Grits are widely popular in the southern part of the United States. They taste like tofu, but more often, they soak up the flavor of the food they are mixed with. They are made of dried and ground corn that is cooked in water or broth and blended until it reaches a thick and creamy consistency.
Grits are replete with various nutrients, making them a popular breakfast option (1). While more research is being done on their impact on human health, here, we have collated a few ways grits may add value to your diet.
Table Of Contents
What Are The Health Benefits Of Grits?
Grits are good sources of fiber, making them a good option to include in a diabetes diet. Their zeaxanthin content may help promote eye health. The lack of gluten in grits means they could be consumed by those who are sensitive to gluten.
1. May Aid Diabetes Treatment
Studies show that pure, high-quality corn grits have a lower glycemic response compared to milled rice or other varieties. This could be partly related to a better dietary fiber composition of corn grits. These grits may be more beneficial for those with diabetes (2).
However, grits could be higher in carbs. Also, grits made from non-fermented corn flour may have a low glycemic index of 90 (3). Hence, it is important to pick the right variety. Try using stone-ground grits and try cooking them with water or broth as they are healthier options.
2. May Help Boost Vision Health
Corn is one of the few food sources rich in dietary zeaxanthin, as per a report. Zeaxanthin is a major carotenoid that is thought to protect against the development of age-related macular degeneration (4).
3. May Help In Treating Anemia
Grits are a good source of iron (1). The most common form of anemia is one that is caused by iron deficiency (5). Although there is no direct research correlating grits and anemia, consuming grits may help in mitigating iron deficiency.
Iron deficiency can be prevented through food diversification, supplementation, and fortification (6). Corn grits can also be fortified with iron for better nutrition. In a rat study, the addition of 2 grams of ferric citrate to corn grits increased their content by an additional 3.1 milligrams of iron per gram of diet (7).
4. Are Gluten-Free
One major advantage of grits is that they are gluten-free. Grits belong to the same family as wheat, barley, rye, and spelt. But if you are gluten intolerant or have celiac disease, you can include corn grits in your diet (8).
These are a few major benefits of corn grits. As more research unfolds, we will have more information on how this food can help better your health.
We saw a couple of important nutrients in grits. But there is a whole range of other nutrients that you may want to look at.
What Is The Nutritional Profile Of Grits?
|Total lipid (fat)||1.75||g|
|Carbohydrate, by difference||79.09||g|
|Fiber, total dietary||4.6||g|
|Sugars, total including NLEA||0.57||g|
|Vitamin A, IU||3||IU|
|Lutein + zeaxanthin||5||µg|
|Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)||0.21||mg|
|Fatty acids, total saturated||0.34||g|
|Fatty acids, total monounsaturated||0.315||g|
|Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated||0.875||g|
Looking at this nutritional profile, it is no wonder that grits would make for a healthy breakfast or dinner. But how do you make them?
How To Prepare Grits At Home
Preparing grits at home is simple.
What You Need
- 2 cups of water
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1 ¼ cups of milk
- ½ cup of butter
- 1 cup of quick-cooking grits
- In a small pot, bring the water, salt, and milk to a boil. Stir them to a boiling mixture, continuously, until they are well mixed.
- As the mixture comes to a boil, cover it with a lid and lower the temperature. Cook for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Stir in half of the butter. Once the grits achieve a smooth consistency, you know they are done. You can serve with the remaining butter.
You can have grits as they are or try out different variations. You may mix a mashed banana into your grits and top it all with chopped walnuts. Or you may add a handful of blueberries and chopped almonds to your grits.
You can also purchase grits, either at your nearest supermarket or online.
Though grits are healthy and preparing them is simple, there is something else about them you need to keep in mind.
Do Grits Have Any Side Effects?
Grits do not have any serious side effects. But they have certain disadvantages.
They are made by a process that removes the outer skin (called pericarp) and the embryo (the germ), leaving behind the endosperm, which is the starchy component (9).
The outer skin and the embryo are loaded with nutrients. The outer skin is also a good source of fiber.
Also, since grits are served along with ingredients like milk, butter, and syrups, which are high in calories, excess intake can lead to obesity in the long run.
Using more vegetables, fruits, and extra virgin olive oil, and less cheese or butter can be a healthier way of eating grits.
Grits are delicious and nutritious and could be your go-to breakfast option. Ensure you do not have them with other high-calorie ingredients, like butter or syrups. Adding them to salads or having them with fresh veggies could be a good option.
Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions
How are grits different from polenta?
While grits belong to South American cuisine, polenta belongs to Italy. Grits are made of white corn, and polenta is made from yellow corn. Both are made from ground corn, though. Also, both are often used interchangeably and are similarly nutritious.
Are grits better with milk or water?
Grits absorb both milk and water the same. You can have them along with a half-milk-half-water combination. That way, you can cut down the calories and enjoy the nutritional goodness of milk too.
Should you rinse grits?
It does not make a lot of difference, even if you do. If you are rinsing, you can gently clean them 4 to 7 times.
Are grits bad for a low-carb diet?
Grits may not be a great option for a low-carb diet as they are comparatively high in carbs. A cup of grits (156 grams) contains about 123 grams of carbs (1).
Are grits better than oatmeal?
Both are nutritious and offer unique nutritional profiles. Oatmeal is comparatively richer in antioxidants, but instant oatmeal can come with sugar that adds unnecessary calories. Grits, however, are not made with added sugar (in most cases).
You can have each, every alternate day. Be wary of the sugar in the oatmeal. As grits are not as high in antioxidants as oatmeal, you can have them with fresh veggies.
Can grits help with weight loss?
There is no research on this. Also, grits are comparatively higher in calories and are usually taken with ingredients that could also be calorie-dense. Hence, we do not recommend you add grits to your weight loss diet.
- Cereals, corn grits, white, regular and quick, enriched, dry, US Department of Agriculture.
- Glycaemic Response to Quality Protein Maize Grits, Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Glycemic responses to maize flour stiff porridges prepared using local recipes in Malawi, Food Science and Nutrition, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Xanthophyll (lutein, zeaxanthin) content in fruits, vegetables and corn and egg products, Journal of Food Composition and Analysis, ScienceDirect.
- Iron-Deficiency Anemia, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
- Review on iron and its importance for human health, Journal of Research in Medical Sciences, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- THE INFLUENCE OF DIET ON IRON ABSORPTION, Journal of Experimental Medicine.
- Gluten-Free Diet, Celiac Disease, Center at Columbia University Medical Center.
- Effects of Different Processing Methods on the Micronutrient and Phytochemical Contents of Maize: From A to Z, Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety, Wiley Online Library.
- 7 Amazing Health Benefits Of Farro
- What Are The Differences Between Grits And Oatmeal?
- 10 Surprising Side Effects Of Corn
- 13 Amazing Benefits Of Sweet Corn For Skin And Hair
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