Both oats and barley contain a diverse array of nutrients that support good health and serve as a valuable source of protein and fiber. They contain many vitamins and minerals, the most abundant of which are manganese, phosphorus, zinc, and serval groups of the vitamin B complex.
Unlike manganese and phosphorus, the human body is not able to store sufficient quantities of zinc. This is why it is important to get a constant supply of zinc in your daily diet. Zinc plays a dynamic role in the human body by aiding in many processes like metabolism, digestion, and the immune function of cells. Like zinc, phosphorus has many uses throughout the body, but about 85% of your body’s phosphorus can be found in the bones. Phosphorus levels play an important role in bone health and strength.
Oats are particularly rich in manganese, an essential trace mineral that supports metabolism, growth, cardiovascular health, and many other systems in the body. Studies have shown that people with diabetes often have a much lower manganese level than non-diabetics, which may indicate it’s use in managing blood sugar levels. Manganese is also an important component to enzymes and antioxidants, compounds that prevent DNA damage from free radicals.
Vitamin B complex is composed of eight individual vitamins, each termed vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B3, vitamin B5, and so on. Oats and barley provide an abundant supply of many B vitamins, the most prominent of which are vitamin B1 and vitamin B5. These vitamins help with metabolism and energy levels, so those deficient in them may experience tiredness among other symptoms. Most people get their B vitamins through animal products, so vegans and vegetarians need to ensure they’re getting a sufficient supply of B vitamins in their diet.
Oats and barley also serve as good sources of protein, another nutrient often found in meats and a major concern for those on plant-based diets. When considering fitness and weight loss, high protein and high fiber diets may also be beneficial. Studies have shown that fiber helps to curb appetite and increase satisfaction. Fiber also helps you maintain a healthy digestive tract, reduce the risk of certain cancers found in the digestive system, and control blood sugar levels.
A study done on overweight women found that both oats and barley reduced their natural blood sugar peak after meal consumption. Oats and barley have also been studied as potential functional foods, meaning they may have health benefits beyond their basic nutritional value.