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Cornmeal – A Meal Full of Nutrients

Corn-based foods such as poppers, cornmeal, and grits are from dried and crushed corn kernels. Cornmeal includes more carbs and several vitamins and minerals than other corn-based meals. You can also use cornmeal to make polenta, bread, fritters, and other recipes. In addition, it is a gluten-free diet alternative with possible benefits for cardiovascular health and digestion.

Cornmeal is a coarse flour made out of dried corn or maise. It is ground to fine, medium, and coarse textures but is not as refined as wheat flour. Cornflour is the name given to finely ground cornmeal in the United States. Also, refined cornmeal is made from maize. The maize goes through treatment in an alkaline medium, such as limewater, which is used to make tortillas and tamales. 

Boiling cornmeal is called polenta in Italy and is a staple dish or bread alternative in Romania. Cornmeal was traditionally created by stone grinding the kernels while preserving part of the shell and germ. Because of the high-fat content, it is more perishable. On the other hand, cornmeal is significantly more nutritious. These days corn grinding happens with steel rollers, which remove most of the husks and germ.

Cornmeal can be yellow or white, depending on the variety of maise. Oil, vitamins, fibrous hulls, and starchy endosperm are all in whole-grain cornmeal. It has double the nutrients of determined cornmeal and promotes a rich and full flavour. However, whole-grain cornmeal becomes rancid rapidly due to its high oil content.

Types of Cornmeal

There are different types of cornmeal, depending on the types of corn. For example, white cornmeal is from white corn, and yellow cornmeal is from yellow corn.

Blue cornmeal: It is mild blue or violet. It’s miles from whole blue corn and has a candy flavour. The cornmeal includes dried corn kernels which have been ground right into an excellent or medium texture.Metallic-ground yellow cornmeal: It is common within the U.S. The husk and germ of the maize kernel get removed. It’s stored for approximately 12 months if kept in a hermetic field in a groovy, dry vicinity.Stone-ground cornmeal: Keeps a number of the hull and germ, lending a more excellent flavour and vitamins to recipes. It is more perishable and will stay longer if refrigerated. However, it can also have a shelf lifestyle of many months if kept in a reasonably cool location.White cornmeal (mielie-meal): It is made from white corn and is not uncommon in parts of Africa. It is also popular in the southern U.S. for making cornbread.

Cornmeal vs Cornstarch vs Corn Flour: What’s the Difference?

In the U.K and Europe, cornflour is known as cornstarch. In the United States, cornmeal, cornstarch, and cornflour are different corn products. The differences include:

Processing: Cornmeal and corn flour are whole grain flours grounded from whole corn kernels. On the other hand, cornstarch is from the endosperm of the corn kernel.Texture: Cornmeal is coarse, while corn flour is fine. Cornstarch is somewhat powdery in texture.Taste: Cornmeal and corn flour are grounded forms of the whole corn kernel, so both have a pronounced corn flavour. Cornstarch is the grounded form of a flavourless kernel part, so it has no taste. That is why it is ideal as a thickening agent.Uses: After boiled in water, one can eat cornmeal as a meal in itself. For example, you can use cornmeal while baking a loaf of bread or pastry. In addition, cornflour is primarily for baking, and cornstarch is for thickening sauces and soups.Nutrients: Cornmeal and corn flour are whole grain flour. Both contain protein, fibre, carbohydrates, potassium, and starch. Cornstarch is the grounded form of the endosperm, so most nutrients are removed. It is primarily composed of carbohydrates and has a high starch content.

Can You Substitute Cornstarch, Corn Flour, and Cornmeal?

Cornstarch, cornflour, and cornmeal are all grounded from the same ingredient, but generally, you should not interchangeably use these products. There is one exception: you can substitute corn flour for cornmeal in chess pie filling. In baking, corn flour and cornmeal produce different textures for the finished bread or cake.

Nutrition Facts of Cornmeal

As per USDA, 100 grams of cornmeal serving contains:

Calories: 370 kcalCarbohydrates: 79.4 gFat: 1.75 gProtein: 7.11 gFibre: 3.9 gSugar: 1.61 gStarch: 73.3 g

Vitamins and Minerals

Cornmeal also contains a fair amount of vitamins and minerals.

