In order to answer are grits healthy or not, we first need to know what grits are. Grits is a popular dish that is a staple across the southern states of the US. It is prepared both in a savory and sweet form and is a common breakfast option in most southern states of America.
It is a porridge-like dish in its consistency that is prepared with dried, ground corn or maize. The dried corn is cooked along with water or milk or any type of broth till its consistency becomes similar to cooked oats. You can serve grits in a sweet way by pairing them with butter, maple syrup, or sugar. Or you can also prepare it as a savory item that can be served along with cheese, bacon, or even shrimp!
Given that people pair grits with such food items, one question pops up in our minds- Are grits healthy?
Let us look at this southern signature dish to understand whether it is a food item we should be alternating our usual breakfast with.
Nutritional Content – Are Grits Healthy?
The best way to look at are grits healthy or not is by studying their nutritional value. Since grits are prepared from ground corn, it is a rich source of a wide variety of vitamins and minerals and comes loaded with many vital antioxidants.
One cup of grits is a source of the following nutrients, to name a few:
- Vitamin B
Grits are a good source of iron as well as B vitamins like Folate and Thiamine. This makes grits a very healthy dish.
5 Benefits of Grits
Are grits healthy can be best understood when you look at the numerous benefits grits have for your body’s overall well-being and functioning?
The key benefits of Grits include the following:
#1 Grits are packed with antioxidants
Antioxidants are those substances that protect the cells of the human body against free radical damage. These free radicals are what are responsible for chronic medical conditions like cancers and cardiac diseases.
Are grits healthy, and does their consumption protect the body against these diseases?
Grits contain extremely powerful varieties of antioxidants like 4-Oh benzoic acid and zeaxanthin, to name a few, making their consumption very healthy for the body.
#2 Grits are gluten-free
Glutens are a type of protein that is found in grains like rye, wheat, and barley. People with gluten sensitivity experience many side effects when they consume gluten-based food items.
In such a case, as a gluten-sensitive individual or as someone who is health-conscious, you may wonder are grits healthy or not?
Grits are naturally gluten-free and are a suitable alternative for people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.
#3 Grits help fight conditions like anemia
Anemia is a condition in which the muscles and tissues of our body do not receive enough oxygen and therefore stop functioning in an effective manner. People with anemia are usually advised to follow a particular diet. In such a case, as an anemic, you might want to know, are grits healthy and safe for consumption?
Grits are a rich source of plant-based iron and contain folates in a high amount- making them a suitable alternative to your regular breakfast cereals. Anemia is usually a result of iron and folate deficiency in the body; hence, grits can help one combat anemia.
#4 Grits help in dealing with eye disorders like cataract
Consumption of grits has also proven to be beneficial in improving one’s vision and eye health. Degenerative conditions like cataracts are a common occurrence with old age. Grits contain potent antioxidants like lutein and zeaxanthin that protect the eyes from any damage.
#5 Grits help with type II diabetes
Are grits healthy for someone who has type II diabetes? The answer to this is yes, it is!
Unlike other breakfast cereals like oats, grits naturally contain less amount of sugar it. It is an ideal breakfast choice for a person with diabetes when consumed as a savory dish. The high fiber content of grits helps in keeping the sugar levels of the body in control.
Check out what Larry David consumes for his breakfast.
Types of Grits
Not every version of this famous southern dish is as healthy as the other. The corn used to prepare grits is available in the market in many varieties. The most commonly consumed ones include-
Stone-ground grits are made from dried corn that is coarsely ground in a mill. They are the least processed type of grits available in the market, making it the most nutritious. Given the fact that they are coarsely ground, most of their nutritional content remains intact. However, owing to the fact that stone-ground grits are the least processed, they have a shorter shelf life comparatively.
Quick or regular grits are processed forms of grits. The pericarp or hull of this variant is removed, and the corn is ground into a very fine form. The processed nature of the quick variant lends it a long shelf life but rids it of many essential nutrients.
You may wonder are grits healthy or not if they are made from the quick corn variant. The answer to this is yes; they remain a healthy source of essential vitamins and minerals.
This variant is soaked in an alkali solution first so that the shell or the pericarp softens. The corn is then thoroughly rinsed, removed, and processed to create hominy. Removing the hull or the pericarp, however, rids the corn of its high fiber content.
Are grits healthy when made from hominy? Even though the high fiber content is lost because of the soaking, hominy is still a healthy version of grits.
Just as the name suggests, the instant variant of grits is like a ready-to-eat food packet. The corn is processed, precooked, and then dehydrated before getting packaged in boxes. All one has to do is add boiling water or milk into this concoction before consuming it. However, most of the nutrients are lost as a result of intensive processing.
Are grits healthy when consumed in an instant form? With its low nutritional value, the instant variant is probably the least healthy variant of grits that one can consume.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q1. What are some of the healthy ways in which one can cook grits?
Grits are usually served along with sugary syrup or with meats like bacon or shrimp. However, the calorie-conscious often wonder are grits healthy when they are paired with these items. The nutritional value of grits remains unaffected; however, the calorie count increases due to the way it is prepared.
A few healthy ways to cook grits include the following-
- To pair grits with fruits like bananas or berries. Fruits are the best source of natural sugar and can be paired with grits as a sugary breakfast dish. You can also alternate sugar use in the preparation with honey.
- Instead of using butter to make grits, you can also use olive oil. Olive oil is a much healthier way of cooking grits because of its numerous benefits.
- When making a savory version of grits, you can add a lot of seasonal vegetables to it to make it all the more nutritious and healthy.
Q2. Are grits healthy or oatmeal?
There has been an ongoing debate about whether grits are healthier than oatmeal or not. Oatmeal is prepared from harvested oats and is a high fiber-low calorie dish. However, because people cook it using a lot of sugar and spice, the calorie content in oatmeal rises. Grits, at the same time being made from corn kernels, are naturally low in their sugar content and high in nutritional value.
Oats are widely available, whereas grits, being a local staple of the southern states, are a little more difficult to procure everywhere. However, from the point of view of a health-conscious individual, grits and oatmeal are both healthy choices that one can include in one’s daily diet.
Grits are an easy to prepare and extremely versatile dish. What originated as a southern American dish is now consumed throughout the states as a breakfast dish by the calorie-conscious. Grits is a highly healthy food dish that can be included in your diets when prepared in the right way.
To gain the most from the benefits of grits, it is best to pair it with healthier choices like fruits and vegetables instead of going overboard with butter and cheese. To derive the highest nutritional value from this dish, it is ideal to select the stone-ground grits and prepare them in a simple way with fresh fruits and vegetables!