Grits and oatmeal are two popular breakfast foods. Both have their own nutritional values causing many people to ask if one is better than the other. Let’s answer, which is better, grits or oatmeal?
Oatmeal is better due to its higher percentage of fiber, protein and minerals. Oatmeal has a little more natural flavor than grits which need more flavor additions. Grits take longer to cook and have a higher glycemic index score.
This article will include a side-by-side comparison of the nutrients contained in both. In addition, I’ll examine their tastes, textures, glycemic index, satiety index, prices, storage methods and health benefits.
Disclaimer: Some links in this article are affiliate links which means I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. As an Amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
Grits vs Oatmeal: The Difference
Depending on what area you’re from, one of these two foods may be unfamiliar with you. Grits are more popular in the south and are on every menu. Up north, most menus don’t offer them as an option, but you’ll find oatmeal.
For this reason, some people don’t know much about one of them. Let’s discuss some of their differences. What is the difference between grits and oatmeal?
Grits are made by removing the hull and germ of dried kernels of corn and then ground. Oatmeal is made by hulling and steaming whole oat grains which are chopped or rolled. Oatmeal cooks faster than grits. Grits are more often served for breakfast, lunch or dinner while oatmeal is primarily served at breakfast.
Grits are a type of porridge made from ground corn. Most grits found in stores are known as hominy grits. They are made by soaking corn kernels, typically dent corn kernels, in an alkali solution removing the hulls of the corn kernel. The results are then ground down to what is known as hominy grits.
Stone-ground grits are made from grinding the whole dried corn kernel, but this kind is much rarer due to its short shelf life.
Because oats are the primary ingredient in oatmeal, the different types of oatmeal come down to how the oat is flattened and sliced.
There are four main types of oats:
- Rolled: Rolled oats are the classic oats used in oatmeal. These are also called regular or old-fashioned oats.
- Steel-cut: Oatmeal made from steel-cut oats is typically chewier and heartier. You can also use these oats as a substitution for traditional rice dishes, like risotto.
- Stone-ground: Stone-ground oats make creamy oatmeal.
- Quick: Quick oats, often called instant oats, are thinner rolled oats. These are often used in instant oatmeal and microwavable versions because the oats don’t take as long to cook.
Grits vs Oatmeal: Nutrient Comparison
Grits and oatmeal have similar nutritional profiles, although there are key differences between the two.
The following table is a side-by-side comparison of the nutrients contained in grits and oatmeal. Both are unenriched with no other ingredients. The 100-gram amount is more than one cup and a serving but was used for an even comparison.
|Oatmeal Dry (100 g)||Grits Dry (100 g)|
|Protein||13.2 g||8.8 g|
|Carbohydrates||67.7 g||79.6 g|
|Fiber||10.1 g||1.6 g|
|Fat||6.52 g||1.20 g|
|Sugar||0.99 g||0.64 g|
|Vitamin A||0 IU||214 IU|
|Beta-carotene||0 mcg||97 mcg|
|Vitamin C||0 mg||0 mg|
|Vitamin B6||0.10 mg||0.14 mg|
|Vitamin B9 (Folate)||32 mcg||5 mcg|
|Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)||0.46 mg||0.13 mg|
|Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)||0.15 mg||0.04 mg|
|Vitamin B3 (Niacin)||1.12 mg||1.20 mg|
|Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid)||1.12 mg||0.48 mg|
|Magnesium||138 mg||27 mg|
|Phosphorous||410 mg||73 mg|
|Potassium||362 mg||137 mg|
|Iron||4.25 mg||1.00 mg|
|Copper||0.39 mg||0.07 mg|
|Calcium||52 mg||2 mg|
|Zinc||3.64 mg||0.41 mg|
Grits and oatmeal contain the same types of nutrients. At first it’s difficult to determine which one provides a higher percentage than the other. This causes many people to ask, which is more healthier grits or oatmeal?
