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American cheese vs Cheddar - Nutrition, calories and health impact

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Article author photo Victoria Mazmanyan by Victoria Mazmanyan | Last updated on June 19, 2023
Medically reviewed by Astghik Grigoryan Article author photo Astghik Grigoryan
American cheese
vs
Cheddar Cheese

Summary

Cheddar is denser in nutrients and, therefore, higher in calories, protein, and fats. However, American cheese contains more carbohydrates.

Cheddar is richer in vitamins, such as folate, vitamins B1 and B2, while American cheese has more minerals, such as iron, calcium, copper, and potassium.

While both types of cheese can positively impact health, cheddar may have a more beneficial effect as it is a natural cheese with a lower content of sodium and trans fats.

Introduction

Cheese is an incredibly versatile dairy product with dozens of distinct varieties. Each of these varieties is set apart by its differing appearance, taste, texture, nutrition, and much more.

Today, we will be comparing American cheese and cheddar to see which is the more favorable option in terms of nutrition and health.

Classification

Cheddar cheese originated in and was named after the town of Cheddar in England. Earliest records of this cheese date back to the 12th century (1). Today, the requirements for cheddar cheese are a minimum of 50% fat content and a maximum of 39% moisture content (2). In other words, cheddar is a hard and dry cheese.

American cheese is a type of processed cheese made from cheddar cheese, washed curd cheese, Colby cheese, granular cheese, or any mixture of two or more of these (3). This cheese is relatively young, with the first commercial processed cheese being produced in 1911, surprisingly not in the US but in Switzerland (4). American cheese has similar requirements to cheddar cheese, which are a minimum of 50% milkfat content and a maximum of 40% moisture (5).

Production

Traditionally, cheddar is made from cow milk. The manufacture of cheddar consists of preparing and standardizing milk, adding starter culture with rennet, coagulating milk, cutting the coagulum into small cubes, and heating and agitating the cubes. Later the whey is removed, and the curd is fused into slabs, continuously stirred, salted, and finally pressed․ After this long process, cheddar is required to be aged from two months to two years before consumption (2).

American cheese is processed from natural cheeses by melting and emulsifying with suitable salts. Later reformed and packaged into slices (4).

Appearance

Both of these cheese types come in shades of yellow, orange, or white. The yellow pigment is usually the result of a food coloring called annatto.

Cheddar usually comes in blocks, while American cheese is pre-packaged into slices.

Taste and Use

The taste of cheddar is often described as sharp and creamy. On the other hand, American cheese has a milder taste and a slightly salty flavor.

Cheddar and American cheese have the same melting point of 150°F (66°C). This makes them perfect for grilled cheese or as ingredients in various cooked meals.

Nutrition

The nutritional values in this article are presented for pasteurized, processed American cheese, with no added vitamin D and cheddar cheese.

Macronutrients and Calories

Cheddar cheese is relatively denser in nutrients compared to American cheese. Cheddar consists of 37% water, while American cheese contains 40% water.

American cheese and cheddar both have the same average serving sizes, equal to 1oz or 28.35g.

Calories

Both of these types of cheese are high-calorie foods; however, cheddar is higher in calories. A 100g serving of American cheese contains 371 calories, while the same serving size of cheddar provides 404 calories.

Protein and Fats

Cheddar is richer in both protein and fats.

For every 100g serving, cheddar provides 5g more protein when compared to American cheese.

Cheddar and American cheese are both high in all essential amino acids. However, cheddar is richer in almost all essential amino acids except for lysine.

Cheddar is only slightly higher in fats; however, American cheese is higher in trans fats and cholesterol.

The predominant fat type found in both cheddar and American cheese is saturated fat, followed by monounsaturated fat, leaving polyunsaturated fat in the last place.

Carbohydrates

While both of these foods are not very high in carbohydrates, American cheese contains a higher level of sugar.

The sugar content of American cheese is made up of mostly lactose and galactose. In addition to those, cheddar also contains glucose.

Cheddar and American cheese do not contain dietary fiber.

