Polenta Benefits + Side Effects

By Adriane Marie •  Updated: 03/03/22 •  10 min read
polenta benefits and side effects

HEALTH

Energy: polenta is good for / helps feeling full longer, prevent eye diseases like age-related macular degeneration and dementia, regulate blood sugar levels

Longevity: polenta is good for / helps detoxification, prevent heart disease, diabetes, cancer, reduce inflammation

Appearance: polenta is bad for / increases the risk of weight gain

Polenta is…

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Teach Kids Where Food Comes From. Look Inside!

ENVIRONMENT

Water footprint: low, it takes 1,081 liters of water to produce 1 kilogram of cornmeal / 130 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of cornmeal

Carbon footprint: likely low, 0.60 kg CO2e to produce 1 kilogram or 2.2 pounds of dry corn, a car driving equivalent of 1.5 miles or 2.5 kilometers

Destruction: high, polenta production is relatively destructive, corn depletes nitrogen and other important nutrients from the soil, more than a third of U.S. corn is used for animal feed, another third grown for ethanol for cars, 92% of corn crops grown in the US in 2016 was genetically modified (GMO), crops are modified to increase yield and improve resistance to insects, disease or chemicals used to kill pests

Polenta is…

ANIMALS

Kills: none, cornmeal production does not require any animals to be killed

Harms: none, cornmeal production does not require any animals to be used

Indirectly kills or harms: none, no animals are indirectly killed or harmed from cornmeal production as long as toxic chemicals have not been used, be sure to buy Non-GMO/organic, as pesticides harm and kill wildlife and ecosystems by contaminating soil, water, air and plants that animals eat

Polenta is…

LABORERS

Health and safety: varies, overall, agriculture continues to be one of the most dangerous industries, farmworkers may be subject to dehydration, heat stroke, unprotected exposure to harmful, toxic chemicals and pesticides, unsafe machinery and clean drinking water may not always accessible

Living conditions: varies, laborers are often exploited, they may face tough working conditions including long hours in the sun and heat performing physically exhausting tasks, labor laws and rights may or may not be in place, even if worker protection exists, employer violations may go unreported, refugees and migrant workers are especially vulnerable to abuse and mistreatment, fearing consequences of job loss or deportation

Wages: varies, generally farmworkers earn meager wages, there are many cases of underpaid agricultural workers, wage theft and no overtime payment or benefits

Polenta…

Where does most polenta come from?

The world’s leading producer of corn is the USA followed by China, Brazil, India, Argentina, Ukraine, Mexico and Indonesia. Polenta originated in Northern Italy.

Is polenta nutritious?

Yes, polenta is rich in antioxidants and carotenoids like carotenes, lutein, zeaxanthin and more.

polenta is gluten free.

glutinous foods have side effects but a gluten free diet can help

Is polenta gluten free? Yes, polenta is gluten free. Polenta does not contain gluten. Polenta is made from corn, therefore making it a naturally gluten free food. 

While celiac disease may not be as rampant as many marketing trends lead us to believe, you may have a gluten sensitivity…

Celiac and gluten sensitivity symptoms are similar and may include:

There are hundreds of potential symptoms, many of which are also symptoms of other conditions.

Going gluten-free easier than ever with this: Gluten and Gluten Free Foods List

polenta is not a common food allergen.

side effects of common food allergens like milk, wheat, soy, fish, tree nuts, peanuts, eggs and crustaceans

Is polenta a common food allergen? No, polenta is not a common food allergen. Some people may experience allergic reactions to polenta but it is relatively rare by comparison.

A group of the eight major allergenic foods, AKA the Big-8, include:

These foods account for about 90% of all food allergies in the United States.

Severe food allergies can be life threatening. Following ingestion of a food allergen, a person with food allergies can experience a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. 

Persons may still be allergic to and have serious reactions to foods other than the eight foods identified by the law.

Be aware of common dietary restrictions and food allergens with this: The Big 8 Most Common Food Allergens List

polenta likely has a low water footprint.

water footprints of food and products

Do polenta have a high or low water footprint? Polenta likely has a relatively low water footprint compared to other foods.

What is the water footprint of polenta? It takes 1,081 liters of water to produce 1 kilogram of cornmeal / 130 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of cornmeal.

Did you know that water is a finite, non-renewable resource? Once it’s gone, it’s gone!

We must do what we can to conserve fresh water and a major way to reduce needless water consumption is to change the way we eat. That’s not to say we need to reduce our water intake….quite the opposite. It’s important for our health to drink lots of water and eat foods that hydrate. The kind of water conservation we’re talking about here is behind the scenes.

How much water does it take to produce an apple? A serving of rice? A steak dinner?

We need to be aware of something referred to as a “water footprint”. That is, the amount of fresh water utilized in the production or supply of goods we consume. As it turns out it takes significantly more water to yield foods that come from animals than foods that come from plants. Imagine how much water a cow needs to consume to generate a piece of beef. Not only how much water a single cow drinks, rather all the water that went into producing the crops that the cow ate.