Oatmeal is healthier than grits due to its higher percentage of protein, fiber, B vitamins and minerals. Oatmeal provides a greater number of folate, thiamin, riboflavin, B5, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, iron, copper, calcium and zinc.
Grits are a healthy option also. They contain slightly fewer calories, less total fat and sugar. Grits provide a higher percentage of vitamin A, B6 and niacin.
You can’t go wrong with either option and which one you choose may come down to a specific goal.
One of those goals may be for weight loss. Oatmeal and grits have a similar amount of calories, but oatmeal is better for weight loss due to its higher percentage of protein and fiber. The fiber in oatmeal may help increase the feeling of fullness and suppress the appetite.
How you prepare each food makes a huge difference how healthy each one is. Grits are often combined with cheese, cream, butter, maple syrup, sausage, ham or bacon.
Oatmeal is more often served with mixed nuts, pieces of fruit and cinnamon. Most prepared oatmeal is healthier than grits.
I compared everything between oatmeal and Cream of Wheat in my article, Cream of Wheat vs Oatmeal: What’s The Difference? We Compare.
Grits vs Oatmeal: Taste and Texture
Many times people choose one food over the other because of its taste. Since there are some similarities between the two, many people wonder and ask, does grits taste like oatmeal?
Grits and oatmeal taste different. Grits are blander and have less flavor than oatmeal. The ingredients added to grits will make the grits taste more like the ingredient added. Oatmeal has an earthier flavor and the texture is not as smooth as grits.
Most food experts and chefs claim stone ground grits have more corn flavor and a better texture than instant.
Old-fashioned rolled oats have a chewier texture than the smoother instant oatmeal.
Find out how oatmeal compared to quinoa in my article, Quinoa vs Oatmeal: Which is Better? Let’s Compare.
How To Cook Grits
Grits are more versatile than oatmeal and are often used for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Grits are cooked by boiling them in water. Typically, boiling four to five times the amount of water to grits for approximately 45 minutes.
Some people simmer the grits in milk or chicken stock. Instant grits cook much faster. On the stove top they are added to boiling water and then cooked over medium to low heat for five to seven minutes.
Flavor pairings for grits:
- Maple syrup
Substitutions for grits:
- Cream of wheat
How To Cook Oatmeal
Old-fashioned traditional oats are added to boiling water and cooked for about five minutes over medium heat.
Traditional instant oats are added to boiling water or milk and then let stand for two minutes.
Steel cut oats are added to boiling water and then simmered over low heat for 25-30 minutes.
Flavor pairings for oatmeal:
- Fruit like banana, blueberries or strawberries
- Mixed, crunched nuts
Substitutions for oatmeal:
- Brown rice
- Nuts and seeds
- Almond meal
Find out if oatmeal or brown rice has the better satiety index in my article, Brown Rice vs Oatmeal: Which is Better? Let’s Compare.
Grits and Oatmeal Glycemic Index
The glycemic index is important especially if blood sugar levels are a concern. Avoiding blood sugar spikes is an important part of consuming healthy food for diabetics or anybody.
The Glycemic Index (GI) is a scale measuring how fast a particular food raises the blood sugar in the blood 3. Blood sugar spikes can lead to health complications with the heart, nerves, kidneys and eyes 4.
How blood sugar levels are affected:
- Foods with a glycemic index 70 or more cause a quicker spike in blood sugar levels.
- Foods with a glycemic index 56 to 69 cause a moderate spike in blood sugar levels.
- Foods with a glycemic index 55 or less cause a slow spike in blood sugar levels.
Foods on the GI scale are categorized as:
- Low-GI foods: 55 or under
- Medium-GI foods: 56-69
- High-GI foods: 70 or over
Now we know what the glycemic index is, and how it affects blood sugar, let’s answer, does grits or oatmeal have a higher GI?
