Wheat and barley both belong to the same scientific family, known as Poaceae, but differ in genus and species. Wheat and barley, known as cereal grains, were among the first domesticated grains in history.
Both grains contain similar amounts of calories, fat, carbohydrates, protein and sodium, but they vary in vitamin and mineral content. Barley has a more pronounced, nutty flavor, while wheat tastes somewhat bland. In the kitchen, barley is easier to work with because it can be cooked in whole form, like rice. Wheat, which is much harder, must be milled or cooked under pressure to be edible. Since both grains contain gluten, they should be avoided by anyone with a gluten intolerance or allergy.