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Barley vs Broad (Fava) Beans: Which Is Better?

This article explains the key similarities and differences between barley and broad (fava) beans, foods from the grains and legumes food groups. Read on to learn more about the barley vs broad (fava) beans comparison.
Michael Whaley, Health Writer

Written by Michael Whaley, Health Writer. Updated on February 24, 2023.

Although barley and broad (fava) beans belong to different food groups, while barley belong is a grain, and broad (fava) 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 broad (fava) 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 broad (fava) 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.

Broad (Fava) Beans

Broad beans, also known as fava beans or faba beans (Vicia faba), are a type of legume native to North Africa and the Middle East.

They are a popular ingredient in many vegan and vegetarian dishes due to their high protein and fiber content, as well as their mild, slightly sweet flavor.

Broad beans are also a good source of several important nutrients, including potassium, iron, and B vitamins.

They can be enjoyed in a variety of dishes, such as broad bean soup, dips such as Bigilla, and salads.

In addition to being a nutritious food, broad beans have been shown to have a number of potential health benefits.

They have been linked to lower cholesterol levels and improved blood sugar control, and may also help to reduce the risk of certain types of cancer.

Broad (Fava) Beans are an excellent source of Vitamin B1 (Thiamine), Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), and Vitamin B9 (Folate).

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

Barley vs Broad (Fava) 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 broad (fava) beans.

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

BarleyBroad (Fava) Beans
Energy354 kcal341 kcal
Carbs73.5 g58.3 g
Sugar0.8 g5.7 g
Fiber17.3 g25 g
Protein12.5 g26.1 g
Fat2.3 g1.53 g
Saturated Fat0.482 g0.254 g

Barley vs Broad (Fava) 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 broad (fava) beans vs barley for weight loss, broad (fava) 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 broad (fava) 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 Broad (Fava) Beans Protein

Legumes and most legume products, including barley and broad (fava) beans, are important sources of plant-based protein.

Broad (Fava) Beans offer around 52% more protein than barley.

Broad (Fava) Beans have 26.1 grams of protein per 100 grams, while barley has 12.5 grams of protein per 100 grams.

Barley vs Broad (Fava) 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 broad (fava) beans.

The total amount of carbohydrates is around 21% higher in barley than in broad (fava) beans. It have 73.5 grams per 100 grams, compared to 58.3 grams in broad (fava) beans.

There’s less sugar in barley than in broad (fava) beans, 88% precisely.

One handful of barley (28 grams) contains 0.2 grams of sugar, while the same amount of broad (fava) beans contains 1.6 grams.

Lastly, let’s take a look at the dietary fiber in barley and broad (fava) beans.

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

With 7 grams of fiber per portion, broad (fava) beans are a better source of fiber than barley which offer 4.8 grams per portion.

Barley vs Broad (Fava) Beans Fats

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

Fats in barley and broad (fava) beans are mostly healthy unsaturated fats. They are naturally cholesterol-free and trans-fat-free.

Total fat in barley and broad (fava) beans:

  • Barley: 2.3 grams per 100 grams
  • Broad (Fava) Beans: 1.5 per 100 grams

Speaking of saturated fats, broad (fava) beans are 40% lower in saturated fats.

Broad (Fava) Beans and barley contain 0.3 grams and 0.5 grams of saturated fat per 100 grams, respectively.

Barley vs Broad (Fava) Beans Vitamins Content

This section will discuss the vitamin content of barley and broad (fava) 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 A, vitamin C, vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid), vitamin B6 (Pyroxidine), vitamin B9 (Folate), and vitamin K.

However, broad (fava) beans have a higher amount of vitamin B1 (Thiamine), vitamin B3 (Niacin), and vitamin E.

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

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

BarleyBroad (Fava) Beans
Vitamin A22 IU53 IU
Vitamin C01.4 mg
Vitamin D00
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)0.646 mg0.555 mg
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)0.285 mg0.333 mg
Vitamin B3 (Niacin)4.6 mg2.83 mg
Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid)0.282 mg0.976 mg
Vitamin B6 (Pyroxidine)0.318 mg0.366 mg
Vitamin B9 (Folate)19 µg423 µg
Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)00
Vitamin E0.57 mg0.05 mg
Vitamin K2.2 µg9 µg

Barley vs Broad (Fava) 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 broad (fava) beans comparison focuses on their mineral content.

Barley is a better source of calcium, copper, fluoride, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, and zinc than broad (fava) beans.

On the other hand, broad (fava) beans are a higher amount of manganese, and selenium.

Check out the table below to learn how barley and broad (fava) beans compare when it comes to mineral content.

BarleyBroad (Fava) Beans
Calcium33 mg103 mg
Copper0.498 mg0.824 mg
Fluoride02.2 µg
Iron3.6 mg6.7 mg
Magnesium133 mg192 mg
Manganese1.94 mg1.63 mg
Phosphorus264 mg421 mg
Potassium452 mg1060 mg
Selenium37.7 µg8.2 µg
Sodium12 mg13 mg
Zinc2.77 mg3.14 mg

The Final Word

Barley and broad (fava) beans are highly nutritious and a great addition to a plant-based diet.

Both barley and broad (fava) 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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