Potassium: 142 mgCalcium: 3 gIron: 1.1 mgMagnesium: 32 mgPhosphorus: 99 mgSodium: 7 mgSelenium: 10.5 ugNiacin: 1 mgFolate: 30 gCholine: 8.6 mgVitamin A: 11 ugVitamin E: 0.12 mg

The HealthifyMe Note

Whole-grain cornmeal is a rich source of thiamin and magnesium. However, it also contains selenium in it. Cornmeal products made from dried corn, such as grits, polenta, and masa flour, are also a rich source of vitamin B6 and folate. 

Health Benefits of Cornmeal

Improves Heart Health 

Cornmeal is rich in potassium. Potassium helps smooth blood flow through the arteries, regulating muscle construction in the heart. Thus, it regulates your heart rate and blood pressure. 

High levels of bad cholesterol cause various cardiovascular diseases. These diseases are heart attack, stroke etc. However, studies show that dietary fibre and selenium in cornmeal help reduce cholesterol. It happens because fibre binds the cholesterol and carries it out of the body, and selenium acts as an antioxidant. 

Helps Support Healthy Bowel Movements

The dietary fibre in cornmeal helps in improving bowel movements. Also, our stool becomes softened as water in the intestine gets absorbed due to dietary fibre. As a result, the stool passes smoothly due to water absorption. Thus, fibre-rich foods like cornmeal prevent constipation. 

Cornmeal also improves gut health by fostering good bacteria in the body. In addition, studies have suggested that cornmeal prevents infections and inflammation by improving immunity.

May Help Prevent Obesity

Cornmeal is effective in obesity prevention. Cornmeal is rich in dietary fibre, essential for the digestion of food. Fibre keeps one full for long hours and increases satiety. Therefore, it helps in preventing obesity.

Cornmeal is a dense source of protein. Studies suggest that proteins are great for boosting your metabolism. Thus, consuming cornmeal can help prevent obesity.

Improves Bone Health

Cornmeal has a very high mineral content. It includes phosphorus, manganese, and magnesium. Research suggests that calcium and phosphorus are essential nutrients for healthy bones. They improve bone density and prevent fractures by forming a robust structure, reducing the risk of osteoporosis-related diseases. 

Strengthens Immunity

We already know the advantages antioxidants do to our immunity. And fibre also plays a significant role in immunity. Studies show that fibre is an excellent food for the good bacteria within the gut. Thus, it helps in promoting good bacteria. But on the other hand, they also destroy harmful bacteria.

Cornmeal reduces inflammation within the body. As a result, it improves the immune reaction to such pathogens and destroys them. 

Prevents Diverticular Ailment

Getting enough fibre is vital for intestinal fitness. Studies state that consuming a good amount of fibre from cornmeal can lessen the chance of diverticular disorder by as much as 40%. Cornmeal also lets you thrust back this painful situation as you age.

How to Make Cornmeal?

Ingredients

Corn Kernels

Method of Preparation

Put the corn kernels in a blender or seed grinder and grind them.The first round will yield some uneven pieces so sieve the powder into a bowl and then grind the larger pieces again.You may also need the third grind or blend. Transfer the finely ground cornmeal to an airtight container.Cornmeal is prepared by mixing it with water and butter and thickening it. Then, one can add it to soups to reduce it. Also, it may be baked as cornbread.

Healthy Cornmeal Recipes 

Cornmeal Porridge

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: 20 minutes

Servings: 5

Ingredients

Water: 2 cupsCoconut Milk: 2-3 cupsCinnamon stick: ½Teaspoon salt: ½ (adjust to taste)Yellow cornmeal: 1 cupVanilla extract: 1 tspNutmeg: ½ tsp (adjust to taste)Dates/Figs Puree: ½ cup

Method of Preparation

Add 2 cups of water and 2 cups coconut milk to a saucepan.Put in ½ stick cinnamon sticks. Bring it to a boil.Gradually whisk in the cornmeal, add a little at a time until you have added the whole thing, and keep stirring to prevent any lumps.Reduce the heat to low and cook for about 15 minutes until the mixture thickens.Add vanilla extract, nutmeg and dates puree to the mixture.Adjust consistency with coconut milk or water if required.Turn off the flame. Serve it with extra nutmeg or cinnamon powder. 

