Buckwheat and barley are both hearty, nutrient-packed grains that have been cultivated for centuries. Each has its own unique set of characteristics and benefits, making them both worthy contenders in your kitchen and diet. Below, we delve into 15 facts comparing these two grains, their nutritional profiles, culinary uses, and flavor profiles.

1. The Basics

Buckwheat isn’t technically a grain, but a pseudocereal, meaning it’s actually a seed. Despite its name, it’s not related to wheat and is gluten-free. Barley, on the other hand, is a true grain and contains gluten. It’s one of the oldest cultivated grains, dating back over 10,000 years.

2. Nutrient Profiles

Both buckwheat and barley are highly nutritious. Buckwheat is an excellent source of manganese, copper, and magnesium. Barley, meanwhile, provides an abundance of fiber, selenium, and vitamin B1.

3. Protein Content

Both grains pack a protein punch. However, buckwheat takes the lead with 13.3 grams of protein per 100 grams, compared to barley’s 9.9 grams.


4. Fiber Showdown

When it comes to dietary fiber, barley is the clear winner with 17.3 grams per 100 grams. Buckwheat, though still respectable, offers 10 grams of fiber.

5. Taste Test

Buckwheat has a robust, earthy flavor, while barley is slightly sweet with a nutty undertone. Both grains have a hearty, satisfying texture.

6. Versatility in Cooking

Both buckwheat and barley are versatile in the kitchen. Buckwheat is often ground into flour and used in pancakes, bread, and noodles, while barley is popular in soups, stews, and as a side dish.

7. Gluten-Free Status

If you have gluten sensitivity or celiac disease, buckwheat is your best bet. It’s naturally gluten-free, while barley contains gluten.

8. Digestive Health

The high fiber content of both grains contributes to digestive health. Barley, especially, contains soluble fiber which slows down digestion, aids in nutrient absorption, and helps lower cholesterol.

9. Cooking Times

Both grains require boiling and simmering until tender, but barley generally takes longer to cook than buckwheat.


10. Satiety

Both grains have a low glycemic index, meaning they release their sugars slowly into the bloodstream, providing longer-lasting energy and helping you feel full.

11. Cultural Significance

Buckwheat is a staple in many East Asian cuisines, while barley has been a mainstay in European and Middle Eastern diets for centuries.

12. Impact on Blood Sugar

Due to its high fiber content, barley has a lower glycemic index compared to other grains, making it a good choice for those managing diabetes. Buckwheat also has a moderate glycemic index and may help regulate blood sugar.

13. Weight Loss Friendly

Both grains are good choices for weight loss diets because of their high fiber content and ability to promote satiety.

14. Ancient Grains

Both buckwheat and barley are considered “ancient grains,” having been cultivated for thousands of years and largely unchanged by selective

15. Availability

While buckwheat and barley are not as ubiquitous as wheat or rice, they are becoming more readily available due to their health benefits and culinary versatility. They can be found in the grain aisle of most grocery stores, and buckwheat flour is often located in the gluten-free or baking section.

16. Sprouting

Both buckwheat and barley can be sprouted, providing a boost to their nutrient content. Sprouted grains are believed to be easier to digest and have a lower glycemic index. Buckwheat sprouts quicker than barley, usually within 1-2 days, while barley can take up to 4 days.

17. Environmental Impact

Buckwheat plants are valuable for soil health, preventing erosion, and their flowers are excellent for attracting beneficial insects. Barley, being a robust crop, can grow in a variety of climates and is thus widespread, making it a key contributor to food security.

18. Cereal or Pseudo-Cereal

Barley is a true cereal grain, belonging to the grass family. Conversely, buckwheat is a pseudo-cereal, related to rhubarb and sorrel. This makes buckwheat an excellent option for those looking to explore beyond traditional grains.

19. Versatility in Cooking

Both buckwheat and barley are versatile in cooking. Buckwheat is used to make everything from Japanese soba noodles to Russian blinis, while barley is popular in soups, stews, bread, and is the principal ingredient in malt and beer.


Both buckwheat and barley have their unique characteristics and nutritional benefits. If you’re looking for a gluten-free option, buckwheat is your go-to grain. However, if you’re searching for a fiber powerhouse, barley has the upper hand. Whichever you choose, both offer a robust flavor and satisfying texture, making them fantastic additions to your culinary repertoire.

Whether you’re exploring ancient grains for their health benefits or seeking to add variety to your dishes, buckwheat and barley are both excellent choices. Next time you’re cooking, why not substitute your usual grains with one of these nutritious alternatives? Your taste buds and your health will thank you!

Alex Bayev Photo
About me:

Hi, I'm Alex. I love to cook and bake, and I'm always looking for new recipes to try. I started this blog — to collect and share most delicious and easy recipes in one place. I remember, how many questions recipes raised to me, when I started cooking. To make sure that doesn't happen to you, I take step-by-step photos of the cooking process for every recipe so you can see how all the steps are supposed to go together, even if you're not following my recipes exactly.

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