Barley vs Teff: Which Is Healthier?

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

Written by Dennis Gillett, Health & Fitness Writer. Updated on January 31, 2023.

Barley and teff 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 teff 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.


Teff (Eragrostis tef) is a small, gluten-free ancient grain that is native to Ethiopia and Eritrea.

It is a good source of iron, calcium, zinc, and B vitamins like niacin and thiamin. It is also a good source of dietary fiber, protein, and essential amino acids.

Teff has been linked to various health benefits, including improved blood sugar control and weight management. It is also gluten-free and easy to digest, making it a great option for people with gluten sensitivities or celiac disease.

Teff can be cooked and eaten as a porridge, added to soups and stews, or ground into flour to make bread, pancakes, and other baked goods. It can also be used as a replacement for grains like quinoa, millet, or oats in recipes.

Teff is an excellent source of Vitamin B1 (Thiamine), and Vitamin B6 (Pyroxidine).

It also contains a good amount of Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), Vitamin B3 (Niacin), and Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid).

Barley vs Teff 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 teff.

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

Energy354 kcal367 kcal
Carbs73.5 g73.13 g
Sugar0.8 g1.84 g
Fiber17.3 g8 g
Protein12.5 g13.3 g
Fat2.3 g2.38 g
Saturated Fat0.482 g0.449 g

Barley vs Teff Calories

Most calories in grains come from carbs.

Comparing barley vs teff for weight loss, barley is slightly lower in calories, with 354 calories per 100 grams, compared to 367 calories per 100 grams of teff.

However, both barley and teff 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 Teff Protein

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

Teff offers around 6% more protein than barley.

Teff has 13.3 grams of protein per 100 grams, while barley has 12.5 grams of protein per 100 grams.

Barley vs Teff 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 teff.

The total amount of carbohydrates is around 1% higher in barley than in teff. It has 73.5 grams per 100 grams, compared to 73.1 grams in teff.

There’s less sugar in barley than in teff, 56% precisely.

That said, 100 grams of barley contains 0.8 grams of sugar, while the same amount of teff contains 1.8 grams.

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

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 teff which barley offers 8 grams per 100 gram portion.

Barley vs Teff Fats

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

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

Total fat in barley and teff:

  • Barley: 2.3 grams per 100 grams
  • Teff: 2.4 per 100 grams

Speaking of saturated fats, teff is 20% lower in saturated fats.

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

Barley vs Teff Vitamins Content

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

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 B6 (Pyroxidine).

However, teff has a higher amount of vitamin A, vitamin B1 (Thiamine), vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), vitamin B3 (Niacin), vitamin B9 (Folate), vitamin E, and vitamin K.

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

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

Vitamin A22 IU9 IU
Vitamin C00
Vitamin D00
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)0.646 mg0.39 mg
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)0.285 mg0.27 mg
Vitamin B3 (Niacin)4.6 mg3.363 mg
Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid)0.282 mg0.942 mg
Vitamin B6 (Pyroxidine)0.318 mg0.482 mg
Vitamin B9 (Folate)19 µg0
Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)00
Vitamin E0.57 mg0.08 mg
Vitamin K2.2 µg1.9 µg

Barley vs Teff 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 teff comparison focuses on their mineral content.

Barley is a better source of calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, and zinc than teff.

On the other hand, teff is a higher amount of potassium, and selenium.

Barley and teff contain the same amount of fluoride, and sodium.

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

Calcium33 mg180 mg
Copper0.498 mg0.81 mg
Iron3.6 mg7.63 mg
Magnesium133 mg184 mg
Manganese1.94 mg9.24 mg
Phosphorus264 mg429 mg
Potassium452 mg427 mg
Selenium37.7 µg4.4 µg
Sodium12 mg12 mg
Zinc2.77 mg3.63 mg

The Final Word

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

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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