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Grits: Benefits, Side Effects And Recipe

Morning breakfast is the most important part of the day. The saying "When the stomach is full, it makes no difference whether you are rich or poor" suits well here. Several high fibre foods help people feel satiated all day long and one among them are grits which are sure to fill your belly giving you a nutritious advantage as well.

So, what are grits? Ever heard of the term before?

Grits (maize) are the fine edible form of ground white corns which are prepared after drying the corns, soaking and cooking them in alkaline solution (mainly limewater), and later removing their pericarp (outer cover) to get a finer texture out of them. The process of soaking and cooking the grits is called nixtamalization while the end product is called hominy.

However, many people tend to mistake grits with polenta. Though both are the two sides of the same coin they differ in certain aspects. While grits are made of ground white corns, polenta is made from ground yellow corns and the notable difference between the two forms of corns lies in their texture.


As grits are treated with an alkaline solution, they are finer and forms a homogeneous porridge when cooked while polenta is much coarser and forms a porridge which is rough and uneven. But don't underestimate their nutritional benefits as they both are substitutes for each other.

Coming back to grits, they make for a good breakfast option and are loaded with numerous health benefits which help in treating conditions like diabetes, celiac disease, anaemia, etc.

Nutritional Value Of Grits

100 g of grits contain 351 kcal, much more than polenta and oatmeal. They also contain the following nutrients:

  • 8.11 g protein
  • 78.38 carbohydrate
  • 5.4 g fibre
  • 3.89 mg iron
  • 0.27 mg vitamin B2
  • 4.32 mg vitamin B3

Health Benefits Of Grits

1. Keep weight under control
The fibre content of grits is 5.4 g which is higher in comparison to oatmeal and other high-fibre foods. They help promote weight loss, constipation, and other digestive disorders [5] .

2. Protect against degenerative eye disorders
Grits contain two important antioxidants called lutein and zeaxanthin [1] which reduce the risk of degenerative eye disorders like cataract and age-related macular degeneration.

3. Help combat anaemia
Grits make up for a huge amount of iron [2] in the body that helps combat anaemia and other illnesses caused due to blood deficiency. They helps the body to prepare new blood cells.

4. Good for people with celiac disease
Celiac disease is marked by an immune reaction to eating gluten which causes damage to the small intestine. As grits are naturally gluten-free, people with celiac disease can consume it [3] .

Note: Check for the gluten proportion on grits packets available in the market.

5. Reduce oxidative stress
Free radicals in the body can harm the cells and cause several chronic diseases. Grits contain antioxidants like zeaxanthin, caffeic acid, syringic acid, and 4-OH benzoic acid that help prevent diseases caused due to free radicals [4] .

6. Manage diabetes
Grits have a glycemic index (GI) of 40 that makes it a diabetes-friendlyfood [5] . They keep the blood sugar level in the body under control and manages diabetes.

7. Prevent cancer
Grits contain vitamin B that helps the body produce DNA, repairs old tissues and keeps new cells healthy. This helps in preventing cancer. The amount of vitamin B in grits is much higher than oatmeal [4] .

8. Promote muscle health
Grits contain leucine (one of nine important amino acids) that helps in the growth of bone tissues and repair muscles in our body [6] . They help our body store glycogen to give muscular energy.

How Much Grits To Consume

For women, the recommended daily intake is 25 g while in men it is 38 g [6] .

Side Effects Of Grits

Though grits are good for our body, they have some side effects that need to be noted. As discussed, grits are good for people with celiac disease but in some cases, they may develop bloating, constipation, diarrhoea, and fatigue [7] .

Grits With Honey And Berries Recipe

Servings: 2

Ingredients:

  • 120 g of grits
  • 230-250 ml milk (1 cup)
  • 120-150 ml of water
  • Salt per taste
  • 7 g of unsalted butter
  • 20 ml of honey
  • 30 g of fresh berries
  • Half tablespoon pumpkin seeds

Method:

  • Take a pot and add milk, water, grits, salt and start boiling the mixture.
  • Pour honey and butter.
  • Reduce the flame to medium and cook for 20-30 minutes until the mixture becomes thick.
  • When cooked, serve in a bowl topped with berries and pumpkin seeds for added flavours.
View Article References
  1. [1] De Oliveira, G. P., & Rodriguez‐Amaya, D. B. (2007). Processed and prepared corn products as sources of lutein and zeaxanthin: Compositional variation in the food chain. Journal of Food Science, 72(1), S079-S085.
  2. [2] KINNEY, T. D., HEGSTED, D. M., & FINCH, C. A. (1949). The influence of diet on iron absorption; the pathology of iron excess. The Journal of experimental medicine, 90(2), 137–146. doi:10.1084/jem.90.2.137
  3. [3] Saturni, L., Ferretti, G., & Bacchetti, T. (2010). The gluten-free diet: safety and nutritional quality. Nutrients, 2(1), 16–34. doi:10.3390/nu20100016
  4. [4] Prasanthi, P. S., Naveena, N., Vishnuvardhana Rao, M., & Bhaskarachary, K. (2017). Compositional variability of nutrients and phytochemicals in corn after processing. Journal of food science and technology, 54(5), 1080–1090. doi:10.1007/s13197-017-2547-2
  5. [5] Panlasigui, L. N., Bayaga, C. L., Barrios, E. B., & Cochon, K. L. (2010). Glycaemic response to quality protein maize grits. Journal of nutrition and metabolism, 2010, 697842. doi:10.1155/2010/697842
  6. [6] Sarkisova, N. E., & Kirilenko, S. K. (1976). Amino acid composition and biologic value of the proteins of several sorts of buckwheat. Voprosy pitaniia, (1), 54-56.
  7. [7] Saturni, L., Ferretti, G., & Bacchetti, T. (2010). The gluten-free diet: safety and nutritional quality. Nutrients, 2(1), 16–34. doi:10.3390/nu20100016