What is the Difference Between Barley, Wheat and Other Grains

In the pyramid of healthy eating, an important place is given to products made from grains: bread and various cereals. They account for a significant part of the carbohydrates consumed by humans, so the problem of choosing the most useful cereals is especially relevant.

Of all the grains, the most popular are wheat, barley, rye and oats. They differ not only in appearance, but also in composition, nutritional value and properties.

Characteristics of cereals

The benefits of a product are determined by its nutritional, energy value and vitamin and mineral composition.


Wheat - one of the oldest cultivated plants... The first mentions of its cultivation date back to 9-6 millennia BC. e. Today it is the # 1 cereal in many countries.

Wheat is the most diverse of all grains.but from the point of view of application, the division into soft and hard plays an important role. The energy and nutritional value of the grain depends on this. Durum wheat contains slightly more protein (13 g versus 11.8 g in soft wheat) and fiber (11.3 versus 10.8), but less carbohydrates (57.5 versus 59.5). The amount of fat is about 2.5 g, the calorie content is 305 kcal.

What is the Difference Between Barley, Wheat and Other Grains

The chemical composition is rich. 100 g of the product contains:

  • manganese - 188% of the daily value;
  • silicon - 160%;
  • cobalt - 54%;
  • selenium - 52.7%;
  • copper - 47%;
  • phosphorus - 46.3%;
  • molybdenum - 33.7%;
  • iron - 30%.

The grain is high in vitamins PP (39%), B1 (29.3%), E (20%), B6 ​​(18.9%).

Attention! The most valuable part of a wheat grain is the germ. Sprouted cereals are healthier, they contain oil with a high content of biologically active components.


The cultivation of this plant began about 10 thousand years ago. Although the food value of barley had declined by the 19th century, today it ranks 4th in the world in terms of acreage after wheat, corn and rice.

What is the Difference Between Barley, Wheat and Other Grains

The calorie content of raw barley is 288 kcal.

Nutritional value:

  • 10.3 g protein;
  • 2.4 g fat;
  • 56.4 g of carbohydrates;
  • 14.5 grams of fiber.

Hulled grain contains 354 kcal, it is richer in protein (12.5 g) and dietary fiber (17.3 g).

The chemical composition of the cereal (per 100 g):

  • silicon - 2000% (20 times the daily consumption rate);
  • cobalt - 79%;
  • manganese - 74%;
  • copper - 47%;
  • phosphorus - 44%;
  • iron - 41%;
  • selenium - 40.2%;
  • magnesium - 37.5%.

Most of the vitamins in barley PP (32.5%), B6 ​​(23.5%), biotin, B1 and B4 (22% each).


Rye was originally seen as a weed in wheat and barley., therefore, its domestication took place around the 2nd millennium BC. e. The cold-hardy and unpretentious cereal was cultivated mainly by northern peoples: the Scythians (IX-III centuries BC), and later the Slavs and farmers of Northern Europe.

Gradually, rye became a widespread cereal, but in the 21st century, the overwhelming part of world production fell on Germany, Russia and Poland.

What is the Difference Between Barley, Wheat and Other Grains

Whole, unprocessed grains contain 283 kcal. Nutritional value:

  • 9.9 g protein;
  • 2.2 g of fat;
  • 55.8 g of carbohydrates.

Grain contains a large amount of dietary fiber - 16.4 g, that is, 100 g of the product satisfy 82% of the daily human need for fiber.

100 g of rye are rich in substances such as:

  • silicon - 283.3% of the daily value;
  • manganese - 138.5%;
  • cobalt - 76%;
  • copper - 46%;
  • selenium - 46.9%;
  • phosphorus - 45.8%;
  • iron - 30%;
  • magnesium - 30%;
  • molybdenum - 25.7%.

Grain is a source of group vitamins B, especially B1, B5 and B6. They contain from 17 to 25%.


This is a relatively young culture, which began to be processed no earlier than the 2nd millennium BC. eh... Like rye, oats have long been considered a weed that littered spelled crops, but gradually moving to the northern latitudes, they displaced more thermophilic cereals and began to be widely cultivated in many European countries.

Reference! In the harsh climate of Great Britain, especially Scotland, oats were an important part of the diet. Flour was used to bake flat cakes, porridge and puddings. In Bavaria (Germany), despite the legal prohibition, oat beer was brewed. In Russia, the usual food of the population was oatmeal and oatmeal jelly.