Vitamins

Although American cheese and cheddar have similar vitamin contents, cheddar is richer in more vitamins. Cheddar provides over three times more of the daily value of folate needed. Cheddar is also richer in vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, and vitamin A.

American cheese, on the other hand, contains higher levels of vitamin B12, vitamin B3, and vitamin E.

Cheddar and American cheese contain similar amounts of vitamin D, vitamin B5, and vitamin K. Both of these foods are completely absent in vitamin C.

Vitamin Comparison

Vitamin comparison score is based on the number of vitamins by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" charts below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food.
:
Contains more Vitamin E +12.7%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +28.8%
Contains more Vitamin B12 +36.4%
Contains more Choline +119.4%
Contains more Vitamin A +31.4%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +93.3%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +82.9%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +22.2%
Contains more Folate +237.5%
Equal in Vitamin D - 0.6
Equal in Vitamin B5 - 0.41
Equal in Vitamin K - 2.4
Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin C Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Folate Vitamin B12 Choline Vitamin K 57% 16% 18% 0% 4% 54% 2% 25% 13% 6% 188% 20% 7%
Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin C Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Folate Vitamin B12 Choline Vitamin K 75% 15% 18% 0% 8% 99% 2% 25% 16% 21% 138% 9% 6%
Contains more Vitamin E +12.7%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +28.8%
Contains more Vitamin B12 +36.4%
Contains more Choline +119.4%
Contains more Vitamin A +31.4%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +93.3%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +82.9%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +22.2%
Contains more Folate +237.5%
Equal in Vitamin D - 0.6
Equal in Vitamin B5 - 0.41
Equal in Vitamin K - 2.4

Minerals

American cheese wins in the mineral category. American cheese contains over four times more iron, as well as more calcium, potassium, phosphorus, copper, manganese, and choline.

At the same time, cheddar is richer in zinc and selenium. Cheddar is also significantly lower in sodium, containing 2.5 times less sodium than American cheese.

Mineral Comparison

Mineral comparison score is based on the number of minerals by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" charts below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food.
Contains more Calcium +47.2%
Contains more Iron +350%
Contains more Phosphorus +40.9%
Contains more Potassium +73.7%
Contains more Copper +53.3%
Contains more Manganese +51.9%
Contains less Sodium -60.9%
Contains more Zinc +46.2%
Contains more Selenium +41.1%
Equal in Magnesium - 27
Calcium Iron Magnesium Phosphorus Potassium Sodium Zinc Copper Manganese Selenium 314% 24% 19% 275% 12% 218% 68% 16% 6% 111%
Calcium Iron Magnesium Phosphorus Potassium Sodium Zinc Copper Manganese Selenium 213% 6% 20% 195% 7% 86% 100% 10% 4% 156%
Contains more Calcium +47.2%
Contains more Iron +350%
Contains more Phosphorus +40.9%
Contains more Potassium +73.7%
Contains more Copper +53.3%
Contains more Manganese +51.9%
Contains less Sodium -60.9%
Contains more Zinc +46.2%
Contains more Selenium +41.1%
Equal in Magnesium - 27

Glycemic Index

The glycemic index of most types of cheese is incredibly hard to measure, as they are very low in carbohydrates.

Based on the numbers from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, cheddar cheese has a glycemic index of 0, while the glycemic index of low-fat processed cheese is equal to 10 (6).

As we can see, while both of these foods have very low glycemic index values, the glycemic index of American cheese is higher compared to that of cheddar.

If you’re interested in reading more about the glycemic effect of cheddar cheese on blood glucose levels, you can visit our “Cheddar cheese” page.

Acidity

The required range for the pH values of processed American cheese is 5.3 to 5.8, making American cheese acidic (5).

Traditional cheddar has a pH of around 4.9, but nowadays, there are cheddars present with a pH of up to 5.3 (1).

Most cheddar cheese is slightly more acidic than American cheese.

An alternative way of measuring the acidity of foods is the potential renal acid load. The PRAL value demonstrates the ability of the food to break down to acids or bases inside the organism.

The PRAL values for cheddar and American cheese are 16.5 and 15.6, respectively. This shows us that cheddar is slightly more acid-producing than American cheese.

