BARLEY: The super grain for pregnancy

3 min read

If you can recollect, I had mentioned about barley water in my previous blog ‘FIRST TRIMESTER NUTRITION: Giving your baby the best start!’ but little did I mention about its whys and hows there since Barley and It’s Benefits for pregnant moms is a topic worth of an article of it’s own. So, here we go….

Let me give you a quick introduction to BARLEY and its benefits as it might not be a commonly known grain for many of you. Even I was unaware about its benefits until just few years back. I had a severe case of food poisoning and extreme acid reflux due to the side effects of certain medicines I was prescribed to treat that, when I was told to have barley water by a Naturopath doctor whom I had met by chance and that helped me like nothing else but no, that’s not the only function….go ahead and read all of it to be amazed! It is definitely one of the most nutritious grains amongst so many others.

To describe how it tastes before proceeding further, barley water with little sugar or honey tastes just like coconut water.

Ok, so barley is actually one of the oldest consumed grains in the world!

WHY: Here’s a list of reasons you should be having it

  1. The best part is that it is lower in fat and calories as compared to other whole grains but very high in dietary fiber (1 cup gives 6gm fiber), most of which is insoluble type much needed especially during pregnancy to avoid complications due to constipation.
  2. It’s also high in B vitamins, especially B9 or folic acid that’ll help in avoiding various neural tube defects like cleft lip, spina bifida, and other congenital defects.
  3. It has high amounts of certain trace minerals like selenium which improves skin and hair health. It generally is required for people like me in this stage as I can hardly see any pregnancy glow on my face and there’s excessive hair loss due to hormonal changes. It is also rich in manganese (important for brain health), chromium, phosphorus, and many others.
  4. It’s rich in antioxidants and contains all the 8 essential amino acids!!
  5. It has diuretic properties that increase the frequency of urination, thereby eliminating the accumulation of excess fluid in the body and prevents swelling in the extremities, especially helpful from the second trimester onwards.
  6. It benefits in blood sugar level management helping you keep gestational diabetes at bay [which is a temporary problem due to the hormones going through a roller coaster ride in the body during pregnancy].
  7. The presence of copper promotes the flexibility of blood vessels, joints and bones while you are pregnant and it also helps maintain cognitive health.
  8. It helps in tissue repair and aids the growth of cells making it useful while your belly is growing at a rapid pace to accommodate the growing baby.
  9. The lactogenic properties of this wonder grain can help in production and secretion of more breast milk during the 9th month and post delivery.
  10. It prevents from gaining excess weight.

Basically, it’s a complete package!

To share an additional information that older ladies from my family always keeps telling me about barley – it prevents back pain in later months due to the presence of the sticky glutinous and starchy substance that it contains and it’s an excellent treatment for heartburn which is very commonly experienced during the third month of pregnancy (it’s like you are bound to face that issue whether you eat a masala rich, oily, spicy food or not, literally!).

HOW: Best way to consume….

Make sure you always soak it [minimum 2-4 hrs] before consumption so that it helps to unleash the nutrients and the body can absorb and use it properly. In short, it becomes bioavailable and easier to digest. This is because all whole grains contain certain antinutrients like phytic acid which bind to nutrients making them difficult to absorb.

Now, lemme share a quick recipe which can be made using either the grains left once your barley water is ready or otherwise.



  • Barley – 1/4th cup, soaked and drained
  • Yellow moong dal – ½ cup, soaked
  • Jeera – 1 tsp
  • Turmeric powder – 1/8th tsp
  • Green chilies – ½ tsp, finely chopped
  • Oil – 2 Tsp
  • Salt to taste


  • Heat oil in a pressure cooker and add cumin seeds.
  • When it starts crackling, add turmeric powder and green chilies and saute on a low flame.
  • Now add barley and yellow moong dal along with salt and 4 cups of water. Mix well and pressure cook for 2 whistles.
  • Garnish with fresh coriander leaves and serve it with curds.

I prefer grinding the leftover barley in a mixer grinder and adding that paste to my barley water making it thicker and having it. You can also choose to do that, however, the recipe that I have shared is also the kind you’ll enjoy.

So, now that you know that it may not be a grain-of-the-moment and as popular as quinoa or oats, it surely has some impressive health benefits and is a must try thing. Well, this really long description was just so that I could make sure you’ll use it once to know it yourself! 🙂

Zahra Nulwala, Dietitian, Sports Nutritionist

Zahra Nulwala, Dietitian, Sports Nutritionist

Zahra is a qualified Dietitian and a Sports Nutritionist ('Nutritionista' to her loved ones) who practices a holistic approach to health and wellness. She helps her clients to change their relationship with food into a positive one which results in having a lasting impact on their nutritional choices as well as their lives. She believes that a healthy, balanced life is a journey, not a destination and it's never late to get on board! In her own words, "Nothing tastes better than feeling great! :)"

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