The glycemic index of grits is higher than oatmeal. Grits made from fermented corn flour have a GI of 65 while grits from non-fermented corn flour have a GI over 90. Rolled oats have a GI of 55. Instant oatmeal has a GI of 79. Steel-cut oats have a low GI under 55.
Steel-cut oats have a lower GI because they are the least processed. Rolled oats are a little higher because they’ve been partially cooked. Quick oats have been steamed and rolled into thinner pieces to cook quicker. This process increases their GI.
If you’re on a low carb or Keto diet, oatmeal and grits may not be the best choice due to their high percentage of carbs. Check out the Keto tip just below.
Keto Bread Tip: Great News! Did you know, you don’t have to give up your favorite bread, pizza or sandwiches to follow a 100% Keto diet. Find out more in the KetoBreads website by clicking here, Keto Breads.
Grits vs Oatmeal: Satiety Index
Satiety is a term used to explain the feeling of being full and the loss of appetite which occurs after eating food. The satiety index is a scale showing how full a person feels after eating a certain food.
The satiety index was developed in 1995 from a study which tested 38 foods. The foods were ranked how they satisfied a person’s hunger. Foods scoring under 100 are considered less filling and foods scoring above 100 are considered more filling 5.
The table below shows the satiety scores of breakfast cereals with milk.
|Food||Satiety Index Score|
Oatmeal and porridge scored 209%. They scored the highest of the breakfast cereals tested. The study results didn’t mention if the porridge is grits or something else. Technically, grits, oatmeal or other dishes are a type of porridge.
Of all the 38 foods, oatmeal and porridge scored the fourth highest only beat by oranges, ling fish and boiled potatoes.
High satiety food and oatmeal are likely to have a high satiety score for the following reasons:
- High in protein.
- High in fiber.
- High in volume (foods containing a lot of water or air).
- Low in energy density (foods low in calories for their weight).
Oatmeal seems to fit into three of the four listed above.
- Oatmeal contains 7.9 grams of protein per 3/4 cup.
- Oatmeal provides 6.1 grams of fiber per 3/4 cup.
- Oatmeal weighs a good amount when prepared in relation to its calories.
Check out the differences between oatmeal and granola in my article, Granola vs Oatmeal: What’s The Difference? Let’s Compare.
Grits and Oatmeal Costs
The cost of food certainly matters to most, especially with the rising costs of everything. The price may sway your decision about which one to use in your meals more often. Therefore, which costs more, grits or oatmeal?
Oatmeal costs more than grits. The average price for quick oats is $0.19 per serving. The average price for quick grits is $0.15 per serving.
I decided to conduct a search of various different stores to compare the price of grits and oatmeal.
I checked Shoprite supermarket for the prices of grits and oatmeal:
- Quaker quick grits
- $2.39 per 24 oz container (14 servings) equaling $0.17 per 1/4 cup serving
- Quaker quick oats
- $4.99 per 18 oz container (13 servings) equaling $0.38 per 1/2 cup serving
I then checked Walmart for grits and oatmeal prices:
- Quaker quick grits
- $2.00 per 24 oz container (14 servings) equaling $0.14 per 1/4 cup serving
- Quaker quick oats
- $4.98 per 42 oz container (30 servings) equaling $0.17 per 1/2 cup serving
- Quaker quick oats
- $2.73 per 18 oz container (13 servings) equaling $0.21 per 1/2 cup serving
How To Store Grits and Oatmeal
Whichever you choose or have on hand, proper storage is crucial. How you store oatmeal, grits, veggies, fruits or bread can affect how long they last before going bad and how they taste. Therefore, how do you store grits?
Store unopened dry grits in a cool, dry place away from the heat and sun. Opened grits should be tightly covered in its original container, glass or plastic container or resealable bag. Opened, uncooked grits does not have to be refrigerated.
Opened grits should be stored in a sealed container up to one year. Always check the date on the packaging.
Cooked grits should be stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator up to three days.