Grain has the highest calorie content among the considered cereals - 316 kcal. Contains a lot of fat (6.2 g) with a moderate amount of protein (10 g) and carbohydrates (55.1 g). Dietary fiber per 100 g of product - 12 g.

What is the Difference Between Barley, Wheat and Other Grains

Oats lead in silicon content: 1000 mg in just 100 g of grain (this is 3333.3% of the daily value). He is rich:

  • manganese - 262.5% of the daily value;
  • cobalt - 80%;
  • copper - 60%;
  • molybdenum - 55.7%;
  • selenium - 43.3%;
  • phosphorus - 45.1%;
  • magnesium - 33.8%;
  • iron - 30.6%;
  • zinc - 30.1%.

Contains vitamins B1 (31.3%), H (30%), B4 (22%), B5 and PP (20% each).

Reference! Silicon is essential in collagen synthesis.

Similarities and differences of wheat, barley, oats and rye

All plants are included in the family Cereals, or Bluegrass. Despite the family connection, there are significant differences between them both in appearance and in properties.

In appearance

Seedlings of wheat, barley and oats are almost indistinguishable from each other... The rye has pinkish-red or bluish shoots, which then become pale green in color.

The stalk of cereals is a hollow straw... Rye and oats have tall stems; barley is the shortest of them.

Interesting! There is a saying about the differences between oats and barley: "Oats speaks and rye listens." Thus, folk wisdom noticed the presence of two ears at the bases of barley leaves, and tongues at the oat leaf sheaths. The leaves of rye and wheat have both organs.

The most obvious differences appear at the stage of formation of inflorescences - spikes... So, oats have a panicle, wheat has a four-sided ear. Inflorescences of barley and rye do not differ in appearance, but after threshing, the rye weevil remains naked, and the barley one is hidden in a dense scale.

In more detail external differences wheat, rye, barley and oats are shown in the table:

 Sign Wheat Barley Oats Rye
Number of growing seasons Annual Annual, biennial or perennial Annual Annual or biennial
Stem height 45-150 cm 60-80 cm 50-170 cm 80-100 cm
Stem Erect hollow and naked Straight naked straw Solomina 3-6 mm in diameter, has 2-3 knots Hollow and glabrous, pubescent under inflorescences, includes 5-6 internodes
Leaves Flat linear or broad-linear (up to 2 cm wide). At the site of the transition from the leaf sheath to the leaf plate, they have lanceolate ears and a membranous tongue. Linear, up to 30 cm long and 2-3 cm wide, flat, smooth. At the base of the plate, ears are formed. Regular green or gray. Narrow (8-30 mm wide) and long (25-30 cm long). Glaucous flat, broadly linear (15–25 mm), reaching 15–30 cm in length. At the base of the plate, a short uvula and ears.
Inflorescences and spikelets The spike is loose, two-rowed, tetrahedral. Has a flexible stem. The apex is formed by a short wide tooth. A compound ear with lanceolate spikelets, collected in steps (2-3) on a common axis. Spreading or one-sided panicle up to 25 cm long. The spikelet axis is glabrous, the scales are long bisected. Elongated, slightly drooping ear.
Weevil Oval, oblong-ovoid. Has a pronounced crest and a longitudinal groove on the back. Often grows together with the upper hymen. Has a wide groove. Lightly pubescent, hidden in hard scales. Oblong, laterally compressed. Has a deep groove in the middle.
Varieties Hard and soft Two-row and six-row, furcat Filmy and naked Sowing rye

By properties

The considered plants differ significantly among themselves in terms of soil, heat and moisture requirements:

  1. Wheat prefers a warm continental climate. For germination of seeds, a temperature of + 1 ... + 2 ° C is required, for germination - + 3 ... + 4 ° C. The yield is highly dependent on the length of daylight hours. The culture is capricious in terms of soil selection, the minimum humus content is 1.8%, the pH is at least 5.8. Suitable for cultivation are sod-podzolic, sandy loam, in extreme cases - peat-bog lowland soils. Durum wheat is exclusively spring, and soft wheat is winter.
  2. What is the Difference Between Barley, Wheat and Other GrainsBarley differs from wheat in its unpretentiousness: due to the accelerated growing season, it manages to ripen in cold regions. Suitable for growing high in the mountains and northern regions. Differs in frost resistance, withstands prolonged drought and undemanding to the composition of the soil.
  3. Oats are unpretentious to the climate, seedlings tolerate slight frosts (up to -4 ... -5 ° C). The short growing season (80–120 days) makes it possible to grow crops in the northern regions. At the same time, oats are hygrophilous, their yield decreases in dry years. Ideal locations: Northwest Europe, Russia and Canada with short and rainy summers. Differs in increased ability to assimilate nutrients, including poorly soluble potassium compounds.
  4. The root system of rye reaches 1-2 m in depth, making the culture the least whimsical of all cereals. The plant actively assimilates nutrients from the soil, therefore it is able to grow even on poor humus and acidic soils. As a winter crop, it is the most winter-hardy, withstands a drop in temperature to -19 ... -21 ° C. Another benefit of rye is cross-pollination. Often the crop is grown as winter crops, insuring the spring plantings of other cereals.

Does it contain gluten

Gluten, or gluten, is a special group of proteins found in cereal plants... This substance is one of the criteria for the quality of flour: it is responsible for the firmness and elasticity of the dough. Dry gluten improves the lower quality flour, it is added to minced meat and pasta.

Reference!Vegetarian diets often use a product called seitan, a gluten-free, natural substitute for animal protein.

There is a rare condition called celiac disease, or celiac disease.... Intolerance to foods containing gluten is associated with a malfunction of the small intestine. Celiac disease has different causes: the consequences of autoimmune diseases, an allergic reaction or a genetic predisposition. Patients are prescribed a gluten-free diet.

What is the Difference Between Barley, Wheat and Other Grains

In relation to healthy people, the harm of gluten is due to the fact that, as a result of the selection of more productive varieties of cereals, the gluten molecule has increased in size. To digest it, more enzymes are required - this increases the load on the stomach and intestines... Fully undigested gluten causes inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract, contributes to obesity.

Gluten is present in all four grains:

  • Wheat is the richest in gluten - here it is 80% of the total protein content (when processed into semolina, the amount of gluten is reduced to 50%, in pasta - to 11%);
  • barley contains 22.5% gluten, so products made from gluten-free flour, but using barley malt and molasses as a sweetener, are contraindicated for people with celiac disease;
  • rye includes only 15.7% gluten.

The situation with oats. Pure, this grain is gluten freebut sowing wheat in oat fields and cross contamination raises gluten to 21% of total protein.

Beneficial features

Cereals have a positive effect on the human body and are used to treat various diseases.


Wheat is a great source of energy. Cereal broth with honey restores strength after long-term illnesses.

Unprocessed grains have a beneficial effect on the intestines:

  • pectins absorb harmful substances and reduce putrefactive processes;
  • fiber contains plant fibers - prebiotics, which promote the growth of beneficial microflora.

Wheat bran is rich in fiberThis makes them an effective means of weight loss, while bran poultices and decoctions soften and nourish the skin.

Germination of cereals facilitates the assimilation of proteins, fats and carbohydrates contained in grains, and increases the concentration of vitamins and other elements tenfold.

What is the Difference Between Barley, Wheat and Other Grains

Wheat germ has a lot of useful properties:

  • normalize acid-base balance;
  • promote better digestion, cleanse from toxins;
  • act as an immunomodulator: increase the body's resistance to the negative effects of the environment;
  • stimulate metabolism and blood formation;
  • have antioxidant properties, prevent the action of free radicals, strengthen the walls of blood vessels and prevent cancer;
  • when applied externally, they have an anti-burn effect, accelerate the healing of wounds and ulcers, and are used as a rejuvenating agent.

It is better to buy wheat for germination in pharmacies or specialized stores.... The germination procedure itself is simple: the grains are soaked in water for 2 days, then covered with a damp cloth for several days until sprouts appear. Such a product is added to salads or eaten as an independent dish. Store in the refrigerator for no longer than 48 hours.

Interesting! An external antiseptic agent "Mitroshin Liquid" is prepared from thermally treated grains of wheat, rye or oats, which is used for eczema, scaly lichen, neurodermatitis, purulent inflammation of hair follicles (sycosis).


Grain cleanses the body of harmful substances, improves digestion and promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria in the intestines. Barley grits rich in polysaccharide β-glucan, which has a cholesterol-lowering effect.