Weight Loss & Diets

American cheese and cheddar are both high-calorie foods; however, cheddar contains relatively more calories than American cheese.

Between these two foods, American cheese is the better option for low-calorie and low-fat diets. At the same time, cheddar is the preferred choice for low-carb and low-glycemic-index diets.

Cheese is often avoided on weight loss diets due to its high fat content. However, some studies have found cheese consumption not to promote weight gain but potentially reduce body fat and augment muscle mass (7).

Low intake of both fresh and processed cheese has demonstrated a higher prevalence of excess weight compared to higher consumption of cheese, showing an inverse association between cheese consumption and excess weight (8).

Cheese is relatively low in carbohydrates; therefore, both cheddar and American cheese are acceptable to consume in moderation on a keto diet.

While cheddar can be consumed in moderation during the Mediterranean and some forms of Paleo diets, both diets exclude processed products, such as American cheese.

Health Benefits

Despite the negative attention cheese gets due to its high saturated fat and calorie content, both cheddar and American cheese can have positive effects on health.

Cardiovascular Health

Due to its high calcium content and certain bioactive peptides, cheese has also been found to have a positive effect on high blood pressure (9). However, due to the high sodium content of American cheese, cheddar may be the better choice for people with high blood pressure.

In addition, Cheddar cheese has an ACE (angiotensin-converting enzyme) inhibitory activity so that it may decrease arterial blood pressure like some antihypertensive drugs (Captopril, Ramipril, etc.). This study found that increasing the ripening temperature from 4 °C to 8 and 12 °C enhanced the proportion of ACE inhibition (10).

Both of these cheeses are high in saturated fats, which consumption may increase LDL (bad cholesterol) levels in the blood (11). Which in turn increases the risk of developing coronary artery disease, one of the complications of which is myocardial infarction.

It should be noted that these cheeses, along with others, contain tyramine, which may cause a hypertensive crisis (blood pressure of 180/120 mm Hg or higher; a hypertensive crisis is a potentially fatal medical condition that can result in a heart attack or stroke) in patients taking MAO inhibitors (particularly antidepressants).

Bone Health

Everyone can take a few basic steps to prevent or decrease bone loss, which is a physiological process that is affected by a variety of circumstances. One of these steps is including enough calcium, good sources of which are cheeses. The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for individuals aged 19 to 50 and men aged 51 to 70 is 1,000 mg of calcium per day. For women aged 51 and above and males aged 71 and up, the daily dose is increased to 1,200 mg (12).

It should be noted that preventing bone loss is a major concern for women in their postmenopausal years. Menopause is the most typical cause of osteoporosis (13).

Without adequate vitamin D and calcium, bones may not grow properly as a kid and may lose bulk, become weak, and break easily as an adult. Even if you get enough calcium, your body won't absorb it if you don't get enough vitamin D.

Diabetes

Cheddar and American cheese are very low glycemic index foods; however, the glycemic index of cheddar is lower.

Some studies have found an inverse association between cheese consumption and type 2 diabetes mellitus risk, while others find no association between the two (14).

Cancer

There is strong evidence that dairy consumption decreases the risk of colorectal cancer (15).

Intake of fermented dairy products, such as cheese, has been found to decrease bladder and esophageal cancer risk significantly (16).

Downsides and Risks

Cancer

While cheese consumption can have a protective effect against some forms of cancer, both American cheese and cheddar have been associated with an increased risk of breast cancer (17).

Due to the high calcium content, high cheese intake might also increase the risk of prostate cancer (18).

Neurological Health

Frequent cheese and dairy consumption might lead to an increased risk of Parkinson’s disease and its more rapid progression (19. 20).

Digestive Health

Lactose is found in milk and dairy products such as these cheeses. Lactose-intolerant people cannot digest lactose properly in the small intestine. Lactose intolerance is characterized by loose, watery stools, stomach bloating and pain, increased flatulence, and diaper rash. It most usually occurs after an incident of infectious gastroenteritis (known as secondary lactose intolerance), when the gut mucosal injury causes a lactase deficit (21).