Gluten-Free Cornbread

Total Time: 45 mins

Cooking Time: 10 mins

Servings: 9

Ingredients

Gluten-free yellow cornmeal: 1¼ cupsGluten-free millet flour blend: ¾ cupBaking powder: 2 tspSalt: ½ tspLarge Egg: 1Low-fat milk: 1 ½ cupsButter melted: 3 tbspHoney: 1 tbsp

Method of Preparation

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.Step 2: Whisk cornmeal, flour blend, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Then whisk egg, milk, butter and honey in a bowl. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until they combine. Spread the batter into the prepared pan.Step 3: Bake the cornbread for about 35 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes clean. Cool It for 10 minutes before serving.

Potential Adverse Effects of Cornmeal

Risk of Pellagra

Many people worldwide widely use cornmeal. If you consume cornmeal in high amounts, then you can be at the risk of pellagra. Pellagra is a deficiency of vitamins, especially niacin, in the body. Corn is deficient in (lysine and tryptophan) and niacin, which helps protect the body from pellagra. If cornmeal forms the major part of your diet, then make sure that you include vitamin-rich foods in your diet to prevent pellagra.

Allergic Reactions

Consuming cornmeal can lead to allergies and symptoms such as rashes on the skin, swelling of the mucous membrane, vomiting, etc. Many people also suffer from asthma attacks and anaphylaxis after having cornmeal.

Causes Bloating and Flatulence

Cornmeal contains a high percentage of starch. So when you consume cornmeal, when it breaks down in the large intestine, it produces a lot of gas. So if someone consumes large quantities of cornmeal, it may cause bloating and flatulence.

Not Good for Diabetics

Cornmeal adversely affects people with diabetes as it increases the blood sugar level in the body. Cornmeal has a high carbohydrate content, which leads to an increase in blood sugar levels. So people who have diabetes should not consume cornmeal in large quantities.

Causes Indigestion and Stomach Upset

Cornmeal is a good source of fibre and other vital nutrients, which helps flush out bad toxins from the human body. But an overdose of these fibres can be harmful to your stomach. If you eat large portions of cornmeal, then it can cause indigestion and stomach cramps. So, you must watch how much cornmeal you are consuming.

May Cause Osteoporosis

People who depend on cornmeal can have osteoporosis as cornmeal contains very less amount of calcium. But this is relevant only if cornmeal supplementation does not happen with calcium-rich food.

Causes Intestinal Irritation and Diarrhoea

It would help if you did not consume cornmeal raw as it can result in diarrhoea. Cornmeal also leads to many intestinal disorders. You must consult your doctor if you find any symptoms.

The HealthifyMe Note

Cornmeal can have several adverse effects on your health if you do not consume it correctly. Besides its allergic reactions, it can potentially lead to bloating, a spike in blood sugar levels, diarrhoea etc. In addition, it can also lead to osteoporosis.

Summary

Cornmeal is a nutritional winner and helps you meet your standard dietary requirements. It is rich in many essential nutrients like selenium and fibre. Cornmeal also has many health benefits. For example, it is suitable for heart health, immunity, bones etc. Moreover, you can make healthy and innovative dishes with cornmeal. However, be cautious while eating cornmeal if you have a history of food allergies, as it can cause rashes and stomach aches when consumed in large quantities.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. Is cornmeal high in carbs?

A. Cornmeal is high in carbohydrates and contains some vital vitamins and minerals. One hundred grams of cornmeal contains 79.4 grams of carbohydrates, a significant amount. You can use cornmeal to prepare cornbread, fitters and many more. It is another option for people who follow a gluten-free diet and can benefit digestion and heart health.

Q. Is cornmeal healthier than rice?

A. Cornmeal is more or less similar in carbs and calories compared to rice. Despite this, brown rice is healthier than both of these. Brown rice has different essential vitamins and minerals. Some of them are B-complex vitamins, copper, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus and zinc. It is good to consume brown rice not only because they are richer in nutrients but also because they generally have more healthy fats, antioxidants and dietary fibre. 

Q. Is cornmeal healthier than white flour?

A. Cornmeal has fewer calories, sodium and carbs but more fibre than white flour. Cornmeal is also gluten-free. People who have an allergy to gluten can consume cornmeal. White flour is refined flour which doesn’t have much nutrition and has very low fibre. 

