Whole cornmeal is ground, dried corn that comes in different varieties and textures. It can be used for breakfast, dinner and everything in between, making it a versatile addition to your pantry. Perhaps the most important thing to know about cornmeal, though, is that it is a whole grain that comes with a host of health benefits.
Cornmeal is a carbohydrate, and although carbs have gotten a bad rap, whole grains like whole cornmeal are "good" carbohydrates. These types of whole grains contain complex carbs, fiber and other nutrients, and they can help prevent diseases like diabetes, heart disease and some cancers. One hundred grams -- about 3.5 ounces -- of whole cornmeal have more than 7 grams of fiber and less than 1 gram of sugar. Eating a diet with plenty of whole grains, including whole cornmeal, can help with weight loss goals and improve your overall health.
Cornmeal is gluten-free, making it a good whole grain choice for people suffering from celiac disease or wheat allergies. People who have a gluten intolerance or sensitivity can also benefit from eating a gluten-free diet, because it can help with symptoms such as abdominal pain, diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome. Whole cornmeal can be used as a substitute for wheat in some baked items.
Vitamins and Minerals
Whole grain corn meal is a good source of many of the minerals and vitamins our bodies need to stay healthy and well. A 100-gram serving of whole grain corn meal contains 18 essential amino acids, 127 milligrams of magnesium, 241 milligrams of phosphorus and 287 milligrams of potassium. It is also a good source of thiamin, choline, niacin, folate and vitamins B-6, A, E and K.
Because the flavor of cornmeal is bland on its own, you can dress it up with seasonings or other additions. Cook cornmeal with a little bit of low-fat milk and honey until tender for a nutritious breakfast, or use it along with other healthy ingredients to make a batch of wholesome muffins. Use it as a breading for chicken or fish. To make polenta, just add the cornmeal to boiling, salted water and cook on low heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture thickens. A serving of warm polenta seasoned with sea salt and freshly ground pepper complements many chicken, beef or vegetarian dishes.
Perry Miller graduated from Missouri State University in 2005 with a bachelor's degree in journalism and nutrition sciences. She covers health, fitness and nutrition for various print and online publications.