FoodUnmasking the unhealthy truth of processed cheese: A risk for heart disease and osteoporosis?

Unmasking the unhealthy truth of processed cheese: A risk for heart disease and osteoporosis?

Forbidden sandwich topping - Delicacies
Forbidden sandwich topping - Delicacies
Images source: © Canva | losmandarinas

11:49 AM EST, January 24, 2024

Processed cheese is extremely calorie-dense. While the name might suggest that it's a reliable and trustworthy product (who doesn't enjoy cheese after all), it's important not to be deceived by appearances. The facts that should discourage us from these types of products are typically presented in very small print.

Understanding Processed Cheese

Processed cheese is an offshoot of cheese, produced by melting it with ingredients such as butter, whey powder, emulsifiers, and other flavor enhancers. Unfortunately, these products often have an abundance of preservatives, flavors, emulsifiers, and hardeners, leaving only a small percentage of real cheese. Worse still, there are products available that don't contain any cheese at all - these are labelled as cheese-like products or melted creams.

The hydrogenated vegetable fats present in processed cheeses contribute to the increase of bad cholesterol in our bodies, potentially leading to atherosclerosis and other heart diseases. Additionally, phosphates, which are often used as preservatives in these products, can result in a calcium deficiency, possibly causing osteoporosis.

Inferior Ingredients, Inferior Quality

What other ingredients can we find in these products? Stabilizers, colorants, emulsifiers, flavor enhancers, and other flavors all make the list. The latter often accounts for the "mushroom" or "herb" flavor of the cheeses. Another downside is the significant calorie content of these cheeses - 100 grams can amount to as much as 300 calories.

Melted cheese
Melted cheese© Adobe Stock

It's worthwhile considering reducing the consumption of such products. Of course, occasionally indulging in melted cheese won't substantially harm your health. However, it's more beneficial to opt for unprocessed cheeses or to prepare melted snacks yourself. If you still intend to purchase melted cheese, it's advisable to select products that include shorter ingredient lists, where cheese is prominently listed at the top.

Which Cheese Products to Avoid?

So, which melted cheeses should we avoid? The first candidates are those that do not contain real cheese and are excessively high in sugar and salt, as well as being loaded with preservatives like sodium nitrite (E250), sodium sorbate (E 201), potassium sorbate (E202), sodium benzoate (E211). Products with modified starch, guar gum, xanthan gum, and carrageenan should also be set aside.

processed cheese
processed cheese© Getty Images | Peter Andrew Bosch
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