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Are Grits and Hominy Paleo?

Jeremy Hendon | October 17
are grits and hominy paleo

The standard American diet’s favorite Southern sidekick, grits, and hominy, a popular ingredient in the Mexican soup, posole, are enjoyed by many.

But are they Paleo-friendly indulgences or not-so-Paleo?

Fun Facts About Grits and Hominy

Both hominy and grits are made from corn that has been dried and ground, with the germ and hull removed. First the corn is soaked in an alkali solution, then processed to crush and sift out the kernels.

are grits and hominy paleoIn its whole form, it can be eaten as a cereal or side as hominy, whereas the ground version is grits.

The way the corn is processed is know as nixtamalization, which is a fancy-sounding name with old-world origins. In Mesoamerica around 1500 BC, people found that when they soaked the corn in water mixed with lime (calcium hydroxide) or ashes from burnt trees (potassium hydroxide), it became tastier and more digestible.

This process makes niacin from the corn more available to the body, increases protein content, decreases phytic acid (which binds to minerals and can lead to deficiencies) and decreases contamination from mycotoxins, contaminants that can grow on crops and damage human health.

The bottom line is that corn is a type of grain.

Although it is gluten-free, Corn contains zein, an irritating and inflammatory protein that can trigger food intolerances.

What do the Paleo gurus say?

Mark Sisson says: “The bad is that hominy is corn, a grain with questionable health effects. We generally avoid grains, and they are definitely not Primal. The good is that hominy is nixtamalized, which increases the protein availability, breaks down phytic acid, kills off mycotoxins, and increases the calcium content.

I often talk about foods existing on a spectrum of suitability, and corn is no different. If wheat, barley, rye, and other gluten-containing grains are at one (bad) end, and rice is at the other, nixtamalized corn lies somewhere in the middle, perhaps sharing a ride with oats. (It’s) not Primal, but is “less bad” than some other grains.”

Robb Wolf says: [As an occasional post-workout recovery source of carbs] “Grits could be a good option in a pinch.”

Are Grits and Hominy Paleo?


However, they’re not the worst.

Grits and hominy are perhaps “OK” on a spectrum of Paleo transgressions. There are places to occasionally sneak them if not following a strict Paleo regimen.

Yet as grain-derived foods, they may exacerbate digestive issues, and they’re not particularly nutritious.

There are easy substitutions you can make if you miss the texture and taste of grits and hominy without falling off the Paleo wagon.

Images: Copyright © Ray Sawhill cc photodsotiroff from Fotolia