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Barley vs Wild rice: Which Is Healthier?

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

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

Barley and wild rice 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 wild rice and help you learn more about their similarities and differences.

Barley

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.

Wild rice

Wild rice (Zizania aquatica) is a type of cereal grain that is native to North America, specifically the Great Lakes region and the St. Lawrence River area.

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

Wild rice has a nutty and slightly earthy flavor and is often used as a side dish or as an ingredient in salads, soups, and stuffings. It is also gluten-free and easy to digest, making it a great option for people with gluten sensitivities or celiac disease.

Wild rice 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 considered a sustainable crop, as it can be grown in various habitats, including shallow water, and doesn’t require chemical fertilizers or pesticides.

Wild rice is an excellent source of Vitamin B3 (Niacin).

It also contains a good amount of Vitamin B1 (Thiamine), Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid), Vitamin B6 (Pyroxidine), and Vitamin B9 (Folate) and some Vitamin E.

Barley vs Wild rice 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 wild rice.

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

BarleyWild rice
Energy354 kcal357 kcal
Carbs73.5 g74.9 g
Sugar0.8 g2.5 g
Fiber17.3 g6.2 g
Protein12.5 g14.7 g
Fat2.3 g1.08 g
Saturated Fat0.482 g0.156 g

Barley vs Wild rice Calories

Most calories in grains come from carbs.

Comparing barley vs wild rice for weight loss, barley is slightly lower in calories, with 354 calories per 100 grams, compared to 357 calories per 100 grams of wild rice.

However, both barley and wild rice 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 Wild rice Protein

Grains and most grain products, including barley and wild rice, 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.

Wild rice offers around 15% more protein than barley.

Wild rice has 14.7 grams of protein per 100 grams, while barley has 12.5 grams of protein per 100 grams.

Barley vs Wild rice 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 wild rice.

The total amount of carbohydrates is around 2% higher in wild rice than in barley. It has 74.9 grams per 100 grams, compared to 73.5 grams in barley.

There’s less sugar in barley than in wild rice, 68% precisely.

That said, 100 grams of barley contains 0.8 grams of sugar, while the same amount of wild rice contains 2.5 grams.

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

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 wild rice which barley offers 6.2 grams per 100 gram portion.

Barley vs Wild rice Fats

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

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

Total fat in barley and wild rice:

  • Barley: 2.3 grams per 100 grams
  • Wild rice: 1.1 per 100 grams

Speaking of saturated fats, wild rice is 60% lower in saturated fats.

Wild rice and barley contain 0.2 grams and 0.5 grams of saturated fat per 100 grams, respectively.

Barley vs Wild rice Vitamins Content

This section will discuss the vitamin content of barley and wild rice.

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 B3 (Niacin), vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid), vitamin B6 (Pyroxidine), vitamin B9 (Folate), and vitamin E.

However, wild rice has a higher amount of vitamin A, vitamin B1 (Thiamine), vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), and vitamin K.

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

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

BarleyWild rice
Vitamin A22 IU19 IU
Vitamin C00
Vitamin D00
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)0.646 mg0.115 mg
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)0.285 mg0.262 mg
Vitamin B3 (Niacin)4.6 mg6.73 mg
Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid)0.282 mg1.07 mg
Vitamin B6 (Pyroxidine)0.318 mg0.391 mg
Vitamin B9 (Folate)19 µg95 µg
Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)00
Vitamin E0.57 mg0.82 mg
Vitamin K2.2 µg1.9 µg

Barley vs Wild rice 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 wild rice comparison focuses on their mineral content.

Barley is a better source of copper, magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc than wild rice.

On the other hand, wild rice is a higher amount of calcium, iron, manganese, potassium, selenium, and sodium.

Barley and wild rice contain the same amount of fluoride.

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

BarleyWild rice
Calcium33 mg21 mg
Copper0.498 mg0.524 mg
Fluoride00
Iron3.6 mg1.96 mg
Magnesium133 mg177 mg
Manganese1.94 mg1.33 mg
Phosphorus264 mg433 mg
Potassium452 mg427 mg
Selenium37.7 µg2.8 µg
Sodium12 mg7 mg
Zinc2.77 mg5.96 mg

The Final Word

This article highlighted the similarities and differences between barley and wild rice.

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.

Sources

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How we ensure this article is accurate?
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