How do you store oatmeal?
Store unopened dry oatmeal in a cool, dry place away from the heat and sun. Opened oatmeal should be tightly covered in its original container, glass or plastic container or resealable bag. Opened, uncooked oatmeal does not have to be refrigerated.
Opened oatmeal should be stored up to one year. Always check the dates on the packaging. Typically, the “best if used by date” is a quality suggestion 6.
Cooked oatmeal should be stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator up to three days.
Is there a difference between overnight oats and oatmeal? Find out in my article, Overnight Oats vs Oatmeal: What’s The Difference? We Compare.
Grits and Oatmeal Health Benefits
As noted in the nutrient section of this article earlier, the nutrients provided by grits and oatmeal are similar, just in different amounts.
For this reason some of the benefits are the same and the food with more of a particular nutrient offers the better benefit. Since oatmeal provides a greater number of many of the nutrients, we’ll start there first.
The Health Benefits of Oatmeal
Oatmeal contains 10.1 grams of fiber per 100 grams.
Oatmeal is high in soluble fiber, which is helpful for many reasons 7. What makes fiber soluble is it dissolves in water.
Soluble fiber is known for the following:
- Decrease the risk of diabetes by managing the blood glucose levels.
- Helps avoid constipation and have a more regular stool.
- Help overall digestive health.
- Aids greatly in weight management because it allows you to feel full faster and eat less.
High in Iron
Oatmeal contains 4.25 mg of iron per 100 grams.
Much higher in iron than other grains, oatmeal is an excellent choice if you need to get your daily value of iron. Iron is essential in the creation of red blood cells and is a necessary part of any healthy diet.
Iron is also vital for growth and development, as some hormones need iron to be appropriately balanced.
Oatmeal contains 52 mg of calcium per 100 grams:
Calcium is important for the heart and blood pressure. Harvard Health reports calcium helps maintain blood pressure by helping in the controlling of the relaxing and tightening of blood vessels 8.
Calcium also helps the following:
- Helps nerve function.
- Help the muscles to function properly.
- Build and maintain strong bones.
Oatmeal contains 362 mg of potassium per 100 grams:
Potassium helps the body get rid of excess sodium reducing fluid build-up. These help keep systolic and diastolic blood pressure lower 9.
According to Harvard Health, a number of studies have shown a connection between low potassium levels and high blood pressure 10. The more potassium, the more sodium your body will lose.
Consuming too much sodium or not enough potassium throws off the delicate balance the kidneys need to remove the excess water 11.
Oatmeal contains 410 mg of phosphorus per 100 grams:
Phosphorus has been shown in scientific studies to help with the following:
- Muscle contraction.
- Muscle recovery.
- Help the kidneys remove waste.
- Help the body manage and store energy.
- Promote healthy nerve conduction.
- Promote teeth and bone strength.
Oatmeal contains 138 mg of magnesium per 100 grams:
Magnesium helps keep blood pressure levels stable and balanced. Recent scientific research examined previous studies and concluded magnesium supplementation decreased systolic and diastolic blood pressure 12.
Magnesium helps control the following:
- Blood sugar
- Blood pressure
- Nerve function
One reason many people supplement with magnesium in the evening is because it helps calm the whole body including blood vessels.
In the heart and muscles, magnesium competes with calcium to help the muscles relax after contracting. When the body is low in magnesium, calcium can over stimulate the heart muscle’s cells causing a rapid or irregular heartbeat 13.
Find out if there is a difference in benefits between steel cut and regular oatmeal in my article, Steel Cut Oatmeal vs Oatmeal: Which Is Better? Let’s Compare.
Of the six B vitamins listed below, oatmeal provides a higher percentage of four of them.
The B vitamins provided include the following:
- B1 (thiamin)
- B2 (riboflavin)
- B3 (niacin)
- B9 (folate)
B vitamins help support the following:
- Brain function.
- Cardiovascular disease.
