Is American Cheese Bad For You?

Is American Cheese Bad For You?

July 16, 2016   25 Comments

Today, we are going to delve into a serious topic – American cheese.

Maybe many of you have already decided that American cheese is bad for you or unhealthy but I bet many are confused about what American cheese is.

First, American cheese isn’t cheese. Isn’t that confusing? It says what it is right under the word “American” in a hard to read color – “pasteurized prepared cheese product”.

James Lewis Kraft, the Kraft company’s founder, figured out a way to keep cheddar cheese from going bad by breaking it down, sterilizing it to kill the bacteria that causes cheese to mold, and, finally, reconstituting it into a square that could be cut into slices.

Therefore, American cheese is a “cheese product” not actual cheese.

Let’s look at a few of the big differences between American cheese product and cheddar:

  • American has 14 ingredients – cheddar has 4
  • American is sold in wrapped individual slices – cheddar is in blocks (and sometimes slices)
  • American will stay “fresh” for a year – cheddar’s shelf life is limited

Lunchables include a form of American cheese in the Worst Snacks to Eat so that it can be tossed into a backpack.

Here are the ingredients in Kraft American cheese product:


Here are the ingredients in cheddar cheese:

Pasteurized milk, cheese cultures, salt, enzymes

The nutrition information is a bit tough to compare because a slice of American is less than an ounce of cheddar – but I did the math so that we could get a fair comparision.

Nutrition facts for one ounce of American cheese product:

90 calories, 6 g fat, 3.75 g saturated fat, 1.5 g carbohydrates, 1.5 g sugar, 4.5 g protein, 0 g fiber, 300 mg sodium, 3 Smart Pts

Nutrition facts for one ounce of cheddar:

110 calories, 9 g fat, 2.5 g saturated fat, 0 g carbohydrates, 0 g sugar, 7 g protein, 0 g fiber, 180 mg sodium, 3 Smart Pts

When I look at this, I think cheddar wins as the better choice. It has less saturated fat and almost half the sodium and TWICE the protein.

I don’t think American cheese product is bad for you but I do think that cheddar is a far better choice.

Just take a look at it. Does it look appetizing? It tastes very strange, is incredibly bland, and is rubbery. It tastes a bit like the plastic that it is wrapped in.

I can’t imagine someone from Quebec (a region of Canada famous for making over 300 cheeses) even recognizing this stuff as even related to cheese.

My favorite way to eat cheddar (REAL CHEESE) is to grill it on a slice of tomato and whole wheat toast – yum!

Do you eat American cheese product? Or do you prefer the real thing?

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First 20 Comments: [ see all 25 ]

I've been telling my family for years that American cheese isn't worthy of being called cheese - thank you for giving me some evidence!

on July 16, 2016

No surprise on American "cheese." What about the slices and shreds of Velveeta - now in flavors of cheddar, mozzarella, etc.?

on July 16, 2016

What about the American cheese from the deli, that they slice from a big block? Is that any different? It looks and tastes better. :-)

on July 16, 2016

Similiar question to Cheryl...I often get Land O' Lakes or Boar's Head American cheese sliced in the deli and I'm wondering if that is real cheese or not?

on July 16, 2016

Oh my word! This is one of the most disgusting products ever! A total waste of money! I think it falls into the category of biting into a block of paraffin wax. I can't understand why anyone would even consider eating a cheese substitute! Must be something wrong with their taste buds. Or maybe MY taste buds are super sensitive. Worst of all of is that long list of ingredients required to give it a semblance of taste.

on July 16, 2016

@Jenny & @Cheryl Thank you for this question! It seems to depend on the brand whether or not "American" is cheese or processed cheese product. Boar's Head brand is actually cheese - "a mix of cheddars". Land-o-Lakes is not - but the ingredient list looks better than Kraft. My advice is to ask the deli counter person to show you the label before you buy it - or skip it and get cheddar.

Thank you again - I totally forgot about Deli counter cheese.

on July 16, 2016

@Kay - Great question! Velveeta is made by Kraft and is processed cheese product - not cheese. I couldn't find the other flavors on line but I believe that anything "Velveeta" would not be real cheese. When you pick it up, look hard and see if it can call itself "cheese" or "pasteurized cheese product".