What is the Difference Between Barley, Wheat and Other Grains

In folk medicine, a decoction of barley is used to treat:

  • respiratory organs for tuberculosis, pneumonia, pharyngitis, sore throat and bronchitis;
  • diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, including ulcers, colitis, cholecystitis.

A decoction of grain flakes has a diuretic effect, and a slimy drink helps with acute intestinal inflammation.

There is a whole a number of recipes for diseases and skin defects:

  • barley diet treats eczema, psoriasis and pyoderma;
  • hot ointment relieves freckles;
  • a dressing made of cereal, vinegar and quince is used for gout;
  • malt treats boils and acne.

Plant widely used in cosmetology in the production of shampoos, balms, creams.


Rye grain and its derivatives possess whole set useful properties:

  • What is the Difference Between Barley, Wheat and Other Grainsthe amino acids lysine and threonine promote tissue growth and repair;
  • a decoction of cereal has an expectorant effect in bronchitis;
  • sourdough rye bread is used as a laxative, and bran broth is used as a fixative;
  • kvass contains many vitamins, normalizes digestion and is good for the cardiovascular system;
  • rye stalks are used to treat thyroid diseases;
  • sprouts indicated for diseases of the gastrointestinal tract;
  • poultices of warm rye dough are used to treat hard, painful tumors.

Products made from such flour have a low glycemic index., therefore, are included in the diet of patients with diabetes mellitus.


Oats are indispensable for depletion of the body:

  • mucous broths and cereal soups have an enveloping effect in acute inflammatory diseases of the gastrointestinal tract (gastritis, enterocolitis);
  • What is the Difference Between Barley, Wheat and Other Grainseasily digestible proteins, fats and carbohydrates, B vitamins are indicated for intestinal atony, viral hepatitis, diseases of the nervous and cardiovascular systems, iron deficiency anemia;
  • liquid oat stew acts as a strengthening agent for tuberculosis;
  • diabetics are given an infusion of unrefined grain to normalize sugar levels;
  • plant tincture has a sedative and hypnotic effect, it is also used as a carminative for flatulence;
  • decoction of cereals with honey has tonic properties, has a mild laxative effect;
  • fresh straw is used for hot compresses for kidney stones, and baths relieve joint pain in arthrosis;
  • in experimental therapy, alcoholic extract from young plants is included in the treatment of drug and tobacco addiction.

Cosmetic masks made from oatmeal and flakes cleanse the skin, and alcoholic tincture of milk grains is used as a sedative for neurasthenia and insomnia.

What's more useful

The most common way to consume cereals is using flour and cereals.

Leading by useful properties rye flour, especially peeled flour (whole grain): it contains a lot of fiber, potassium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus and calcium.

Interesting! According to historians, a large amount of proteins and amino acids in natural leavened rye bread helped the Russian peasant to maintain the body during Orthodox fasts and compensated for the lack of meat in the diet.

Coarse rye flour baked goods are indicated for diabetes, since it contains slow carbohydrates and does not cause spikes in blood glucose.

Barley and oat flours are rarely used without added wheat: their gluten is not enough for the elasticity and fluffiness of the dough.

Among cereals, the most useful are barley groats and oat flakes. (Hercules). Barley is an unpolished grain that has partially retained its bran shell. Therefore, in terms of the amount of fiber (8 g), it is ahead of oatmeal (6 g), contains more calcium and folic acid. Pearl barley contains an even greater amount of dietary fiber (15.6 g), but it is poorer in vitamin and mineral composition. Barley protein is almost completely absorbed by the body, and slow carbohydrates give a long-lasting feeling of fullness.

Oatmeal is a storehouse of vitamins group B, biotin and vitamin K, necessary for normal blood clotting. The product saturates the body with potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, iron and iodine.

Harm and contraindications

Cereals contain a lot of fiber and therefore not recommended during exacerbation of peptic ulcer and chronic gastritis... With irritable bowel syndrome, it is better to give preference to mucous broths and sprouted seeds. Excessive consumption of bran provokes constipation and indigestion, so their daily portion should not exceed 70 g.

Eating ergot-contaminated or chemically-treated grain leads to food poisoning... Another danger in cereals is the content of the antinutrient phytin. This primarily applies to whole grain products from oats and wheat.

Phytic acid:

  • blocks the absorption of phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc;
  • binds with calcium, forming insoluble compounds - chelates;
  • inhibits the work of enzymes responsible for the digestion of food.