- Nerve function.
- Red blood cells.
- Energy levels.
A lack of B vitamins has been associated with oxidative stress and neural inflammation. In a study released in 2018 32 healthy adults were given B vitamin supplementation for six months. The results indicated preliminary evidence B vitamin supplementation reduced oxidative stress and inflammation 14.
The Health Benefits of Grits
Grits contain all of the nutrients listed above for oatmeal. Therefore, they provide a similar benefit but in smaller amounts due to their fewer percentages of those nutrients.
Antioxidants are a very important part of any diet, and grits are rich in these. They protect the cells from free radical damage, which is the leading cause of cancer and other chronic diseases caused by cell damage.
Grits contain the following antioxidants:
- Syringic acid
- Caffeic acid
- 4-OH benzoic acid
Studies have shown the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin may protect against degenerative eye disorders like cataracts and may protect your skin from sun damage 15.
Both antioxidants are found in high concentrations inside the retina part of the eye. The two antioxidants may help protect the eyes against potentially harmful blue light. Too much blue-wavelength light exposure can cause damage to the eye’s cornea 16.
Grits and oats are naturally gluten-free and might be a great substitute to other gluten-heavy items of a similar taste. Even those who don’t have a completely gluten-free diet may benefit from cutting down on their gluten.
Recently it has been discussed many more people have at least a small amount of gluten intolerance and are unaware of it. Having less gluten in your diet is a good choice for most.
Important: Although oats are gluten free, they may come in contact with gluten-containing grains in storage or during transportation. Most of the Quaker oat products have solved this issue and label those products gluten free. Always check the label of your oatmeal to determine if its gluten free.
Is oatmeal better than eggs? Find out in my article here, Eggs vs Oatmeal – Which Is Better? Let’s Compare.
Read Next – More Oatmeal vs Food Articles!
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- USDA: Cereals, oats, regular and quick, not fortified, dry
- USDA: Cereals, corn grits, yellow, regular and quick, unenriched, dry
- Harvard Health Publishing: Glycemic index for 60+ foods
- National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: Know Your Blood Sugar Numbers: Use Them to Manage Your Diabetes
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: A satiety index of common foods
- Michigan State University: Dry oatmeal needs careful handling
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Mechanisms linking dietary fiber, gut microbiota and colon cancer prevention
- Harvard Health: Key minerals to help control blood pressure
- American Heart Association: How Potassium Can Help Control High Blood Pressure
- Harvard Health: Potassium lowers blood pressure
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: The Effect of the Sodium to Potassium Ratio on Hypertension Prevalence: A Propensity Score Matching Approach
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Effect of magnesium supplementation on blood pressure: a meta-analysis
- National Institutes of Health: Magnesium
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: The Effect of a High-Dose Vitamin B Multivitamin Supplement on the Relationship between Brain Metabolism and Blood Biomarkers of Oxidative Stress: A Randomized Control Trial
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Overall skin tone and skin-lightening-improving effects with oral supplementation of lutein and zeaxanthin isomers: a double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: The Photobiology of Lutein and Zeaxanthin in the Eye
- Quaker: How to Prepare Quaker Oats
- Quaker: How does Quaker make Gluten Free Oats?
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- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Celiac disease, wheat allergy, and gluten sensitivity: when gluten free is not a fad
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Oatmeal-Containing Breakfast is Associated with Better Diet Quality and Higher Intake of Key Food Groups and Nutrients Compared to Other Breakfasts in Children
- Oldways Whole Grains Council: Whole Grains A to Z
- University of Nebraska-Lincoln: Oatmeal – Whole Grain Goodness
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- Oxford University: International table of glycemic index and glycemic load values: 2002
- Quaker: Grits
- USDA: Corn Grits
- Wikipedia: Grits
- NC State University A&T State University Cooperative Extension: Creamy Shrimp and Grits
- Clemson Cooperative University: Homegrown Grits