A recent article in the Huffington Post: “Kraft Singles Are Not Actually Cheese, But They’re Apparently a Health Food Now”. The author and many people in the nutrition world are incredulous that Kraft Singles are being endorsed as a “Kids Eat Right” healthy food choice by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics .
I did a little research into Kraft Singles to see if this indignation is warranted.
Ingredients from greatest to least and nutrition facts:
- Cheddar Cheese, Whey, Milk, Milk Protein Concentrate, Sodium Citrate
- Items that are less than 2% of product: Calcium Phosphate, salt (sodium chloride; don’t forget the sodium in the Sodium Citrate), Lactic acid, Annatto and Paprika (for color), Natamycin (a mold inhibitor), enzymes and cheese culture.
- Nutrition facts for a 19 gm (2/3 ounce) slice: 60 calories, 3 gm protein, 200 mg sodium and 200 mg calcium
How does this compare to natural cheddar cheese (I used Tilamook Medium to compare). Ingredients and nutrition facts:
- Cultured milk, salt, enzymes and Annatto (for color).
- Nutrition facts for a 19 gm slice: 75 calories, 4.74 gm protein, 115 mg sodium and 135 mg calcium
My biggest concern about the Kraft Singles is their high sodium content (9% of the daily recommended for a healthy adult, 13% of that for a person with hypertension or diabetes, but only 3% of typical caloric needs for a day). With more and more research showing that a high sodium diet increases risk for high blood pressure, and damage to internal organs, I’m encouraging all my clients to avoid processed foods as much as possible. Kraft Singles does contain more calcium than natural cheese–that is due to the extra milk solids that Kraft adds; that does not make up for the extra sodium.
Taste? To MY tastebuds, natural cheese is far superior–but everyones’ taste buds differ. If a person is used to a very salty diet, a food that is saltier will taste better–with decreased salt over time, less salty foods will taste just fine.
Do I think the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics should have given this their “Kids Eat Right” seal of approval? NO!
How about plain milk, fresh or frozen fruits, vegetables, plain or low sugar flavored yogurts, beans, lentils……There are far better candidates for the “Kids Eat Right” seal of approval than Kraft Singles.