Phytin causes severe vitamin and mineral deficiencies, the consequences of which are bone loss, bowel disease, dental problems.

People with individual intolerance or hypersensitivity wheat, barley and rye are contraindicated, and when buying oat products it is important to pay attention to the label "gluten-free".

What is the Difference Between Barley, Wheat and Other Grains

What is more harmful

Wheat flour has excellent taste and processing properties, but the higher the grade of flour, the less useful it is. In the highest grade and grains, starch and gluten predominate, but little fiber and protein. Whole grain wheat flour contains vitamins PP, E, B1 and B2, but their amount decreases with intensive processing and disappears in the highest grades.

Small cereals from wheat grain such as semolina and couscous are not healthy foods: they are high in calories and poor in chemical composition.

Reference! As a useful side dish, it is better to choose spelled or spelled - semi-wild wheat grain that retains the beneficial properties of whole grain.

Application features

Cereals are used in various areas of the national economy: from food production to pharmaceuticals.

Wheat is applied:

  • for the production of flour, bread and pasta (from hard varieties), confectionery (from soft varieties);
  • as cereals: semolina, couscous, bulgur, freeke;
  • as a fodder crop (straw, haylage);
  • as a flavor enhancer: monosodium glutamate was derived from wheat protein, but in modern production soy is used for this;
  • for the preparation of alcoholic beverages: beer, vodka and whiskey.

What is the Difference Between Barley, Wheat and Other Grains

Scope of application of barley:

  • pearl barley and barley groats (barley is crushed, unpolished kernels, pearl barley - whole, peeled and polished grains);
  • barley flour is added during baking, it is not used in its pure form, since the bread will crumble and quickly stale;
  • coffee substitutethat does not contain caffeine;
  • malt production from sprouted grain, mainly for brewing;
  • edible green alcohol for making scotch whiskey and English gin.

Unrefined grain and straw serve food for animals.

Oats are best known as:

  • oatmeal - rolled oats, cereals in muesli;
  • flour, which is added to bread and pastries;
  • animal milk substitute - oat milk;
  • compound feed and concentrated feed for animals;
  • supplement in sports nutrition;
  • raw materials in the alcoholic industry: beer and mash are made from cereals (until 1975, whiskey was made from it).

Rye is used:

  • for baking bread (distinguish between seeded, peeled and wallpaper flour);
  • for the production of alcohol with the lowest content of fusel oils;
  • for the production of starch;
  • as a fodder crop;
  • as a siderat.

What is best for losing weight

From cereals produce a wide variety of products that contain ingredients that do not contribute to weight loss... Any confectionery and instant food products will not be dietary, even if they are made from the healthiest cereals. Alcoholic beverages cause irreparable harm to health.

Wheat flour products are the most nutritious and contain the maximum amount of gluten. However, crop sprouts and whole grains - spelled - help normalize weight.

What is the Difference Between Barley, Wheat and Other Grains

The difference between wheat and barley is that the latter is low in starch and high in fiber, making it a popular dietary product. Barley grits are especially useful: this is an unpolished grain that improves intestinal peristalsis. Barley is no less appreciated: it takes a lot of time to digest, which means that it saturates for a long time.

Oatmeal and decoctions are used for weight loss... They not only contribute to weight loss, but also improve bowel function, normalize fat metabolism. In the famous diet of Pierre Ducan, a daily intake of up to 3 tbsp is recommended. l. oat bran. Mono-diet on this cereal is popular.

Rye bread made from wholemeal flour and naturally leavened - the original dish of Russian peasants. In a number of countries (Germany, Poland and the Scandinavian countries) cereals are included in the group of healthy and dietary food. Rye grains contain the highest amount of fiber and the least amount of gluten. This makes it an indispensable product in the diet of diabetics.

The lower the degree of processing of the grain, the higher the fiber content. and richer chemical composition. However, not a single product will bring the desired weight loss if the recommended KBZHU norms (calories, proteins, fats and carbohydrates) are not observed.


The main indicators of the benefits of cereals for the human body are the presence of dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals and other substances.Whole grains of wheat, rye, oats and barley have a rich composition and unique properties, but lose a significant part of them during heat treatment. This applies to wheat flour and semolina, instant oatmeal.

For those who care about their health, it is recommended to include in their diet yeast-free rye bread, barley groats and coarse varieties of oatmeal.

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