Mealie meal porridge is a very simple starch to cook but made using the refined grain is very fattening and devoid of good nutrition; I wouldn't call it food unless a person was in dire straits.
Mealie meal porridge is traditionally enjoyed with a lump of butter, milk or cream, and maas, a thick fermented yoghurt made by the Zulu people.
There is no need for sweetening, but one could add a teaspoon of natural honey. Certainly do not use sugar.
All starches, particularly if they are made from refined meal, are glycemic; they are digested in the intestine by the enzyme amylase, starting in the mouth, into glucose molecules which are then absorbed in the small bowel and carried by the blood stream to the liver.
Cooling a starch after cooking allows the molecules to retrograde; they curl into a configuration that makes it more difficult for the amylase to do its work. Consequently the sugars are produced more slowly, and there is less of an effect on blood glucose; literally, it is less fattening.
Consequently more of the starch passes through the small intestine undigested, reaching the colon where it acts as a prebiotic, providing nutrients for the teeming billions of bugs that turn it into very important short-chain fatty acids.
Mealie meal porridge, like many foods, also tastes better when allowed to cool and retrograde. For greater understanding of this complex, important subject, read about the virtues of reheating resistant starch.
Corn, or maize as we call it in South Africa, has 2.1 grams of nutritious fat per cup (164g); not a lot. Roughly one quarter is monounsaturated, a half is a poly and a tenth saturated; there is zero cholesterol.
Enjoyed in whole mealie meal, or a fresh ear of corn, it makes for a very nutritiously meal, albeit deficient in some important amino acids, notably lysine.
Once extracted from the grain, because of the high polyunsaturated oils, it becomes a highly inflammatory substance if used as a salad dressing.
However, once the kernel is split, and oxygen gets in, the fats will start to go rancid. So traditionally, farmers would grind their maize once a week and use it as soon as possible as a feed both for themselves, their staff and their farmyard animals.
Alas, to their great detriment, most South Africans eschew the coarse whole grain in our mealie meal porridge, opting instead for the highly refined option, making us one of the most obese nations in the world.
It's refined grain, not fat in the main that makes humans obese.
Unrefined mealies are a good source of fibre, numerous B vitamins, and phytonutrients, especially lutein and zeaxanthin that help prevent adult onset blindness.
Whilst whole grains have enormous benefits for us, and are not fattening, if you need actually to lose weight you have to get your daily carbohydrate intake below 50g; thus I would not recommend mealie meal porridge for the obese.
Mealie meal porridge is only worth making with freshly ground whole corn.
World's healthiest foods gives a lot more detail on the virtues of using whole corn in making a mealie meal porridge.
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