GRITS – NUTRITIONFACTS AND HEALTH BENEFITS

GRITS – NUTRITIONFACTS AND HEALTH BENEFITS-min

Grits are a staple dish in many homesteads across the Southern part of America. Many people love it for its delicacy and satiety property. They are also nutritious and may benefit your health.

Grits are made by first drying corn (maize), which are then ground into soft flour. It is this flour that is used in various liquids like milk, water, or broth to bring out a thick and creamy meal. Its consistency is usually porridge-like and can be eaten alone or with other foods. Despite their popularity, many people question if grits are any healthy. This is a review of grits, and this article will help you learn of its nutritional profile and health benefits.

What Are Grits?

It’s like everybody in South America knows of grits. With knowing, I mean eating. Grits are popularly and widely eaten in this part of the world. They are made from dried and ground or crushed maize. In many cases, grits are taken as breakfast or can be served as a side dish. They are made only from dent corns, a type of corn with a soft and starchy kernel. The ground floor is cooked in boiling broth, water, or milk to get a creamy fluid that has a consistency like that of porridge. To enjoy eating grits, they can be taken with cheeses, bacon, shrimp, butter, catfish, sugar, and syrups. Commercially available varieties of grits include:

Hominy:

this variety of grit is made by soaking dent corns in an alkaline solution to soften the tough outer shell or pericarp. Once fully softened, the pericarps are removed by rinsing, and the remaining corn is taken through other steps to make hominy.

Stone-ground grits:

these grits are produced by drying and grinding the whole kernel in a mill. Many don’tpeople stock this variety of grit because its shelf life is short, and cooking it may take just half to one hour.

Quick and regular:

this variety usually has a longer shelf life because they are processed in the factory and their pericarps removed.

Instant:

they are made by slightly cooking and dehydrating kernels to remove both germ and the pericarp. They are always stocked in groceries.

Nutritional Facts of Grits

Grits are nutritious as they are loaded with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) database, just 257 g of cooked grits contain 182 calories, 38 g of carbs, 4 g of protein, 1 g of fat, 2 g of fibers, 25% of the recommended daily value (RDV) for folate, 18% of the RDV for vitamin B1 (thiamine), 13% of the RDV for vitamin B3 (niacin), 12% of the RDV for vitamin B12 (riboflavin), 8% of the RDV for iron, 7% of the RDV for vitamin B6, 5% of the RDV for magnesium, 4% of the RDV for zinc, and 4% of the RDV for phosphorus. Iron found in abundance in grits is important for the formation and maturation of red blood cells. It is worth mentioning that the nutritional profile of grits may vary depending on the stages of processing they undergo. For example, regular varieties of grits contain fewer amounts of calcium and vitamin A. In contrast, stone-ground versions contain lots of vitamins and minerals.

Impressive Health Benefits of Grits

Since grits contain several nutrients, they may benefit your health in various ways.

They Are Rich In Antioxidants

Antioxidants are stable substances that protect your body against cellular damages caused by free radicals – harmful unstable molecules produced by cells during metabolism. The cells are damaged when free radicals accumulate in the body and outnumber antioxidants which leads to oxidative stress. As a result, the risk of heart disease, inflammation, and certain cancer is increased.

Antioxidants in grits are so powerful in reversing the effects of oxidative stress. They include lutein, syringic acid, zeaxanthin, caffeic acid, and 4-OH benzoic acid. Evidence indicates that zeaxanthin and lutein may help protect against cataracts and macular degeneration, which are common degenerative eye problems. Additionally, these two antioxidants can also bar UV rays from damaging your skin.

Grits are Gluten-Free

While many people may feel safe with gluten, some are not at peace with it. Gluten is a type of protein found in grains such as rye, barley, spelt, and wheat. Most people living with celiac disease or are sensitive to gluten may react severely with gluten and present with symptoms like bloating, fatigue, diarrhea, stomach pain, and constipation. Grits do not contain gluten. For this reason, it is a good alternative for carbs, especially for people who avoid gluten. It is worth noting that some manufacturers may contaminate grits with gluten when processing. So, ensure you read the label before you purchase it.

May Lower the Risk of Degenerative Eye Disorders.

As you age, vision may become a problem, and it is at this point in your life that you may easily develop cataracts or age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Zeaxanthin and lutein found in grits are powerful antioxidants that can protect your eye from these problems. Both of these antioxidants concentrate in your retina – this is where perceived light is converted into impulses that the brain can interpret. Additionally, lutein and zeaxanthin can protect your eyes against damages by blue light.

May Help Manage Anemia

Anemia is a condition in which the amount of blood, especially the red blood cells, is low to meet the oxygen demand by tissues. Your muscles won’t work properly, and you are likely to present with fatigue, lethargy, difficulty breathing, shallow breaths, pale skin, and general body malaise. Iron deficiency is the leading cause of anemia. Iron is responsible for the production and maturation of red blood cells and hemoglobin. Increasing your intake of grits may help prevent anemia. Just 257 g of grits provides 8% of the RDV for iron.

Conclusion

Grits are a popular food in South America. It is made by drying dent corn and grinding them into flour which is then cooked in hot milk, water, or broth. The resultant meal has a thick consistency like that of porridge. Grits contain several nutrients like iron and antioxidants, which help prevent anemia and cataracts, respectively.

Elena Ognivtseva

Nutritionist, Cornell University, MS I believe that nutrition science is a wonderful helper both for the preventive improvement of health and adjunctive therapy in treatment. My goal is to help people improve their health and well-being without torturing themselves with unnecessary dietary restrictions. I am a supporter of a healthy lifestyle – I play sports, cycle, and swim in the lake all year round. With my work, I have been featured in Vice, Country Living, Harrods magazine, Daily Telegraph, Grazia, Women's Health, and other media outlets.

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