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Barley vs Couscous: How Do They Compare?

This article explains the key similarities and differences between barley and couscous, foods from the grains food group. Read on to learn more about the barley vs couscous comparison.
Michael Whaley, Health Writer

Written by Michael Whaley, Health Writer. Updated on January 31, 2023.

Barley and couscous 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 couscous 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.


Couscous (Couscous) is a type of pasta made from small, round granules of semolina, which is the coarsely ground endosperm of durum wheat.

It is a good source of carbohydrates and small amounts of protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals like iron and B vitamins, depending on the ingredients used in the dish’s preparation.

Couscous is a staple food in North Africa and the Middle East and is traditionally served as a side dish or as a base for stews and salads. It is also gluten-free and easy to digest.

Couscous can be enjoyed in various ways. It can be cooked in different sauces, with herbs and spices, and can also be used in salads and soups. It can also be paired with vegetables and lean protein sources such as legumes and in moderate portions.

Couscous is an excellent source of Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid).

It also contains a good amount of Vitamin B1 (Thiamine), and Vitamin B3 (Niacin) and some Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), Vitamin B6 (Pyroxidine), and Vitamin B9 (Folate).

Barley vs Couscous 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 couscous.

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

Energy354 kcal376 kcal
Carbs73.5 g77.4 g
Sugar0.8 g0 g
Fiber17.3 g5 g
Protein12.5 g12.8 g
Fat2.3 g0.64 g
Saturated Fat0.482 g0.117 g

Barley vs Couscous Calories

Most calories in grains come from carbs.

Comparing barley vs couscous for weight loss, barley is slightly lower in calories, with 354 calories per 100 grams, compared to 376 calories per 100 grams of couscous.

However, both barley and couscous 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 Couscous Protein

Grains and most grain products, including barley and couscous, 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.

Couscous offers around 2% more protein than barley.

Couscous has 12.8 grams of protein per 100 grams, while barley has 12.5 grams of protein per 100 grams.

Barley vs Couscous 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 couscous.

The total amount of carbohydrates is around 5% higher in couscous than in barley. It has 77.4 grams per 100 grams, compared to 73.5 grams in barley.

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

That said, 100 grams of couscous 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 couscous.

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 couscous which barley offers 5 grams per 100 gram portion.

Barley vs Couscous Fats

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

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

Total fat in barley and couscous:

  • Barley: 2.3 grams per 100 grams
  • Couscous: 0.6 per 100 grams

Speaking of saturated fats, couscous is 80% lower in saturated fats.

Couscous and barley contain 0.1 grams and 0.5 grams of saturated fat per 100 grams, respectively.

Barley vs Couscous Vitamins Content

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

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 B5 (Pantothenic acid), and vitamin B9 (Folate).

However, couscous has a higher amount of vitamin A, vitamin B1 (Thiamine), vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), vitamin B3 (Niacin), vitamin B6 (Pyroxidine), vitamin E, and vitamin K.

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

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

Vitamin A22 IU0
Vitamin C00
Vitamin D00
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)0.646 mg0.163 mg
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)0.285 mg0.078 mg
Vitamin B3 (Niacin)4.6 mg3.49 mg
Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid)0.282 mg1.24 mg
Vitamin B6 (Pyroxidine)0.318 mg0.11 mg
Vitamin B9 (Folate)19 µg20 µg
Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)00
Vitamin E0.57 mg0
Vitamin K2.2 µg0

Barley vs Couscous 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 couscous comparison focuses on their mineral content.

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

Barley and couscous contain the same amount of fluoride.

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

Calcium33 mg24 mg
Copper0.498 mg0.247 mg
Iron3.6 mg1.08 mg
Magnesium133 mg44 mg
Manganese1.94 mg0.78 mg
Phosphorus264 mg170 mg
Potassium452 mg166 mg
Selenium37.7 µg2.8 µg
Sodium12 mg10 mg
Zinc2.77 mg0.83 mg

The Final Word

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

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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