Lactose-intolerant people need to reduce their consumption of dairy products.

Article author photo Victoria Mazmanyan
Education: General Medicine at YSMU
Last updated: June 19, 2023
Medically reviewed by Astghik Grigoryan

Infographic

American cheese vs Cheddar Cheese infographic
Infographic link

Macronutrient Comparison

Macronutrient breakdown side-by-side comparison
Contains more Carbs +19.7%
Contains more Other +82.5%
Contains more Protein +26.1%
Equal in Fats - 33.31
Equal in Water - 37.02
18% 32% 4% 40% 7%
Protein: 18.13 g
Fats: 31.79 g
Carbs: 3.7 g
Water: 39.61 g
Other: 6.77 g
23% 33% 3% 37% 4%
Protein: 22.87 g
Fats: 33.31 g
Carbs: 3.09 g
Water: 37.02 g
Other: 3.71 g
Contains more Carbs +19.7%
Contains more Other +82.5%
Contains more Protein +26.1%
Equal in Fats - 33.31
Equal in Water - 37.02

Fat Type Comparison

Fat type breakdown side-by-side comparison
Contains more Monounsaturated Fat +12.3%
Contains more Polyunsaturated fat +10.5%
Equal in Saturated Fat - 18.867
65% 30% 5%
Saturated Fat: 18.057 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 8.236 g
Polyunsaturated fat: 1.286 g
64% 31% 5%
Saturated Fat: 18.867 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 9.246 g
Polyunsaturated fat: 1.421 g
Contains more Monounsaturated Fat +12.3%
Contains more Polyunsaturated fat +10.5%
Equal in Saturated Fat - 18.867

Carbohydrate type comparison

Carbohydrate type breakdown side-by-side comparison
Contains more Lactose +1691.7%
Contains more Glucose +∞%
Equal in Galactose - 0.1
95% 5%
Starch: 0 g
Sucrose: 0 g
Glucose: 0 g
Fructose: 0 g
Lactose: 2.15 g
Maltose: 0 g
Galactose: 0.11 g
54% 25% 21%
Starch: 0 g
Sucrose: 0 g
Glucose: 0.26 g
Fructose: 0 g
Lactose: 0.12 g
Maltose: 0 g
Galactose: 0.1 g
Contains more Lactose +1691.7%
Contains more Glucose +∞%
Equal in Galactose - 0.1

Comparison summary table

Pay attention to the rightmost column. It displays the amounts side by side, giving a clearer understanding of the difference.
American cheese Cheddar Cheese
Lower in Sugar ok
Lower in Sodium ok
Lower in Cholesterol ok
Lower in Glycemic Index ok
Lower in price ok
Lower in Saturated Fat ok
Rich in minerals ok
Rich in vitamins Equal

