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Barley vs Cornstarch: What’s The Difference?

This article explains the key similarities and differences between barley and cornstarch, foods from the grains food group. Read on to learn more about the barley vs cornstarch comparison.
Catherine Toledo, Journalist

Written by Catherine Toledo, Journalist. Updated on January 31, 2023.

Barley and cornstarch belong to the grains food group, one of the staple food groups for people on a plant-based diet.

Grains and grain products are an affordable source of carbohydrates, as well as essential vitamins and minerals, including B vitamins (such as thiamin, riboflavin, and niacin), iron, and zinc, minerals that are usually harder to get on a plant-based diet.

They also provide a small amount of protein and healthy fats.

However, it is important to note that whole grains are generally a better source of these nutrients than refined grains.

This article will thoroughly compare barley and cornstarch and help you learn more about their similarities and differences.


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.


Cornstarch (Zea mays) is a type of carbohydrate derived from the endosperm of the corn kernel.

It is a good source of energy, providing a high amount of carbohydrates and small amounts of protein, vitamins, and minerals. It is pure starch and has a very low nutritional value compared to whole-grain cornmeal.

Cornstarch is commonly used as a thickening agent in cooking and baking, as it can absorb liquids and increase the viscosity of sauces, gravies, and puddings. It is also used as a coating for fried foods to provide a crisp texture. It is a gluten-free ingredient and can be used as a thickener for people with gluten sensitivity or celiac disease.

Cornstarch is typically used in small amounts and is not a significant source of nutrition in the diet. It is often used as a thickener in combination with other ingredients, and when consumed in moderation, it can be included as part of a healthy diet.

Cornstarch is not an excellent source of any particular vitamin.

Barley vs Cornstarch 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 cornstarch.

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

Energy354 kcal381 kcal
Carbs73.5 g91.3 g
Sugar0.8 g0 g
Fiber17.3 g0.9 g
Protein12.5 g0.26 g
Fat2.3 g0.05 g
Saturated Fat0.482 g0.009 g

Barley vs Cornstarch Calories

Most calories in grains come from carbs.

Comparing barley vs cornstarch for weight loss, barley is slightly lower in calories, with 354 calories per 100 grams, compared to 381 calories per 100 grams of cornstarch.

However, both barley and cornstarch 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 Cornstarch Protein

Grains and most grain products, including barley and cornstarch, are important sources of plant-based protein.

However, it should be noted that most grains, with the exception of quinoa and buckwheat, for example, are low in lysine and methionine.

That said, you can combine grains with legumes to get a complete protein.

Barley offers around 98% more protein than cornstarch.

Barley has 12.5 grams of protein per 100 grams, while cornstarch has 0.3 grams of protein per 100 grams.

Barley vs Cornstarch 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 cornstarch.

The total amount of carbohydrates is around 19% higher in cornstarch than in barley. It has 91.3 grams per 100 grams, compared to 73.5 grams in barley.

There’s less sugar in cornstarch than in barley, 100% precisely.

That said, 100 grams of cornstarch contains 0 grams of sugar, while the same amount of barley contains 0.8 grams.

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

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

With 17.3 grams of fiber per 100 grams, barley is a better source of fiber than cornstarch which barley offers 0.9 grams per 100 gram portion.

Barley vs Cornstarch Fats

Like most other grains, barley and cornstarch are low in fat.

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

Total fat in barley and cornstarch:

  • Barley: 2.3 grams per 100 grams
  • Cornstarch: 0.1 per 100 grams

Speaking of saturated fats, cornstarch is 100% lower in saturated fats.

Cornstarch and barley contain 0 grams and 0.5 grams of saturated fat per 100 grams, respectively.

Barley vs Cornstarch Vitamins Content

This section will discuss the vitamin content of barley and cornstarch.

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

However, cornstarch has a higher amount of vitamin A, vitamin B1 (Thiamine), vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), vitamin B3 (Niacin), vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid), vitamin B6 (Pyroxidine), vitamin B9 (Folate), vitamin E, and vitamin K.

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

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

Vitamin A22 IU0
Vitamin C00
Vitamin D00
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)0.646 mg0
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)0.285 mg0
Vitamin B3 (Niacin)4.6 mg0
Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid)0.282 mg0
Vitamin B6 (Pyroxidine)0.318 mg0
Vitamin B9 (Folate)19 µg0
Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)00
Vitamin E0.57 mg0
Vitamin K2.2 µg0

Barley vs Cornstarch 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 cornstarch comparison focuses on their mineral content.

On the other hand, cornstarch is a higher amount of calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, sodium, and zinc.

Barley and cornstarch contain the same amount of fluoride.

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

Calcium33 mg2 mg
Copper0.498 mg0.05 mg
Iron3.6 mg0.47 mg
Magnesium133 mg3 mg
Manganese1.94 mg0.053 mg
Phosphorus264 mg13 mg
Potassium452 mg3 mg
Selenium37.7 µg2.8 µg
Sodium12 mg9 mg
Zinc2.77 mg0.06 mg

The Final Word

This article highlighted the similarities and differences between barley and cornstarch.

Grains, also known as cereal grains, are an important source of nutrition for many people around the world. They are a rich source of carbohydrates, which provide energy for the body.

Whole grains contain important vitamins and minerals, such as B vitamins and iron. Whole grains, in particular, are high in dietary fiber and can help with digestion and weight management.

They may also have other health benefits, such as reducing the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer.

Grains are also a staple food and an important source of food security in many parts of the world.


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