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Calories in American Cheese

American cheese is available in a range of colors. You can get American cheese slices or cubes in white, orange or yellow color. The ubiquitous plastic wrapped cheese slice may come in different colors, but the only difference between them is the food coloring added. American cheese is naturally white and all slices have the same  nutritional content. Each slice provides you with a fixed amount of protein, fats, vitamins and minerals.

The average calories in 1 slice of American cheese are 100 kcal. The actual calorie count will vary depending on the size of the cheese slice and the manufacturer. In order to differentiate between the types of American cheese available, look at the labeling rather than the color of the cheese. Labels will tell you if the cheese is a ‘pasteurized processed cheese,’ ‘cheese food,’ or a ‘cheese product.’ Also see calorie content in cheese

Legally, these types of cheese contain less than 51 percent of actual, real cheese. When labels proclaim cheese as being ‘Deluxe’ or ‘Classic,’ this means that it contains more than 51 percent of real cheddar or Colby cheese. Deluxe American cheese is found in delis and specialty stores and is available in chunks and blocks and not pre-wrapped slices. You can now also get low-fat American cheese that aims to be a healthier alternative. This can be found in the form of slices or even pre-shredded. One cup of shredded low-fat American cheese has only 203 kcal as compared to the 381 calories in 1 cup of shredded American cheese.

Quite evidently, American cheese is not exactly the healthiest food option available. Calories in American cheese are approximately 80 to 100 kcal for 1 ounce or 1 slice. Calories of 1 oz of white American cheese also ranges around 70 kcal thus indicating not much of a difference in the calorie count of different American cheeses available. Depending on the milk used to make the cheese, the fat content varies. If skim or low-fat milk has been used, the fat content will decrease but nominally. Overall, American cheese is high in saturated fat but contains almost no protein and carbohydrates to balance out its nutritional offerings. It is also fairly high in sodium and contains additives and colorings. On the plus side, it is quite high in calcium and has minerals needed for bone development. Therefore, once in a while it is good to give your kids vegetable sandwiches sprinkled with cheese or stuffed vegetables with cheese as garnish. American cheese is also low in sugar but if you are looking for a healthy sandwich filler or mid-day snack, you would be better off with soft cheeses such as mozzarella or feta or hard ones like cheddar. They are full of flavor and can also be used more sparingly.

A Cheesy Affair!

Processed or American cheese is a convenience food that is created by blending some portions of real cheese such as Cheddar or Colby cheese along with milk, milk fats, solids, salt, whey protein, food coloring, and emulsifiers. The major bulk of American cheese is made up of whey, milk and emulsifiers. In case fillers are needed to add to the mix, cheaper milk proteins are used. Stabilizers such as sodium citrate, sodium phosphate, and sorbic acid are used as well. Real cheese is added at the end of the emulsifying process and is the smallest portion of ingredients. As compared to other cheeses such as cheddar, mozzarella, feta, etc. that have their own distinctive texture and flavors, American cheese can barely be considered a ‘cheese.’ In fact in many products it is labeled as ‘cheese product’ or ‘cheese food.’

This, however, has in no way affected the popularity of American cheese. It still continues to be widely devoured by cheese lovers.  Even today, American cheese is a staple in most children’s lunchboxes, added to all kinds of sandwiches and melted over burgers across the country. Its mild taste, semi-soft texture and ability to melt to just the right stringy consistency, make it a favorite among people of all ages. Enjoy your American cheese in a grilled cheese sandwich, with crackers, as an accompaniment to grapes and slices of apples or slap it on a burger and watch it melt to a delicious gooey mess.

Submitted on January 16, 2014