All nutrients comparison - raw data values

Nutrient American cheese Cheddar Cheese Opinion
Net carbs 3.7g 3.09g American cheese
Protein 18.13g 22.87g Cheddar Cheese
Fats 31.79g 33.31g Cheddar Cheese
Carbs 3.7g 3.09g American cheese
Calories 371kcal 404kcal Cheddar Cheese
Sugar 2.26g 0.48g Cheddar Cheese
Calcium 1045mg 710mg American cheese
Iron 0.63mg 0.14mg American cheese
Magnesium 26mg 27mg Cheddar Cheese
Phosphorus 641mg 455mg American cheese
Potassium 132mg 76mg American cheese
Sodium 1671mg 653mg Cheddar Cheese
Zinc 2.49mg 3.64mg Cheddar Cheese
Copper 0.046mg 0.03mg American cheese
Manganese 0.041mg 0.027mg American cheese
Selenium 20.2µg 28.5µg Cheddar Cheese
Vitamin A 945IU 1242IU Cheddar Cheese
Vitamin A RAE 250µg 330µg Cheddar Cheese
Vitamin E 0.8mg 0.71mg American cheese
Vitamin D 23IU 24IU Cheddar Cheese
Vitamin D 0.6µg 0.6µg
Vitamin B1 0.015mg 0.029mg Cheddar Cheese
Vitamin B2 0.234mg 0.428mg Cheddar Cheese
Vitamin B3 0.076mg 0.059mg American cheese
Vitamin B5 0.403mg 0.41mg Cheddar Cheese
Vitamin B6 0.054mg 0.066mg Cheddar Cheese
Folate 8µg 27µg Cheddar Cheese
Vitamin B12 1.5µg 1.1µg American cheese
Choline 36.2mg 16.5mg American cheese
Vitamin K 2.6µg 2.4µg American cheese
Tryptophan 0.232mg 0.547mg Cheddar Cheese
Threonine 0.772mg 1.044mg Cheddar Cheese
Isoleucine 0.938mg 1.206mg Cheddar Cheese
Leucine 1.716mg 1.939mg Cheddar Cheese
Lysine 1.516mg 1.025mg American cheese
Methionine 0.475mg 0.547mg Cheddar Cheese
Phenylalanine 0.939mg 1.074mg Cheddar Cheese
Valine 1.187mg 1.404mg Cheddar Cheese
Histidine 0.546mg 0.547mg Cheddar Cheese
Cholesterol 100mg 99mg Cheddar Cheese
Trans Fat 1.144g 0.917g Cheddar Cheese
Saturated Fat 18.057g 18.867g American cheese
Omega-3 - DHA 0.006g 0.001g American cheese
Omega-3 - EPA 0.012g 0.01g American cheese
Omega-3 - DPA 0.021g 0.017g American cheese
Monounsaturated Fat 8.236g 9.246g Cheddar Cheese
Polyunsaturated fat 1.286g 1.421g Cheddar Cheese
Omega-6 - Eicosadienoic acid 0.009g 0.007g American cheese
Omega-6 - Linoleic acid 0.79g American cheese
Omega-6 - Gamma-linoleic acid 0.001g American cheese
Omega-3 - ALA 0.137g American cheese
Omega-3 - Eicosatrienoic acid 0.001g American cheese
Omega-6 - Dihomo-gamma-linoleic acid 0.033g American cheese

Which food is preferable for your diet?

ok
ok
is better in case of low diet
American cheese Cheddar Cheese
Low Fats diet ok
Low Carbs diet ok
Low Calories diet ok
Low Glycemic Index diet ok

People also compare

Vitamins & Minerals Daily Need Coverage Score

The summary scores indicate the extent to which this food can fulfill your daily vitamin and mineral requirements if you consume 3 servings, consisting of 100 grams of each (an approximation of 3 serving sizes).
Vitamins Daily Need Coverage Score
31%
American cheese
33%
Cheddar Cheese
Minerals Daily Need Coverage Score
106%
American cheese
79%
Cheddar Cheese

Comparison summary

Which food is lower in Sugar?
Cheddar Cheese
Cheddar Cheese is lower in Sugar (difference - 1.78g)
Which food contains less Sodium?
Cheddar Cheese
Cheddar Cheese contains less Sodium (difference - 1018mg)
Which food is lower in Cholesterol?
Cheddar Cheese
Cheddar Cheese is lower in Cholesterol (difference - 1mg)
Which food is lower in glycemic index?
Cheddar Cheese
Cheddar Cheese is lower in glycemic index (difference - 27)
Which food is cheaper?
Cheddar Cheese
Cheddar Cheese is cheaper (difference - $0.4)
Which food is lower in Saturated Fat?
American cheese
American cheese is lower in Saturated Fat (difference - 0.81g)
Which food is richer in minerals?
American cheese
American cheese is relatively richer in minerals
Which food is richer in vitamins?
?
It cannot be stated which food is richer in vitamins. See the charts below for detailed information. See the charts below for detailed information. See the charts below for detailed information.

References

All the values for which the sources are not specified explicitly are taken from FDA’s Food Central. The exact link to the food presented on this page can be found below.

  1. American cheese - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/171290/nutrients
  2. Cheddar Cheese - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/173414/nutrients

All the Daily Values are presented for males aged 31-50, for 2000-calorie diets.

Data provided by FoodStruct.com should be considered and used as information only. Please consult your physician before beginning any diet.