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What's the Deal With: Barley Malt

What's the Deal With: Barley Malt

Many health food companies try to avoid adding refined sugar to their products, so they use natural sugar substitutes instead. Stevia, brown rice syrup, evaporated cane juice, and agave nectar are a few examples, but I have also seen barley malt in lists of ingredients. It's often used in cereals, granola bars, mixes, sauces, and baked goods.

Barley malt is made from sprouted barley. It's thick, dark, and has a mellow malt flavor. It's a favorite of health food companies because it's considered a slow-digesting sweetener. It also has half the sweetness of refined sugar, so it's great to use in your own kitchen and to make breads, sauces, veggie dishes, and, of course, home-brewed beer. To see how it compares to sugar


When substituting barley malt for refined white or brown sugar, use 1 1/3 cups of barley malt for 1 cup of sugar, and reduce the liquid in the recipe by about 1/4 cup. You can also add 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda for each cup of barley malt used in your baked goods to make them less dense.

Honestly though, both sugar and barley malt are high on the glycemic index, meaning they enter and leave your bloodstream quickly, so they're not exactly healthy for you. Even though barley malt is made from a grain, it's still a sweetener and it affects your body in the same way as sugar. Keep this in mind when thinking about this and other sugar substitutes.

Fit's Tips: Since this sweetener is derived from barley, people with celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity should avoid it.

1 tbsp White Sugar 1 tbsp Barley Malt
Calories 46 60
Total Fat 0g 0g
Cholesterol 0mg 0mg
Sodium 0mg 0mg
Carbs 12g 14g
Fiber 0g 0g
Sugar 12g 8g
Protein 0g 1g
Potassium 0mg 65mg


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