Corn is one of the most important cereal crops in the world. It is the main cereal for 200 million people. By itself, cornmeal is not a complete source of nutrients. However, if you eat polenta with other foods, corn porridge can be beneficial to your health.
High levels of complex carbohydrates
The type of corn used to make polenta is different from the corn on the cob we are used to. It is a starchy variety of corn that is high in complex carbohydrates. Unlike simple carbohydrates, complex carbohydrates are digested more slowly. Thus, they maintain the feeling of satiety for longer and provide the body with energy for a long time.
Amylose and amylopectin – 2 forms of starchy carbohydrates
Amylose is a resistant starch that makes up 25% of the starch in cornmeal and resists digestion. This indicator means healthier blood sugar levels. The rest is amylopectin, which is easier to digest.
Friendly blood sugar
The glycemic index (GI) measures how much a food raises blood sugar on a scale of 1 to 100. The glycemic load (GL) is a serving size measure that determines how a food potentially affects blood sugar fluctuations.
While corn polenta is high in starchy carbohydrates, it has an average GI of around 68. This means that polenta should not raise blood sugar levels too quickly. This corn porridge is also low in GL, so it shouldn’t cause a sugar spike after consumption.
However, you need to know that the GI and GL of foods are affected by what you eat at the same time. If you have diabetes, it’s a good idea to focus on the total carbohydrate content of a food rather than its glycemic measurements.
Stick to small portions of corn polenta, such as 3/4 cup (125g). Combine porridge with vegetables, meat or fish to balance this dish.
Corn polenta is loaded with antioxidants
The yellow cornmeal used to make polenta is a rich source of antioxidants. Antioxidants are compounds that help protect body cells from oxidative damage. This may reduce the risk of certain age-related diseases. The most significant antioxidants in yellow cornmeal are carotenoids and phenolic compounds.
Carotenoids include carotenes, lutein, zeaxanthin, and others. These natural pigments make cornmeal yellow and may reduce the risk of eye disease. For example, age-related macular degeneration. It may also reduce the risk of diabetes, heart disease, dementia, and cancer.
Phenolic compounds in yellow cornmeal include flavonoids and phenolic acids. These compounds are responsible for its bitter, sour and astringent taste. According to some scientists, these compounds reduce the risk of age-related diseases due to their antioxidant properties. They are also able to block or reduce inflammation throughout the body and in the brain.
Corn Polenta Gluten Free
Cornmeal is gluten-free, so polenta is a healthy cereal choice when on a gluten-free diet.
However, be sure to read the label. Some manufacturers add gluten-containing ingredients. It also happens that the cereal is made in a facility that processes gluten-containing products, which increases the risk of impurities.
Corn polenta – easy recipe
One cup (125g) of dry cornmeal plus 4 cups (950ml) of water will make 4-5 cups (950-1188ml) of corn polenta. In other words, you need a 4 to 1 ratio of water to flour. You can vary the proportions depending on your needs. This recipe will make creamy corn porridge:
Bring 4 cups (950 ml) salted water or stock to a boil.
Add 1 cup (125 g) of polenta or yellow cornmeal.
Stir and reduce heat to low, allowing the porridge to thicken.
Cover the pot and cook the polenta for about 30-40 minutes, stirring every 5-10 minutes to prevent the porridge from sticking to the bottom and burning.
Drizzle with olive oil, fresh or dried herbs, and grated Parmesan, if desired.
Store dried cornmeal in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. Peeled polenta has a long shelf life of about 1 year. Whole grain cornmeal is usually used within 3 months. You can store it in the refrigerator to extend its shelf life.