What Are the Health Benefits of Grits Vs. Oatmeal?

Grits and oatmeal are two popular choices for a hot breakfast. Both are nutritious foods, but grits are higher in calories and carbohydrates, as well as some other nutrients. Grits and oatmeal are both whole-grain products that can be healthy, but your personal nutritional needs as well as any toppings or added ingredients that vary the nutritional information also factor into which food is preferable for you.

In some cases, you may find grits preferable to oatmeal. (Image: Jaimie Duplass/iStock/Getty Images)


If you want to reduce your daily fat intake, grits are a better choice than oatmeal. One cup of cooked grits contains just 1 gram of fat, while one cup of cooked oatmeal contains 3.5 grams. Fat is high in calories, so it can be detrimental for dieting; research from the May 2001 issue of the "International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders" also indicates that fat is less filling than other nutrients.


If you're looking for carbs, go for grits, as they are a better source of carbohydrates than oatmeal. Each cooked cup of grits provides 38 grams of carbohydrates, compared with 28 grams in a cup of cooked oatmeal. This might make grits a better choice for pre-exercise meals, because carbohydrates are your body's primary source of energy.


If you want to gain weight or muscle, consuming a surplus of calories is essential. Eating calorie-dense foods -- foods that provide more calories than other foods given the same serving size -- can help you reach your goals efficiently. One cup of cooked grits contains 182 calories, while 1 cup of cooked oatmeal contains 166. If you eat 2 cups daily, grits provide an additional 224 calories each week. On the other hand, if your goal is to lose weight, oatmeal might be a better choice.


Grits can be a better choice than oatmeal if you need to increase your folate intake. Each cup of grits provides more than five times the amount of folate in 1 cup of oatmeal. Folate, also known as folic acid, is a B vitamin that aids in the production of DNA and the health of new cells. Folate also helps prevent cancerous mutations and anemia.


Although oatmeal provides more protein than grits, grits provide higher levels of some amino acids, including leucine. Leucine is a particularly important amino acid for athletes; research from the August 2006 issue of "European Journal of Applied Physiology" suggests that leucine can improve endurance and strength.


Oatmeal is a better source of fiber than grits. Each cup of cooked oatmeal provides 4 grams of fiber, while a cup of grits provides just 2 grams. Fiber promotes satiety, can help regulate blood sugar and cholesterol levels, and promotes a healthy digestive system. The National Institutes of Health reports that the recommended daily intake of fiber for older children and adults is 20 to 35 grams, but most take in less than that amount.

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