What Are the Benefits of Eating Cornmeal?

When dried corn is ground into powder, it's referred to as cornmeal. Cornmeal is added to certain recipes, such as bread and pancakes, but it can also be cooked to make polenta or grits. It's also a good alternative to flour for people who have a gluten sensitivity or celiac disease. The food supplies a wealth of certain nutrients, too.

The Basics

A 3.5-ounce serving of cornmeal contains 384 calories and 5.88 grams of fat, of which 1 gram is saturated. The rest of the fat is in the form of heart-healthy unsaturated fats. More impressive is the about 10 grams of protein in that portion of cornmeal. This amount translates to 22 percent of the 46 grams of protein women need in their daily diets and 18 percent of the 56 grams men should have each day. Cornmeal doesn't contain any cholesterol.

An Excellent Source of Fiber

Cornmeal contains 9.4 grams of fiber in each 3.5-ounce serving. That's 38 percent of the 25 grams of fiber women need each day and 25 percent of the 38 grams men should include in their daily diets. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, getting adequate amounts of fiber can be helpful in cutting your risk of heart disease, diabetes and obesity.

Iron, Zinc, Niacin and More

Three and a half ounces of cornmeal supplies about 3 milligrams of iron, which is 38 percent of the 8 milligrams men need each day and 17 percent of the 18 milligrams women require daily. Iron is essential for healthy red blood cells and keeps your immune system healthy as well. That same portion delivers 3.1 milligrams of zinc, which is 39 percent of the 8 milligrams women need each day and 28 percent of the 11 milligrams men require. Zinc enables your body to heal from injuries. You'll also get about 2.5 milligrams of niacin, out of the 14 to 16 milligrams women and men, respectively, require daily, as well as potassium, phosphorus and magnesium.

Including Cornmeal in Your Diet

Cook cornmeal with water as a quick and easy way to make a nutritious breakfast that's often called grits. Drizzle the cooked cornmeal with honey and scatter chopped nuts on top to add protein, fiber and vitamin E to the food. Make a more savory version, which is often referred to as polenta, by stirring in sun-dried tomatoes and roasted red bell peppers. You might also try replacing the usual breadcrumbs for chicken or eggplant parmesan with cornmeal, which is also a good option for people who eat gluten-free diets since cornmeal doesn't contain gluten.

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