Grits is a porridge-like dish made from ground corn and is a very popular dish in the Southern United States.
However, if you eat grits on a regular basis, you might be curious to find out: Are grits healthy?
In this article, I will explore some key information about grits, including the nutritional value of grits and whether grits are healthy.
Let’s get started.
What Are Grits?
Grits is a dish with a porridge-like consistency that is made from dried corn. There are a variety of different ways to cook and serve grits, making it a hugely versatile dish.
True grits are boiled and mixed with butter and milk and served all over the Southern United States.
Like all whole grains, grits have kernels with three main components: the hull, the germ, and the inner starch.
There are several types of grits that include:
Quick And Regular - Quick and regular grits are processed, meaning that the pericarp (outer shell) and germ (nutrient-dense embryo) is removed, giving the grits a longer shelf life.
Instant - Instant grits are precooked and dehydrated, and are widely available in stores. As the name suggests, they can be prepared in a couple of minutes.
Stone-ground - Made from whole corn kernels, stone-ground grits are dried and are ground in a mill. Typically speaking, it’s harder to find this type of grits in the store.
Hominy - These grits are made from corn kernels that have been soaked in a solution in order to soften the pericarp. Following this, the pericarp is then rinsed and removed, and the corn kernels are processed again to make hominy.
Are Grits Healthy?
Grits can be considered healthy. Before I get into it, let’s take a closer look at the nutritional value of grits.
One cup of cooked, regular grits contain 182 calories, 38 grams of carbs, 4 grams of protein, and 2 grams of fiber.
They are high in iron and also include a variety of vitamins, including thiamine and folate, as well as small amounts of calcium, potassium, pantothenic acid, and vitamin E.
However, it’s not as simple as saying that they are always healthy. This comes down to the fact that they are often served with high-calorie, high-fat foods that aren’t good for you in large quantities.
In addition to this, not all grits are nutritionally equal.
For instance, the processing that regular grits go through means that they don’t contain as many vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin A, vitamin C, and calcium as other varieties do.
So, when they are compared to grits that haven’t been through the same processing and that are made from whole corn kernels, many would argue that they’re not as healthy.
Bearing this in mind, grits can be healthy. However, how healthy they are will depend on certain variables such as the type of grits, how they are prepared, and what they are served with.
As a result, you should be wary of these factors when incorporating grits into your regular diet.
The Benefits Of Eating Grits
Grits aren’t just popular because they taste good. There are a variety of different health benefits associated with eating grits. These include:
They Are Naturally Gluten-Free
Grits are naturally gluten-free, making them a great carb alternative for people that suffer with celiac disease or follow a gluten-free diet.
That being said, if you do have celiac disease or struggle with a non-celiac gluten sensitivity, make sure that you read the label for any gluten contamination warnings.
They Are Packed Full Of Antioxidants
Grits contain a variety of different powerful antioxidants, including lutein, zeaxanthin, caffeic acid, syringic acid, and 4-OH benzoic acid.
The Downsides Of Eating Grits
Although there are health benefits associated with eating grits, there are also downsides that you should be aware of. These include but are not limited to:
Prepared And Served With High-Calorie Foods
Another downside of grits is that they are generally prepared and/or are served with high-calorie ingredients, such as butter, cheese, milk, syrups, and fatty bacon.
If you consume too many calorie-rich foods on a regular basis, this can lead to weight gain and health issues, such as obesity, over time.
As a result, the preparation method for grits can significantly affect the nutritional value of the dish. This is something you will need to be aware of when grits are part of your regular diet.
If you’re not willing to adapt your grits recipes, then the safest option is to only eat grits in moderation. Not only will this be better for your health, but eating them every so often will be more of a treat that you can enjoy.
Healthier Methods To Prepare Grits
If grits are a part of your diet that you want to eat on a regular basis, then there are healthier methods to prepare grits that you can try.
Tips For making Your Grits Healthier
- Try using extra olive oil as an alternative to butter when you are preparing your grits
- Try using less milk and more water or broth when you are preparing your grits
- Instead of opting for sweet syrups, try adding fresh fruit to your grits
- Try adding more vegetables to your grits
- Minimize the amount of cheese and butter that you use
As you can see above, there are multiple ways that you can make grits healthier.
If you eat grits on a regular basis, then it is important that you are mindful of how the preparation method and toppings on your grits can impact the nutritional value.
Being mindful of hidden calories and what you are putting in your body is essential to maintaining a healthy and balanced diet.
Adapting your diet doesn’t have to be an uphill battle. You can still enjoy your favorite foods by altering a few things. The great thing about grits is how versatile they are, and there are many different ways to prepare and eat them.
To make your grits slightly healthier, instead of boiling your grits with milk, you could boil them with water or broth.
It’s small changes like this that will allow you to continue eating grits without the need to completely cut them out of your diet.
Grits can be healthy, but you should be aware that the preparation method of grits can have a huge impact on their nutritional value.
If you want to eat grits on a regular basis, then choosing healthy, lower-calorie alternatives are important.
When it comes to choosing toppings, opting for fresh fruit as opposed to syrups or sugar or using water as opposed to whole milk is a good way to make grits a healthier option.