Are Grits Fattening?

Just in case you weren’t already aware, grits are a really popular Southern US dish that consists of dried ground corn which is then cooked in a variety of different liquids such as broth, milk, or water.

Are Grits Fattening?

When mixed with these liquids, it takes on a really creamy and thick consistency which is quite porridge-like. 

Now, you may know exactly what grits are. What you may be unsure about is whether or not they are fattening.

Well, we’ve got all the answers in this article, including whether or not grits are fattening and what the overall nutritional value of this popular dish is. 

Grits Nutrition Facts

Grits are pretty packed full of nutrients and contain little fat content. So no, grits alone are not a very fattening product.

The following information is based upon one cup of regular cooked grits: 

  • Calories – 182
  • Protein – 4g
  • Fat – 1g 
  • Carbohydrates – 38g 
  • Fiber – 2g
  • Folate – 25% of the RDI (reference daily intake)
  • Thiamine – 18% of the RDI 
  • Niacin – 13% of the RDI
  • Riboflavin – 12% of the RDI 
  • Iron – 8% of the RDI
  • Vitamin B6 – 7% of the RDI 
  • Magnesium – 5% of the RDI 
  • Zinc – 4% of the RDI 
  • Phosphorus – 4% of the RDI 

As you can see, there really isn’t all that much fat at all in grits, but what there are tons of is iron, B vitamins as well as many other ingredients that are great for your body.

However, you can get different types of grits and some do tend to be more vitamin and mineral-packed than others. 

Health Benefits Of Grits

Grits as you can see, are not a massively fattening product to be eating and actually, there are loads of benefits to eating grits as you’ll see below: 

  • Antioxidants – Grits are packed with tons of different types of antioxidants. And this is good because antioxidants protect the cells in your body against free radical damage. And free radical damage is linked to many chronic conditions such as heart disease and some forms of cancer. 
  • Naturally Gluten-Free – Good news for those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, grits are naturally gluten-free and so are a great way to consume an alternative carb substitution without any side effects. However, I would always recommend checking the labels on grits in case of any gluten cross-contamination where they are manufactured. 
  • May Protect Against Degenerative Eye Disorders – Both zeaxanthin and lutein are essential eye health antioxidants that are ingredients in grits. There is some evidence that these antioxidants can protect against blue light, as well as cataracts and AMD (age-related macular degeneration.) 

When Might Grits Become Fattening? 

Are Grits Fattening?

While there are many plentiful benefits from grits, there are also, of course, some issues.

The main real problem with grits is that in most cases you won’t get as much of the goodness in the quick or instant versions of grits. 

This is because these types of grits are often made through a process where the corn kernel pericarp and the germ are removed.

And these are the parts that hold most of the goodness – these are the areas of the grit that hold most of the nutrients.

As an example, instant grits do not contain anywhere near as much fiber in them.

And since fiber is linked to improved digestion, is what keeps you feeling full, lowers blood cholesterol, and aids weight loss, you’re not really going to want to lose that nutrition. 

So you’ll want to stick to stone-ground versions where you can, but these can be quite difficult to get a hold of sometimes. 

And then your main issue, is that while grits in themselves are really not that fattening, they do tend to get paired with very rich and fatty flavors.

And this can exponentially increase the fat content of your meal. 

So what was once low in fat is now incredibly high. Ingredients such as milk, cheese, butter, bacon, syrups, and fried catfish are common complementary ingredients for grits.

And all of which can be high in calories and fat content. Eating too much of these foods can lead to an increase in weight, as well as obesity-related health problems such as heart disease. 

So while the grits themselves are not that fattening, the additional ingredients used to make them taste appealing can be.

So it is important to try and balance flavor and health respectively. 

Tips For Preparing Healthier Grits

  • Try to reduce the amount of cheese and butter you use
  • Swap butter for extra virgin olive oil
  • Add in some veggies
  • Opt for fresh fruit over sugar and syrups
  • Lower the amount of milk you use and increase the broth or water. 

Final Thoughts

So are grits fattening? The answer really depends on how they are cooked and made.

If you were to eat stone-ground grits with minimal extra ingredients and flavorings, then no, not at all. In fact, grits are packed to the brim with nutrients and goodness for your body.

I couldn’t recommend eating them like this enough, and you will certainly feel better for it. 

However, it can not really be ignored that grits do not tend to be prepared in that manner.

And actually, in most cases, we’re using instant or quick grits that have had much of the goodness processed out of them.

And then we’re mixing them with plenty of fatty foods such as milk, cheese, syrup, bacon, and many other processed or fried meats.

And in this case, the meal itself is going to be plenty fatty, even if the grits specifically themselves are not. 

Overall though, I do believe that grits are a good choice as part of a healthy balanced meal, so long as you are choosing healthier, lower calorie options to flavor them.

Stick to stone-ground grits and add some fruit and honey, and a little less milk and a little more water for a perfectly healthy treat. 

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Jenna Priestly
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