What Is Polenta Flour?

A man stirring while cooking a pot of polenta.
A man stirring while cooking a pot of polenta. (Image: Paolo74s/iStock/Getty Images)

Similar to oatmeal, polenta is a whole grain with origins as an Italian porridge. Made from coarsely ground corn, polenta flour is a source of both fiber and iron and makes a healthy alternative whole-grain option for your diet.

Calorie Content

Compared to whole-wheat flour, polenta flour is a more concentrated source of calories. A 1/4-cup serving of the coarsely ground corn flour contains 130 calories, versus 100 calories in the same serving of whole-wheat flour. Knowing the calorie differences in foods you commonly eat can help you track your intake for weight management. Even though both polenta flour and whole-wheat flour make a healthy addition to your diet, too many calories from any source leads to weight gain.

Carbs, Protein and Fat

Most of the calories in the fat-free polenta flour come from its carb content. One-quarter cup of the flour contains 27 grams of carbs, 2 grams of fiber and 3 grams of protein. While the polenta flour is not as good a source of fiber as the whole-wheat flour, which contains 3 grams of fiber per 1/4-cup serving, it can still help you reach your daily fiber needs. You should get 25 grams to 30 grams of fiber from a variety of foods each day, says UCSF Medical Center.

A Little Iron

Like other whole grains, polenta flour can help you meet your daily iron needs. A 1/4-cup serving of the dry flour meets 8 percent of the daily value for iron. Iron is found in every cell in your body and plays an especially important role in helping deliver oxygen to all the parts of your body. Iron is a nutrient of concern because it is the most common cause of anemia in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Using Polenta

If you like grits, polenta flour makes a good substitution. Add low-fat cheese to keep calories and saturated fat low, and make it with healthier proteins such as shrimp. Cooked polenta flour also makes a healthy whole-grain side dish all by itself. Serve it with tomatoes or peppers for vitamin C to help your body absorb more of the iron in the whole-grain corn dish. When cooled polenta solidifies, you can cut it and serve it as a snack or as your "bread" with soup or salad.

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