The Reason You May Want To Avoid Instant Grits

Whether you prefer your comforting creamy grits in the morning alongside eggs and bacon or in the evening acting as a fluffy bed to seafood in shrimp and grits, this versatile ingredient is a Southern staple and hearty component to many meals. According to NPR, grits were originally only eaten by the poor, but now they can be found on fine dining menus.

Let's talk about their nutrition because while they may be good to you, are they good for you? According to WebMD, the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants found in ground corn help reduce cell damage, which can lower your risk of heart disease, type II diabetes, and certain types of cancers. However, to get these health benefits, the grains must be whole. Not all types of grits have whole grains. For instance, stone-ground grits are considered whole grains because they are made from the corn kernel, the germ, and the hull, all of which are ground into the mix without further processing. Because they're in such a pure form, they take longer to cook and have a shorter shelf life. On the other hand, hominy is not considered a whole grain because the hull has been removed, leaving the starch's germ. While the germ provides nutrients, the lack of a hull reduces its fiber content, which according to Harvard's School of Public Health, is good for blood sugar regulation and satiety. However, there is an even worse offender in terms of nutrition, and that's instant grits. 

It lacks flavor, texture, and nutrients

Before we get into instant grits, it's important to understand the term "quick grits." It starts with regular grits, which are stripped of their hull and germ through processing, leaving the inner starch to work with (via WebMD). From there, the grits are ground very fine, which helps them cook quicker. Quick grits are then precooked and dehydrated, which is why they can be quickly recooked as instant grits. However, because of the many levels of processing, instant grits lack not only the nutrients of ground whole corn, but also their flavor and texture.

According to Bon Appétit, reaching for instant grits to incorporate into a dish can even reduce its quality because they can often come out mushy or slimy. The words "instant" are a tell-tell sign that the product is highly processed. Instead, the bulk bins at the grocery store are typically where the healthiest and texturally complex grits are. When you're planning to pick some up, remember that the coarser the grits are ground, the better they are.