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Grits are a creamy, thick porridge made from dried, ground corn that’s cooked with hot water, milk, or broth.
They’re widely consumed in the Southern United States and typically served with breakfast.
Since grits are high in carbs, you may wonder if they’re acceptable for a diabetes-friendly diet.
This article tells you whether you can eat grits if you have diabetes.
During digestion, carbs break down into sugars that enter your blood.
The hormone insulin then removes these sugars so that they can be used for energy. However, people with diabetes do not produce or respond well to insulin and may experience potentially dangerous blood sugar spikes after eating lots of carbs (
As such, they’re advised to limit large portions of high-carb foods and aim for meals that balance all three macronutrients — carbs, protein, and fat.
That said, you can still eat grits if you have diabetes — but you should keep portions small and load up on other healthful foods to limit their effect on your blood sugar.
Since grits are made from corn, they’re high in carbs and can raise blood sugar. However, they’re not completely off-limits for people with diabetes.
The way that grits are processed also affects your blood sugar.
The more fibrous your grits, the healthier they are if you have diabetes.
Grits are available in several forms, including (
- Stone-ground: made from coarsely ground kernels of whole corn
- Hominy: ground from corn kernels soaked in an alkali solution to remove the outer shell
- Quick, regular, or instant: ground from kernels processed to remove both the outer shell and germ, a nutrient-rich part of a corn kernel
As a result, stone-ground grits are likely the best choice for people with diabetes, since they may not increase blood sugar as much as other types.
However, quick, regular, or instant grits are the most widely available varieties outside of the Southern United States.
Stone-ground grits boast more fiber and nutrients than more processed forms, such as regular or instant, and may thus be less likely to trigger blood sugar spikes.
Due to different processing methods, the glycemic index (GI) of grits can vary considerably.
On a scale of 0–100, the GI measures to what extent a certain food increases your blood sugar. It depends on starches, processing, other nutrients, cooking method, and several other factors (
One study in 11 healthy adults noted that grits made from milled and fermented corn flour had a moderate GI of around 65 while grits made from non-fermented corn flour scored above 90 (
Yet, high-GI foods don’t necessarily lead to poor blood sugar control in people with diabetes. The amount you eat and which foods you consume along with them also matter (
For example, eating 2 cups (484 grams) of grits will likely increase your blood sugar more than eating 1/2 cup (121 grams) alongside eggs, non-starchy vegetables, or other diabetes-friendly foods.
Heavily processed types of grits may have a high GI, underscoring the importance of small portion sizes if you have diabetes.
If prepared carefully, grits can be part of a balanced, diabetes-friendly diet.
You should try to use stone-ground grits, as these contain more fiber and are less likely to spike your blood sugar. If you can’t find this type in your local store, you can buy it online.
It’s also important to cook your grits with water or broth instead of milk and cheese. While these dairy products might be popular add-ins, they’ll also raise the carb content.
You can still create a flavorful dish by using spices like garlic.
Nonetheless, bear in mind that grits are typically served in large portions with high-calorie foods like butter and processed meats.
Try to limit yourself to one or two servings, making sure to eat a variety of lean proteins, healthy fats, vegetables, legumes, and fruits as well. It’s best to avoid refined carbs and sugary foods.
Grits can be incorporated into a wholesome, diabetes-friendly diet that includes nutritious foods and limits sweets and refined carbs. Just make sure to refrain from large portions, use stone-ground varieties, and cook without milk or cheese.
Grits are a creamy Southern dish made from ground corn.
While they’re high in carbs and can increase blood sugar, you can eat them in moderation if you have diabetes.
Just be sure to pair this savory porridge with healthy, low-carb ingredients and choose less processed, stone-ground varieties when possible.