Find out how much water your food consumes with this: Water Footprints of Foods and Ingredients List

polenta likely has a low carbon footprint.

carbon footprints of food and food emissions

Does polenta have a high or low carbon footprint? Polenta likely has a relatively low carbon footprint compared to other foods.

What is the carbon footprint of polenta? It takes around 0.60 kg CO2e to produce 1 kilogram or 2.2 pounds of dry corn, a car driving equivalent of 1.5 miles or 2.5 kilometers.

Food not only has a water footprint but also a carbon footprint, known as CO2e, which stands for carbon dioxide equivalent. Since carbon measurements are a bit more difficult to comprehend, it is common to equate CO2e to the distance which a car drives in miles or kilometers.

When calculating product emissions, some factors that may be included are… farm equipment, animal feed production, hothouses (greenhouses), food processing, packaging, transport, refrigeration, freezing, package waste, and more.

There are a number of steps we can take to reduce energy output. According to Oxford Martin School researchers, if the world went vegan, eliminating animal-derived products, it could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by two thirds and avoid climate damages of $1.5 trillion.

But that’s not all!

It’s best to keep the following in mind when grocery shopping:

Find out how much carbon your food emits with this: Carbon Footprints of Foods and Ingredients List

polenta is unsustainable, organic is more sustainable.

sustainable shopping, for eco friendly brands and products good for the environment

Overall, is polenta eco friendly? Is polenta sustainable?

Polenta production is relatively unsustainable, as it comes from corn which uses heavy amounts of pesticides.

A 2018 Oxford University study – which is the most comprehensive analysis to date of the damage farming does to the planet – found that ‘avoiding meat and dairy is the single biggest way to reduce your impact on Earth’ as animal farming provides just 18% of calories but takes up 83% of our farmland.

Consuming animal products and byproducts is not environmentally friendly and is one of the worst things for the Earth. Not only is meat production wasteful, it causes enormous amounts of pollution. The industry is one of the biggest causes of climate change.

A 2010 United Nations report said that a global shift towards a vegan diet is vital to save the world the worst impacts of climate change.

polenta is vegan.

benefits of vegan food to eat on a vegan diet which helps save animals

Is polenta vegan? Yes, polenta is vegan. Polenta is made from boiled cornmeal and not an animal product or byproduct, therefore making it a vegan food. 

According to Sentient Media, “more than 200 million land animals are killed for food around the world every day. Including wild-caught and farmed fishes, we get a total closer to 3 billion animals killed daily.”

Animals of factory farms and the livestock industry are suffering. They live in horrific conditions that often include confinement, physical abuse and unnatural environments…so much so that they need to receive antibiotics to keep from getting ill or spreading disease. They’re also injected with growth hormones to become fatter faster and live short lives, being slaughtered as soon as they finish growing and are killed prematurely, well before their natural lifespan.

Because we cannot see for ourselves how these animals live and what they endure does not mean it isn’t happening. The meat, poultry and dairy industries do everything they can to distance us from knowing how our food comes to be in order to keep us in the dark about what we support each time we buy animal derived products and byproducts.

Go vegan for animals!

It’s the best way to help animals and it’s not as difficult as you may think. Speak for animals with your actions, for they cannot speak at all.

Going vegan is easier than ever, at a glance with this: Vegan and Non-Vegan Foods List

polenta may have labor issues and human rights concerns.

benefits of buying fair trade, labor rights, human rights and workers rights issues

Is polenta a product with labor concerns?

At this time there have been no major concerns with polenta production but that doesn’t mean it isn’t happening!

It’s important to stay aware of human rights concerns and worker exploitation that may come with specific brands.

Did you know the single largest employer in the world is agriculture? The labor involved behind each and every product cannot go unrecognized. 

Sadly, many labor concerns exist around the world in both developed and developing countries. We must be vigilant to ensure what we buy is not contributing to industries that are unfair to their valuable workers. Some known problems include workplace health and safety, child labor, gender inequality, inadequate pay, wage theft and exploitation. Workers can even experience harassment, humiliation and violence and unfair employers often fail to provide laborers with access to shade, drinking water, restrooms and breaks. Consequently, laborers can face nausea, dizziness, heat exhaustion, dehydration and heat stroke -the leading cause of farmworker death! 

Such mistreatment is like modern day slavery. Workers are often afraid to report issues because they fear it will result in losing their jobs or deportation. 

Fair trade organizations fight to ensure better social, environmental and economic standards. 

We can improve people’s lives with foods we eat every day simply by buying products that are certified fair trade. 

Sources:

polenta – FoodData Central

Adriane Marie

Self-proclaimed Grocery Guru, Material Maven and all around Conscious Consumer Connoisseur. I organize ethical info for us to comprehensively see how purchases impact people, animals and the planet. I hope you find HEALabel helpful and use it for personal and global improvement and empowerment.

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