6 Surprising Benefits of Barley Grass

by Meenakshi Nagdeve last updated - Medically reviewed by Vanessa Voltolina (MS, RD)

Barley grass is gaining recognition as a superfood, offering a multitude of health benefits in a simple, green package. Packed with essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and enzymes, this nutrient-rich plant is more than just a dietary supplement. From boosting immunity and aiding digestion to showing potential in skin care, barley grass is emerging as a key player in the realm of natural health solutions. Let’s explore how this humble grass is transforming the landscape of health and wellness, one leaf at a time.

What is Barley Grass?

Barley grass is the young leaf of the barley plant, typically harvested before it matures into grain. It’s known for being nutrient-rich, containing vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and enzymes. Often consumed as a powder or juice, barley grass is popular in health and wellness circles for its potential benefits, like boosting immunity and improving overall health.

Barley Grass Nutrition Facts

Barley grass is a nutritional powerhouse, rich in essential nutrients like vitamins (A, B1, C, and E), minerals (K, Ca, Se), and functional ingredients such as GABA, flavonoids, and chlorophyll. Supported by a study in the National Library of Medicine and USDA data, it offers numerous health benefits. Barley grass promotes better sleep, regulates blood pressure, boosts immunity, and aids digestion. It also has anti-diabetic, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties. For those concerned about cardiovascular health, fatigue, or constipation, barley grass can be a valuable addition to their diet. [1] [2]

Health Benefits of Barley Grass

In this section, we’re looking at barley grass and its many health benefits. Known for being full of nutrients, barley grass is great for overall health. We’ll explore what makes it so special and how it can help keep you healthy.

Potential Antioxidant Power

Comprehensive research between 2008 and 2017 highlights barley grass’s richness in gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), flavonoids, saponarin, lutonarin, K, Ca, Se, tryptophan, chlorophyll, and vitamins, among others. These compounds contribute to its wide range of health benefits, including anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and hypolipidemic effects, supporting its role in preventing chronic diseases. [3]

May Relieve Ulcerative Colitis

A 2021 study in the Microbiome Journal reveals that barley grass might be beneficial in treating Ulcerative Colitis. In the research, mice with colitis showed improvement when their diet was supplemented with barley grass. Notably, it helped maintain their body weight, reduced colon shortening, and improved gut health without affecting their normal eating or drinking habits. Furthermore, barley grass significantly balanced important inflammatory cytokines, suggesting it could alleviate colitis symptoms. These promising results point to barley grass as a potential natural remedy for those struggling with this challenging condition. [4]

Note:- The above research was conducted on mice, more human research needs to be collected to get firm conclusions on the above-mentioned benefit.

2 fresh bunches of young barley grass with 2 glasses of barley grass juice on a wooden table

Fresh bunches of young barley grass Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Rich Source of Vitamins and Minerals

Barley grass, a nutrient-dense superfood, is your ally in strengthening immunity. It’s rich in gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), flavonoids, saponarin, and lutonarin, which contribute to its health-promoting properties. Not just an immune booster, barley grass also regulates blood pressure, aids sleep, and has antidiabetic effects. Its content of superoxide dismutase (SOD), vitamins A, B1, C, E, and minerals like potassium, calcium, and selenium, enhances its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory capabilities. Plus, it’s packed with chlorophyll, dietary fiber, and polyphenols, supporting liver health, digestion, and cognitive function, making it a comprehensive choice for overall well-being. [5]

Vitamin A and Vitamin C play a crucial role in regulating immunity function in the human body, however, more research is needed on the topic. [6] [7]

May Help In Promoting Sleep

Barley grass powder, rich in (gamma-Aminobutyric acid) GABA, calcium, magnesium, and B vitamins, offers a natural way to improve sleep quality. Specifically, barley grass powder derived from young barley leaves shows impressive GABA concentrations, 62.5 times higher than polished rice. Its elevated calcium and potassium levels, 99.6 and 31 times respectively, further enhance its sleep-enhancing potential. These components impact GABA signaling, crucial for maintaining healthy sleep patterns. For those seeking better sleep, incorporating barley grass powder into their routine may provide a natural remedy. [8]

Might Protect Against UV Radiation

Barley grass could be a skincare game-changer for UV protection. Studies by Lee et al. and Kwon et al. reveal that supplements containing fermented young barley enhance skin hydration, reduce thickness, and decrease UV-induced wrinkles. This is attributed to increased hyaluronic acid and reduced collagen degradation. Additionally, Meng et al. found that barley grass extract inhibits melanin production in skin cells. With its potential to improve skin barrier function and reduce oxidative stress, barley grass emerges as a promising ingredient in anti-aging and skin protection strategies.  [9]

May Help In Improving Heart Health

Barley grass may significantly benefit heart health. A study involving type 2 diabetic patients found that daily supplementation with barley leaf (BL) improved LDL(low-density lipoprotein)-vitamin E content and inhibited LDL oxidation, factors critical in cardiovascular health.  [10]

Barley, rich in β-glucan, polyphenols, and other heart-friendly phytochemicals, has shown potential in reducing blood pressure, optimizing cholesterol levels, and preventing cardiovascular diseases according to a study on mice. These qualities suggest barley’s role in a heart-healthy diet and its potential in combating chronic diseases however more human research is needed. [11]

Culinary Uses

Barley grass is used worldwide in soups and stews, and for making barley bread. Barley is also used in the manufacturing of malted products, such as malted milk, wine, and beer.

Apart from an impressive range of usage for humans, barley grass is also used to make hay and fodder for animals.

Word of Caution: Although barley grass is generally safe, some people may react sensitively to the barley grain with symptoms including vomiting, itching, and burning sensation in the throat and mouth. Those people should avoid the use of barley grass or discuss it with a medical expert to better understand if this is allergy-related.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, barley grass stands as a remarkable link between ancient tradition and modern health. Its resurgence in contemporary wellness circles is a testament to its enduring nutritional value and multifaceted health benefits. From enhancing sleep and managing diabetes to offering potential protective effects against UV radiation, barley grass encapsulates the power of nature in supporting overall health and well-being. Incorporating this ancient grain into our daily routines can be a simple yet impactful way to harness the holistic benefits of a time-tested superfood, bridging the gap between historical wisdom and modern lifestyle needs. 

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About the Author

Meenakshi Nagdeve, Co-Founder, Organic Facts is a health and wellness enthusiast and is responsible for managing it. She has completed the Nutrition And Healthy Living Cornell Certificate Program, Cornell University, US. She holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Management from IIM Bangalore and B. Tech in Metallurgical Engineering and Materials Science from IIT Bombay. Prior to this, she worked for a few years in IT and Financial services. An ardent follower of naturopathy, she believes in healing with foods. In her free time, she loves to travel and taste different types of teas.

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