Q. Is cornmeal good for weight loss?

A. Yes, cornmeal contains a high amount of fibre which you fill for a longer time. By this, the urge to eat unhealthy and fast food is reduced. Fibre makes our digestion process easy by absorbing water. When food is in our digestive tract, it smoothes our bowel movement. Thus, it is helpful in weight loss and prevents obesity.

Q. Can cornmeal make you gain weight?

A. Cornmeal doesn’t make you fat, but how many calories you have does. Cornmeal is abundant in carbohydrates and fibre. Frequently it is used for baked products and combined with other ingredients such as eggs, milk, butter and oils. Therefore, you must be careful in this case, as cornmeal and cornmeal products are very calorie-dense. If you don’t want to gain weight, you must have a limited amount of cornmeal, ensuring that what you eat is healthy and low in calories. 

Q. Is cornmeal diabetic friendly?

A. Yes, you can eat cornmeal but in limited portions, if you have diabetes. Cornmeal is a source of energy, vitamins, minerals, and fibre. It’s also low in sodium and fat. How food affects blood sugar is indicated by the glycemic index of that food. Foods with a GI from 56 to 69 are known to be medium glycemic foods. Food which scores less than 55 is low-glycemic. Foods with a high glycemic index of 70 and above increase blood sugar levels. If you have diabetes, then your focus should be on low-GI foods. The glycemic index of cornmeal is between 68 and 69, depending on the preparation method. When cornmeal gets cooked with water, the GI is around 68. So you should consume less amount of cornmeal if you have diabetes. 

Q. What are the benefits of eating cornmeal?

A. Cornmeal is an excellent source of fibre and selenium. Also, it contains all the essential nutrients required by the human body. Due to its high fibre content, it is good for heart health. It lowers the cholesterol level in the body, making it heart-healthy. In addition, It has high selenium, which has antioxidant properties. It helps the body fight harmful bacteria, increases immunity and promotes healthy bones.

Q. Which is healthier, oatmeal or cornmeal?

A. Cornmeal and Oatmeal are high in calories, carbs, fibre, potassium and protein. On the other hand, oatmeal has more thiamin. However, cornmeal contains more vitamin B6 than oatmeal. For macronutrient ratios, oatmeal is high in protein and lighter in carbs. So, we can say that oatmeal is much healthier than cornmeal.

Q. Is cornmeal good for your heart?

A. Cornmeal is good for your cardiovascular health and lowers cholesterol levels. Cornmeal is high in selenium content; one cup of cornmeal has 28% of your daily requirements. Thus, it can reduce coronary heart disease risk. In addition, some research studies have found that selenium may aid in improving cardiovascular diseases due to its antioxidant properties.

Q. Does cornmeal raise blood sugar?

A. According to the glycemic score of that food, one can know whether it will raise your blood sugar level or not. For example, cornmeal has a glycemic index score of 69, similar to whole wheat bread. This score is a little high, which means that if cornmeal gets eaten on its own, it will raise blood sugar levels quickly. Most cornbread recipes include sugar (on average, 2/3 cup), which will increase the glycemic score. 

Q. Is cornmeal hard to digest?

A. Cornmeal contains high cellulose content, leading to significant gastrointestinal symptoms. It is difficult for the human digestive tract to break down cellulose. Cornmeal is high in cellulose, which is insoluble, making it hard for our digestive tract to digest food. However, the body breaks down the other components of cornmeal. Consuming cornmeal for longer can also help the digestive system break down cellulose walls, making it easy to access more nutrients.

Q. Is cornmeal Keto-friendly?

A. Cornmeal is both high in carbohydrates and low in fats, which are the exact opposite of the nutrients required in a keto diet. The ideal macronutrient ratio for a keto diet is 70% fat, 20-25% protein, and 5-10% carbohydrates. It means that for a keto diet, most of your food should be both low in carbohydrates and high in fats.

Q. Is cornmeal lower in carbs than flour?

A. Cornmeal and flour both are high in carbohydrates. Cornmeal is much similar to flour for carbohydrates. As per 100 g, cornmeal has 79.4g of total carbs and flour has 76.3g of carbohydrates. Cornmeal and flour are high in calories, carbs and fibre. In addition, cornmeal has more dietary fibre and good selenium content than flour.

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