Different grains and grain products have different nutritional values. Today we’re going to compare some common grains and grain products you might find in your pantry to help decode the differences.
The comparison table below contains several grains and grain products that are common to Canadian kitchens with some relative nutritional information to allow for comparison. This chart shows that some of these products can vary greatly depending on which nutritional aspect you’re looking at.
Whole wheat flour has more protein, fat, and fibre than white flour. This is because during the milling process much of the wheat kernel is removed creating a product that is more shelf stable and more beneficial for processing. However, this also causes white flour to have less nutrition.
Nutrients and Fibre
Grain products contain more nutrients if they’re whole grains – which means they contain the kernel and the germ, giving the product more fibre and fat soluble vitamins. When choosing grains at the store, select ones that are in their whole, or nearly whole state (i.e. barley or brown rice).
All data is from the Canadian Nutrient Data File; (*) May be contamination, be sure to check the label; (-)Information not available
A note on gluten: Wheat, rye, and barley naturally contain gluten. If you have celiac disease it is important to avoid these grains and products that contain them. Oats may have come in contact with gluten during their milling process so you may need to check labels to find a gluten free variety.
In summary, include a variety of grain and grain products in your diet and try to include more whole grains. Simple switches are a great way to start: try a whole wheat pizza crust or substitute brown rice or barley for white rice. Finally, experiment with new-to-you grains like barley or wild rice.
Barley is a versatile and nutritious whole grain Canadian crop making it a staple in our kitchens.
Types of Barley
There are two types of barley, that are commonly available: pot barley and pearl barley. Pot and Pearl barley are very similar. In fact they only differ in how long they have gone through a pearling process, with pearl barley going though longer. This pearling process removes the outer bran, therefore removing some of the fibre. But don’t worry – the beneficial soluble fibre is found throughout the barley grain! Pot and pearl barley cook in about the time amount of time.
Barley flour can also be found in the grocery store and is a great supplement to regular wheat flours. It contains a lot of soluble and insoluble fibres but not a lot of gluten so it shouldn’t be substituted 1:1. Finally, barley flakes are available but you may only find them in health and bulk food stores.
You may not know this, but in Canada barley carries a health claim: Barley can reduce blood cholesterol. This health claim is based on the beta-glucans in barley, a type of soluble fibre. The claim is that 3 grams per day of beta-glucans from barley can help to lower blood cholesterol, which is a risk factor for heart disease.
On top of this health claim, the fibre in barley helps you to feel fuller, longer and gives it a great texture. Barley also contains a wide variety of nutrients including B vitamins and is low in sodium and fat.
Barley and barley products do contain gluten, which is something to avoid if you have celiac disease.
Barley is very versatile and can be used as an alternative to rice or quinoa, eaten as a pilaf, or a salad.
Barley flour can be substituted for part of the wheat flour in your recipe but should not be used to replace all of it.
For barley recipes and more information visit our Recipe Page and GoBarley.