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Is Polenta Bad For You?



Short answer

Polenta is usually made from yellow corn that is ground to make cornmeal. Polenta is a good source of protein, fiber and complex carbohydrates. It is a versatile side dish that can be combined with other nutritional ingredients. Because corn has become the number one GMO food the only great option is to find a Non-GMO cornmeal brand.



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Long answer

Polenta is ground corn meal that originated with Italian cooking. Because of its fiber content polenta is great for digestion and helps to balance out the gastrointestinal tract while promoting healthy gut bacteria.  Most people should consume more daily fiber to help with regular bowel movements and prevent constipation. Proper fiber intake helps with the prevention of colon cancer and helpful for individuals dealing with an irritable bowel.  Fiber makes you feel full so there is less of a tendency to over eat.

The complex carbohydrates in polenta allow for slower digestion and will not cause a spike in glucose levels compared to simple carbohydrates. The combination of the fiber and complex carbohydrates make this a nice choice for diabetics and for people addressing weight management.

Polenta is gluten free.  Gluten intolerance, gluten sensitivity and Celiac Disease (Sprue) affect millions of individuals who have to avoid wheat, rye and barley. For these individuals the ingestion of grain causes significant gastrointestinal upset. Glutinous proteins can make your gut more permeable which allows partially digested proteins to enter the bloodstream-promoting inflammation throughout the body. Polenta is a great choice for anyone dealing with gluten issues.

Polenta provides protein, is low in fat and low in calories. Polenta is not a great source for minerals or vitamins but does contain traces of calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, sodium and zinc. The vitamins found in polenta in small amounts are vitamin A, vitamin B and vitamin E. Some polenta is enriched with minerals and vitamins but by adding healthy vegetables to the recipe you can accomplish the same thing while adding to the fiber content. A cup of polenta will contain approximately 145 calories, 1 gram of fat, 3 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber and no cholesterol.

Because polenta is from corn it contains carotenoids which are helpful for eye health. The two main carotenoids found in polenta are lutein and zeaxanthin which are shown to decrease the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration.

A great way to enjoy polenta is to make your own. Take 6 cups of water, add ½ teaspoon sea salt and bring to a boil.  Whisk in 1 ¾ cups of Non-GMO cornmeal and reduce the heat to low.  Stir frequently until the mixture is thickened.  To add additional nutrient value, sauté vegetables of your choice and add to the polenta before serving.  

Ingredients to be aware of

  • made from corn-make sure it is non- gmo


  • good source of fiber
  • low in fat and calories
  • complex carbohydrates
  • good protein source
  • gluten free
  • versatile side dish

Our Wellness Pick (what is this?)

Organic Corn Grits/Polenta

  • USDA Organic
  • Whole grain nutrition
  • Non-GMO verified
  • Gluten-free option
  • Rich in fiber
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Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Dr. Becky Maes
Published on: 11-14-2023
Last updated: 12-01-2023

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Dr. Becky Maes
Published on: 11-14-2023
Last updated: 12-01-2023

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