Grits nutrition facts Grits contain a variety of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. One cup (257 grams) of cooked, regular grits provides the following nutrients (4): Calories: 182Protein: 4 gramsFat: 1 gramCarbs: 38 gramsFiber: 2 gramsFolate: 25% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI)Thiamine: 18% of the RDINiacin: 13% of the RDIRiboflavin: 12% of the RDIIron: 8% of the RDIVitamin B6: 7% of the RDIMagnesium: 5% of the RDIZinc: 4% of the RDIPhosphorus: 4% of the RDI What’s most impressive about grits is that they’re high in iron, which is essential for red blood cell production. They also include many B vitamins, such as folate and thiamine, as well as trace amounts of potassium, pantothenic acid, calcium, and vitamin E (5Trusted Source). However, regular versions contain fewer vitamins and minerals — like calcium and vitamins A and C — than the stone-ground varieties made from whole corn kernels (4). That’s because they undergo several stages of processing, which removes nutritious parts of the corn like the pericarp and germ (2). SUMMARY
Grits provide a variety of nutrients and are especially high in iron and B vitamins. Stone-ground varieties are more nutritious, as they don’t have the pericarp and germ removed. Health benefits of grits Because grits are highly nutritious, eating them may offer some impressive health benefits. Pack a variety of antioxidants Antioxidants are substances that protect your cells against free radical damage. Free radicals are highly reactive molecules that can interact with your cells and cause damage that has been linked to chronic conditions, including heart disease and certain cancers (6Trusted Source). Grits contain powerful antioxidants — including lutein, zeaxanthin, caffeic acid, 4-OH benzoic acid, and syringic acid — which have been linked to powerful health benefits (7Trusted Source). For example, human studies show that the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin may protect against degenerative eye disorders like cataracts and may protect your skin from sun damage (8Trusted Source, 9Trusted Source, 10Trusted Source). Naturally gluten-free Gluten is a family of proteins found in grains like wheat, barley, spelt, and rye. Most people can eat gluten-based foods without adverse effects. However, people with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity may experience side effects, such as bloating, diarrhea, constipation, stomach pain, and fatigue (11Trusted Source, 12Trusted Source). Grits are naturally gluten-free, which means they’re a suitable carb alternative for people who have to avoid this family of proteins. Still, if you have celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, read the label for warnings of gluten contamination. Some manufacturers process corn in the same facilities as gluten-based products. May protect against degenerative eye disorders Grits contain lutein and zeaxanthin — important antioxidants for eye health. Both are found in high concentrations inside the retina — the part of your eye that converts light into signals your brain can understand (13Trusted Source). Several human studies link higher lutein and zeaxanthin intake to a lower risk of degenerative eye disorders, such as cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD) (9Trusted Source, 10Trusted Source). What’s more, these antioxidants may protect your eyes against damage by potentially harmful blue light (14Trusted Source). Blue-wavelength light helps your body know it’s daytime by suppressing the production of melatonin — a hormone that helps your body relax so it can get deep sleep. However, too much blue-wavelength light exposure can damage the cornea — your eye’s outermost layer (15Trusted Source). May help combat anemia Anemia is a condition in which your muscles and tissues don’t receive enough oxygen to work effectively. Symptoms include fatigue, pale skin, and shortness of breath (16Trusted Source). A common cause of anemia is iron deficiency. Without iron, your body cannot make enough hemoglobin — a substance that helps red blood cells carry oxygen (17Trusted Source). Grits may help protect against iron-deficiency anemia. They’re a great source of plant-based iron, with one cup (257 grams) providing around 8% of the RDI (4). A folate deficiency can also cause anemia, as folate helps your body make red blood cells. Grits are packed with folate — offering 25% of the RDI per cup (257 grams) (4, 18Trusted Source). SUMMARY
Grits may help combat anemia and protect against several degenerative eye disorders. They’re also naturally gluten-free and a good source of antioxidants.
Healthier ways to prepare grits Though grits are typically paired with calorie-rich ingredients, you can prepare them in many healthier ways. Here are a few tips to make your grits healthier: Use less cheese and butter.Use extra virgin olive oil instead of butter. Add more vegetables.Add fresh fruit instead of sugar or sweet syrups. Use less milk and more water or broth.
Written by Ryan Raman, MS, RD on April 5, 2019 Healthy Grits with Shrimp
(substitute chicken or steak if you are allergic to shellfish or prefer fish) This healthy seafood dish is delicious — yet low in calories. Servings: 4 1 cup (240 grams) of stone-ground grits, dry2 cups (470 ml) of water2 cups (470 ml) of chicken broth1/2 cup (60 grams) of cheddar cheese, grated1 cup (150 grams) of chopped onion2 teaspoons of minced garlic4 tablespoons (60 ml) of lemon juice1 teaspoon of salt1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper1 teaspoon of paprika3 tablespoons (45 grams) of unsalted butter or 3 tablespoons (45 ml) of olive oil1 pound (450 grams) of raw shrimp, peeled and deveinedOptional: thinly sliced green onions, for garnishIn a large pot, add water, broth, salt, pepper, and grits. Bring to a boil.Stir in the butter or oil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and let cook for 20–30 minutes, or until thick and creamy.Remove from heat, add cheese, and stir thoroughly.Rinse the shrimp, pat dry, and pan fry until they turn pink. Add onions, lemon juice, garlic, and paprika, and sauté for 3 minutes.Ladle the grits into a serving bowl. Spoon the shrimp on top and serve warm. Top with fresh herbs like scallions or parsley and serve alongside vegetables, such as zucchini for an even healthier meal.