Since the advent of agriculture, man has been “improving” grain crops to make them starchier, sweeter, less perishable, and easier to grow and to harvest. Now that we are seeing the consequences, scientists are starting to reverse-engineer some food crops to more closely resemble their ancient ancestors. Sustagrain barley is one of the first to become available to the consumer.

For comparison, General Mills has been advertising that Cheerios® have been “proven to reduce cholesterol,” based on the amount of soluble fiber they contain. The following fiqures are based on a ¾ cup (22.5 grams raw weight) serving of Sustagrain and a ¾ cup (22.5 grams) serving of whole-grain Cheerios. Note that the numbers below are for plain Cherrios, not the sweetened ones:

22.5 grams of plain Cherrios (¾ cup) have:
14 net grams of carbohydrate
2.5 grams total fiber
0.75 grams of soluble fiber

22.5 grams of Sustagrain barley flakes (about ¾ cup cooked) have:
7 net grams of carbohydrate
7 grams total fiber
2.5 grams of soluble fiber

Sustagrain barley is a natural, waxy, hulless variety that was developed through a conventional breeding program at Montana State University. It is available as flour, thick or quick-cooking flakes, steel-cut and whole kernel, all of which are whole grains.

Sustigrain barley flour and flakes can be used instead of oat flour or oatmeal in cooking and baking. It is currently only available for home use from The King Arthur Flour Company, but it is being used as an ingredient in many commercial products.

More information about Sustagrain barley can be found online at:

Here’s a quote from Elizabeth A. Arndt, ConAgra Foods:
“Sustagrain barley has a unique carbohydrate distribution, with at least 30% dietary fiber and only 30% starch, which is 2-3 times the amount of fiber and approximately half the starch compared with other common cereal grains. Approximately half of the dietary fiber is beta-glucan.”

Check out this great bread made with Sustagrain barley flour–WOW! Here’s a challenge for you: if anyone out there can convert this formula to a home-cook, user-friendly version, I would LOVE to see it. Here’s the link to the article:

A second post with additional info is here (BTW a poolish is a sour dough starter.):
(C) 2009, Judy Barnes Baker

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Judy Barnes Baker

The working title for my first book was, “You’ll Never Know What You Are Missing.” It summed up my goal: to make eating for health synonymous with eating for pleasure. Once you discover the secret, you will find that the very best food for weight management, longevity, the treatment and prevention of disease, and over-all health and happiness is also the most sumptuous, satisfying, and indulgent way of eating the world has to offer. You are invited to the feast. Enjoy!
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Judy Barnes Baker
12 years ago

Hi Chickladey.

I do have a good recipe for barley bannock bread in the new book, but it's a more rustic loaf, not much like a good bagette. Glen at LC Foods has developed some special low carb flours that make good bread, but they are wheat and gluten based, not made with barley.

I know the KAF sustagrain is expensive, especially after paying shipping, but I think it is still the only way to get it retail. If it sells well, they will probably start offering it in stores. I really like the barley flakes too, which are like oatmeal. I don't eat it often, so it lasts a long time.

12 years ago

Hi Judy. I realise this is a 3 year old blog, but what the heck! I've been looking to switch up the wheat in our bread to barley, and found you 🙂 I've seen the barley flour at KAF, but at that high a price….ouch! I just found waxy hulless barley flour at Western Trail foods and ordered from them. Looks like it's almost as high as the sustagrain, definitely higher that the red mill and arrowhead(?) brands that I found on amazon.
So I'm guessing you've never converted the bread recipe? I looked around, but sometimes I miss stuff that's right in front of my nose. Anyway, If I come up with something good in the meantime, I'll let you know.

14 years ago

At this point, I'm skeptical and think anything ConAgra comes up with is probably great for their bottom line, but perhaps not so great for me. I'd rather be grainless.

Even in this reversed engineered form, barley is still a gluten-containing grain and many people are sensitive to gluten, especially when industrially prepared.

14 years ago

Very interesting, Judy! I will have to look at those links soon – so busy this end! 🙂