Known for its vibrant color and buttery, rich flavor, cornbread is considered a staple Southern side dish often served alongside a variety of dishes.

The origins of cornbread can be traced back to Indigenous American groups, such as the Iroquois, who combined cornmeal and water to create one of the first versions of this classic quick bread (1).

While many people are familiar with cornbread, some folks may wonder what it’s made from and whether it can fit into a well-rounded diet.

This article takes a closer look at how cornbread is made, its nutrient content, and how it can affect your health.

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Cornbread is a type of bread made from cornmeal, which is dried corn that has been ground into flour.

It can be either sweet or savory and is typically topped with butter or served alongside soup, stew, or chili.

In addition to cornmeal, cornbread may include all-purpose flour, eggs, oil, and baking powder. Sweet varieties may also contain other ingredients like honey and brown or white sugar.

Unlike other types of bread, cornbread doesn’t contain yeast. It’s considered a quick bread, meaning that it rises very quickly.

It’s also easy to make and can be baked in a pan, cast-iron skillet, or Dutch oven to give it its signature crisp, delicious crust.

Summary

Cornbread is a type of quick bread that can be savory or sweet. It’s made using cornmeal, flour, eggs, oil, and baking powder.

The exact nutritional profile of cornbread can vary depending on the specific recipe and ingredients used.

However, cornbread generally contains high amounts of carbs, phosphorus, and sodium in each serving.

One piece of cornbread prepared from a commercially prepared mix contains (2):

  • Calories: 198
  • Protein: 4 grams
  • Fat: 6 grams
  • Carbs: 33 grams
  • Fiber: 1.5 grams
  • Phosphorus: 19% of the Daily Value (DV)
  • Sodium: 16% of the DV
  • Selenium: 10% of the DV
  • Thiamine: 10% of the DV
  • Niacin: 8% of the DV
  • Folate: 8% of the DV
  • Riboflavin: 8% of the DV
  • Iron: 6% of the DV
  • Vitamin B12: 6% of the DV
  • Calcium: 6% of the DV

Cornbread is a good source of phosphorus, an important mineral that your body needs for bone health, energy production, and DNA synthesis (3).

It’s also relatively high in sodium, a nutrient involved in regulating fluid balance and blood pressure levels (4, 5).

Additionally, cornbread contains several B vitamins, including thiamine, niacin, folate, and riboflavin. All of these nutrients play key roles in brain function, protein synthesis, and immune health (6, 7).

Summary

Cornbread is high in carbs, sodium, phosphorus, and B vitamins.

Cornbread may be associated with several potential benefits.

Good source of phosphorus

Cornbread is loaded with phosphorus, packing nearly 20% of the DV into each serving (2).

As the second most abundant mineral in the body, phosphorus is essential for multiple aspects of health (8).

In fact, phosphorus is a major structural component of the bones and teeth, as well as necessary for DNA production, energy storage, and regulating the body’s pH balance (8).

Although very rare, a phosphorus deficiency can have serious effects on health and cause bone loss, muscle weakness, impaired immunity, and more (3).

However, people with medical conditions that affect their body’s ability to regulate phosphorus, such as kidney disease, should talk with their doctor before making changes to their diet and may need to limit their intake of foods high in phosphorus, including cornbread (9).

Contains selenium

Cornbread is a good source of selenium, an important micronutrient that doubles as an antioxidant (2).

Not only can selenium help protect against oxidative cell damage and decrease inflammation, but it’s also crucial for thyroid function and the production of thyroid hormones (10).

Furthermore, getting enough selenium in your diet can support reproductive health and may affect fertility and sperm quality (11, 12).

According to one review, low levels of selenium during pregnancy may negatively affect fetal growth and be associated with a higher risk of complications like preeclampsia (13).

Simple and versatile

Cornbread requires just a few ingredients and is easy to prepare, regardless of your confidence level in the kitchen.

Because it uses baking powder instead of yeast, it doesn’t take long to rise, and you can make it much more quickly than other types of bread.

Several varieties of cornbread are available, so you can easily tailor this side dish to your personal tastes.

For example, if you prefer savory cornbread, you can experiment with adding ingredients like green onions, bacon, or cheese to find what works for you.

Alternatively, those with a sweet tooth can add a bit of brown sugar for a touch of flavor or enjoy it with a drizzle of honey or jam.

Summary

Cornbread is a good source of several nutrients, including phosphorus and selenium. It’s also easy to make and can be enjoyed in many ways.

Although you can enjoy cornbread in moderation as part of a balanced diet, there are a few downsides to consider.

First, each serving of cornbread made from a commercial mix using refined flour contains a high number of carbs — around 33 grams per slice — and just 2 grams of fiber (2).

While carbs are an important source of energy for the body, some people may need or want to monitor their intake, including those with diabetes or people following a low carb diet (14, 15, 16).

Additionally, most cornbread is considered a refined grain, meaning that the flour used to make it does not contain all three parts of the wheat kernel.

Refined grains are not only often lower in fiber than their whole grain counterparts but also may be associated with increased levels of inflammation and blood sugar (17, 18, 19).

Furthermore, although gluten-free varieties are available, most cornbread contains gluten, a type of protein found in grains like wheat, barley, and rye (20).

While most people can safely eat gluten, those with gluten-related disorders should avoid foods that contain gluten to prevent negative health effects (21).

Finally, keep in mind that some types of cornbread — including processed or store-bought varieties — may be high in sodium.

Consuming high amounts of sodium may increase blood pressure, especially among people who are more sensitive to the effects of salt (22).

Making your own cornbread from scratch or selecting a boxed mix that’s made with whole grains rather than refined cornmeal can help increase your intake of important nutrients, such as fiber, and maximize the potential health benefits (23).

Summary

Cornbread is high in carbs and sodium, and many commercial varieties are refined. Cornbread also sometimes contains gluten, which some people may need or want to avoid.

Cornbread is easy to make and requires just a few simple ingredients:

  • 1 cup (170 grams) of cornmeal
  • 1 cup (120 grams) of all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon (6 grams) of salt
  • 3 tablespoons (43 grams) of baking powder
  • 1 cup (237 mL) of milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup (119 mL) of vegetable oil

To get started, combine the cornmeal with the all-purpose flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder.

Next, add the milk, egg, and vegetable oil and stir until combined.

Pour the batter into a greased cake pan and bake for 20–25 minutes at 400°F (204°C), or until your cornbread reaches a golden-brown color.

If you’re limiting your intake of carbs, many low carb recipes are. available online. These usually feature flours like almond flour or coconut flour instead of cornmeal.

These recipes also use sweeteners like monk fruit in place of sugar and include sweet corn extract to mimic the signature flavor of cornbread, without the extra carbs. However, many other low carb variations are available to experiment with.

Summary

Try using the simple recipe above to make cornbread at home or swap in some low carb ingredients.

Cornbread is a quick bread usually made using cornmeal, flour, vegetable oil, baking powder, and eggs.

Although it’s relatively high in carbs and sodium, it contains several important nutrients, including phosphorus, selenium, and B vitamins.

It’s also versatile, easy to make, and can be enjoyed in moderation as part of a healthy diet.