a plant-based diet, so it’s important to choose your foods thoughtfully. This part of the barley and black beans comparison focuses on their mineral content.

Barley is a better source of calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc than black beans.

On the other hand, black beans are a higher amount of manganese, selenium, and sodium.

Barley and black beans contain the same amount of fluoride.

Check out the table below to learn how barley and black beans compare when it comes to mineral content.

BarleyBlack Beans
Calcium33 mg123 mg
Copper0.498 mg0.841 mg
Iron3.6 mg5.02 mg
Magnesium133 mg171 mg
Manganese1.94 mg1.06 mg
Phosphorus264 mg352 mg
Potassium452 mg1480 mg
Selenium37.7 µg3.2 µg
Sodium12 mg5 mg
Zinc2.77 mg3.65 mg

The Final Word

Barley and black beans are highly nutritious and a great addition to a plant-based diet.

Both barley and black beans are high in specific vitamins and minerals, and including them in your diet will give you the most benefits they offer.

Antioxidants found in grains and legumes can help to protect cells from damage and may reduce the risk of certain diseases and the effects of aging.

Additionally, the fiber and other nutrients in these foods can support the health of the digestive system and may even help to prevent certain digestive cancers.

Legumes and grains are a versatile food that can be incorporated into any meal of the day, including breakfast, lunch, or dinner. They can be served hot or cold, making them a convenient and tasty addition to a variety of dishes.


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