Thanks so much!

on July 16, 2016

I'm not eating anything with added sugar, so that decision is easy. However due to the unappetizing appearance of American sliced cheese, I would never eat it anyway. Thanks for your confirmation that I'm not missing anything here.

on July 16, 2016

I hear you about American cheese.
Borden, for example, makes a fat free American. For 2 slices it is: 60 calories, 0 fat, 0 saturated fat, 6 carbs, 0 fiber, 2 sugars, 8 grams protein. 1 Smartpoint.
Sargento Ultra Thin Sharp Cheddar, for 2 slices is: 86.7 calories, 7.3 grams fat, 4 grams saturated fat, .7 carbs, 0 fiber, 0 sugar, 5.3 grams protein. 3 Smartpoint.
Do we say yes to more chemicals and no saturated fat or do we say yes to a more natural ptoduct with significant saturated fat?
So many choices out there now....

on July 16, 2016

Good Mornig from Quebec!!!
I've been reading you for a while and what a surprise this morning, you are talking about my home!!! We do have a lot and wonderful cheeses in Quebec, my favorite is the "Riopelle"wich is made in L'Île aux grues, an island in the beautiful St-Laurent. But 30-40 years ago, we didn't have all those cheeses in Quebec and I remember my mom on a diet (Weight Watchers!) eating, EVERY MORNING, a slice of white bread with a slice of american cheese on top of it, puting that in the toaster oven to Broil...Wow, thanks to people like you, we have more options now = )
(I'm a french canadian, sorry for my "bad writing")

on July 16, 2016

Agreed on American cheese, although my kids like it on their sandwiches - good info on the Boar's Head - I'll look for that type of option!

I try to use real cheeses like gorgonzola or feta to get real cheese taste, but because you use only a little, you are controlling fat & calories (I could plow through an entire plate of cheese & crackers.)

I'm assuming the Laughing Cow cheese wedges are also processed (need to go check the label), but I like the portion control.

on July 16, 2016

@Magdeleine--There is no need to apologize--I can "hear" your delightful French-Canadian accent in your writing. I think it is wonderful that readers across the globe enjoy Snack Girl's posts as much as we do in the U.S.A.! I never thought much about "American" cheese until today! Thanks, Snack Girl!!!

on July 16, 2016

I THOUGHT THAT THE DELI AMERICAN CHEESE WAS REAL AND THAT Land O LAKES WAS A GOOD brand but one day when I was ordering on Peapod (a grocery home delivery) I looked at the ingredients and YES BOAR's HEAD is real american now only Boar's Head for me, it's delicious!

on July 16, 2016

I tried Kraft pre-sliced AC once. It tastes like plastic to me. Having been raised on grilled cheese made with deli-sliced Land O Lakes [and not-so-good-for-you Pepperidge Farm white bread] I'm guilty of still buying deli-american cheese. It melts so nicely. As much as I love a good crumbly cheddar, I still like AC on crackers too, it breaks into 4 pieces easily and its kind of sweet. LOL used to be the premium AC but since Boars Head came on the scene, I do like theirs better. I agree, a grilled cheddar cheese especially on an artisan bread with tomato is outstanding. But occasionally, I still like the childhood comfort of grilled AC with tomato soup.

This was an informative review and its nice to know Boars Head is made of actual cheese.

on July 16, 2016

We love American cheese and it has that great melty factor for grilled cheese sandwiches. Kraft's daughter lived to 96 years old and I think she must have eaten American cheese in those 96 years.
James Lewis lived to 78 years and passed 1953 only two years after having the Kraft cheese go widely commercial. Apparently it didn't hurt him either.
There is the cheese enzyme and lots of milk used to make Kraft American singles. : )

on July 16, 2016

Hi, I am English and until 4 months ago lived 9 miles from the village of Cheddar in Somerset. Real cheese is and can be made at home or by small industry. Plastic cheese needs chemists etc to help devise the formula and to test it. I know which I want. REAL cheese. Shame that Cheddar cheese cannot be protected and made solely in Cheddar but I guess that they would not be able to produce enough to feed the worldwide markets for it.

Cheddar Cheese made here, in Cheddar is aged in the caves and has a wonderful taste to it. Nothing like other makes. Yes, it is much more expensive but oh what a treat.

on July 16, 2016

We've been calling Ameican cheese, Velveeta, spray cheese,etc. "plastic cheese" for years. I'm pretty sure it's an accurate description...

on July 16, 2016

Absolutely NO American or Velveeta in our house! Got to have the real deal,and the stats prove why!

on July 16, 2016

I remember my mother eating that same WW "recipe" AC broiled on white bread in the early 1970s! We have made a bit of progress.

on July 16, 2016

Hi! I'm from Quebec too! And growing up we used to call this plastic cheese and I now realize for all the right reasons lol

on July 16, 2016

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