Barley Grass Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Barley grass
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Barley grass is the young leaf of the barley plant (Hordeum vulgare). Sometimes referred to as "barley leaves" or "barley green," barley grass is rich in chlorophyll and antioxidants (such as lutonarin and saponarin), and also contains gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), ferulic acid, vitamins, and minerals.

Barley grass is used as an ingredient at many juice bars. In addition, natural-food stores often sell bottled juice drinks containing barley grass juice. Some stores also sell kits that allow you to grow your own barley grass for juicing

In Japan, green juices made with ingredients like young barley grass juice are known as "aojiru," and are widely consumed to enhance health. Barley grass powder (a dehydrated form of barley grass extract), barley grass capsules, and barley grass tablets are sold in many natural-food stores and in stores specializing in dietary supplements. 

Barley Grass Nutrition Facts

Three teaspoons of barley grass juice powder (5g) provide 20 calories, 2g of protein, 2g of carbohydrates, and 0g of fat. Barley juice is an excellent source of vitamin A, iron, and magnesium. The following nutritional data is from the USDA.

  • Calories: 20
  • Fat: 0g
  • Sodium:
  • Carbohydrates: 2g
  • Fiber: 0g
  • Sugars: 1g
  • Protein: 2g
  • Vitamin A: 950IU
  • Iron: 1.1mg
  • Magnesium: 25mg

Carbs

Three teaspoons of barley grass juice powder contain 2 grams of carbs, none of which comes from fiber. There is about 1 gram of natural sugars in this serving size.

Fats

Barley grass juice powder is fat-free.

Protein

Barley grass juice powder has 2 grams of protein in a three-teaspoon serving.

Vitamins and Minerals

Barley grass juice powder is particularly high in vitamin A, with 20% of your daily recommended intake (based on a 2,000 calorie diet) in only 3 teaspoons. It is also a good source of riboflavin, potassium, iron, and magnesium.

Calories

Three teaspoons of barley grass juice powder (5g) provide 20 calories, half of which come from carbs and the other half from protein.

Summary

Barley grass juice powder is an excellent source of vitamin A and also provides riboflavin, potassium, iron, and magnesium. Barley grass juice powder contains carbs and protein but no fat, and is low in calories.

Health Benefits

So far, there is very little scientific support for any claims about the health effects of barley grass, but there are some potential health benefits.

May Improve Cholesterol

Barley grass contains hexacosanol, a compound that may improve cholesterol metabolism by decreasing cholesterol synthesis.

A study published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine in 2015 investigated the effects of a barley sprout extract on lipid metabolism in healthy adults. Participants received either a barley leaf extract (in capsule form) or a placebo daily for 12 weeks.

At the study's end, there was no difference in clinical or laboratory findings (including total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol) in the barley grass group compared to the placebo group.

May Help Balance Blood Sugar

Research indicates that barley grass can help with blood sugar balance, likely due to insoluble fiber content. Insoluble fiber can help balance blood sugar by improving insulin sensitivity. More research is needed.

May Soothe the Central Nervous System

Barley grass contains the compounds GABA and glutamic acid. These may have a calming, soothing effect on the central nervous system, making it a beneficial food for aiding anxiety, relaxation, and sleep.

May Have Anti-Inflammatory Effects

Barley grass contains antioxidant enzymes that may help reduce inflammation. Chlorophyll also has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and is present in barley grass.

May Enhance Immunity

Barley grass contains polysaccharide structures that may enhance immunity by stimulating the activity of immune cells called macrophages.

Allergies

If you have allergies to barley or other cereal grains, consult your doctor before consuming barley grass juice powder.

Adverse Effects

If you have celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity, avoid any barley grass product that isn't labeled gluten-free. Keep in mind that supplements haven't been tested for safety by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration and are largely unregulated. You can get tips on using supplements here.

The high levels of certain vitamins and minerals such as potassium, vitamin K, and phosphorus may not be appropriate for people with certain conditions (such as those on dialysis) or who are taking medication (such as warfarin). 

Pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid barley grass due to the lack of research on safety. Due to a lack of scientific research on the health effects of barley grass, little is known about the safety of consuming barley grass long term or in concentrated doses.

Varieties

Barley grass juice powder may come combined with other so-called superfoods or functional food supplements to add to water, juice, smoothies, or tea. You can also buy pre-juiced fresh barley grass or grow your own barley grass to juice.

How to Prepare

Barley grass juice powder can be added to water, juice, smoothies, tea, or food such as oatmeal, yogurt, or baked goods.

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7 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Zeng Y, Pu X, Yang J, et al. Preventive and therapeutic role of functional ingredients of barley grass for chronic diseases in human beings. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2018;2018:3232080. doi:10.1155/2018/3232080

  2. Sasaki, D., Sasaki, K., Kadowaki, Y. et al. Bifidogenic and butyrogenic effects of young barely leaf extract in an in vitro human colonic microbiota modelAMB Expr. 2019;9:182. doi:10.1186/s13568-019-0911-5

  3. Barley grass juice powder, barley. FoodData Central. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Published July 30, 2020.

  4. Byun AR, Chun H, Lee J, Lee SW, Lee HS, Shim KW. Effects of a dietary supplement with barley sprout extract on blood cholesterol metabolism. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2015;2015:473056. doi:10.1155/2015/473056

  5. Takano A, Kamiya T, Tomozawa H, et al. Insoluble fiber in young barley leaf suppresses the increment of postprandial blood glucose level by increasing the digesta viscosityEvid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013;2013:137871. doi:10.1155/2013/137871

  6. U.S. Food & Drug Administration. What You Need to Know about Dietary Supplements.

  7. Kalantar-Zadeh K, Tortorici AR, Chen JL, et al. Dietary restrictions in dialysis patients: is there anything left to eat?. Semin Dial. 2015;28(2):159-68. doi:10.1111/sdi.12348

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