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Provolone vs. American cheese — Health Impact and Nutrition Comparison

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Article author photo Jack  Yacoubian by Jack Yacoubian | Last updated on July 17, 2023
Medically reviewed by Astghik Grigoryan Article author photo Astghik Grigoryan
Provolone
vs
American cheese

 

Summary

Provolone contains more protein than American cheese, which is higher in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats compared to Provolone. Both of them are low in carbs.

Provolone is higher in soluble B-group vitamins, whereas American cheese is high in unsoluble vitamins like vitamin D, vitamin E, and vitamin K.

In comparison to Provolone, which is high in zinc, American cheese contains more calcium, sodium, and other minerals.

Introduction

Provolone is a cow's milk-based Italian cheese with Southern Italian origins, whereas American cheese is made from a mixture of milk, milk fats, and additional lipids; previously, it was produced with a combination of cheeses, most often Colby and Cheddar.

This article will compare the two types of cheeses according to their nutritional content and health impacts. By the end of this article, the reader will understand the nutritional profile of each cheese.

Appearance and Taste

The flavor of Provolone ranges from sharp to very mild. The texture is homogeneous and slightly smooth. The skin is smooth and golden. In contrast, the taste and texture of American cheese vary depending on the other components used; it ranges in color from yellow to white.

There are several varieties of provolone:

  • Provolone Dolce (two to three months old) is a sweet cheese. Use it as an aperitif or dessert.
  • Provolone Piccante (aged for four months) is a salty cheese. It is grated (rather than parmesan).
  • Provolone Affumicato is a smoked cheese.

There are three forms of processed American cheese available for purchase: huge blocks, little pre-sliced blocks, and individually wrapped cheese slices, whereas Provolone comes in a ball shape, a pear with vertical constrictions, a huge sausage, etc.

Nutritional content comparison

In this section, we will consider 100g of each cheese.

Calories

American cheese has more calories than provolone cheese. American cheese has 371 calories, whereas provolone has 351 calories.

Proteins

Provolone has more protein than American cheese. Provolone provides 25g of protein, while American cheese has 18g.

Fats

Provolone is lower in fat compared to American cheese. Provolone contains 26.62g of fat, whereas American cheese contains 31.79g of fat. In addition, most of the fats are saturated fatsAmerican cheese contains more monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats than Provolone. American cheese contains omega-3 and omega-6, unlike Provolone.

Carbs

Both these kinds of cheese are low in carbs. Provolone cheese contains 2.14g of carbs. American cheese is slightly higher in carbs and contains 3.7g.

Minerals

In comparison to Provolone, which is high in zinc, American cheese contains more phosphorus, selenium, calcium, copper, manganese, iron, and sodium (see the diagram below).

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 less Sodium -47.6%
Contains more Zinc +29.7%
Contains more Calcium +38.2%
Contains more Iron +21.2%
Contains more Phosphorus +29.2%
Contains more Copper +76.9%
Contains more Manganese +310%
Contains more Selenium +39.3%
Equal in Magnesium - 26
Equal in Potassium - 132
Calcium Iron Magnesium Phosphorus Potassium Sodium Zinc Copper Manganese Selenium 227% 20% 20% 213% 13% 115% 89% 9% 2% 80%
Calcium Iron Magnesium Phosphorus Potassium Sodium Zinc Copper Manganese Selenium 314% 24% 19% 275% 12% 218% 68% 16% 6% 111%
Contains less Sodium -47.6%
Contains more Zinc +29.7%
Contains more Calcium +38.2%
Contains more Iron +21.2%
Contains more Phosphorus +29.2%
Contains more Copper +76.9%
Contains more Manganese +310%
Contains more Selenium +39.3%
Equal in Magnesium - 26
Equal in Potassium - 132

Vitamins

Provolone is higher in soluble B-group vitamins than American cheese, which is higher in unsoluble vitamins such as vitamins D, E, and K. Both of them contain equal quantities of vitamin A and vitamin B12.

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 B1 +26.7%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +37.2%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +105.3%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +18.1%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +35.2%
Contains more Folate +25%
Contains more Vitamin E +247.8%
Contains more Vitamin D +20%
Contains more Choline +135.1%
Contains more Vitamin K +18.2%
Equal in Vitamin A - 945
Equal in Vitamin B12 - 1.5
Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin C Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Folate Vitamin B12 Choline Vitamin K 53% 5% 15% 0% 5% 75% 3% 29% 17% 8% 183% 9% 6%
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%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +26.7%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +37.2%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +105.3%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +18.1%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +35.2%
Contains more Folate +25%
Contains more Vitamin E +247.8%
Contains more Vitamin D +20%
Contains more Choline +135.1%
Contains more Vitamin K +18.2%
Equal in Vitamin A - 945
Equal in Vitamin B12 - 1.5

Weight loss and Diets

American cheese and Provolone are keto-friendly since they are low in carbs and high in fat and protein. 

In contrast to highly processed American cheese, Provolone can be used in moderation in the Mediterranean diet. 

Both of these cheeses are allowed during intermittent fasting because it regulates the timing of eating rather than the energy quality.

Thus, when following a weight-loss diet, Provolone and American cheese should be ingested in moderation.

Health impacts

This section will focus on the different health impacts each cheese provides.

Cardiovascular health

Section reviewed by cardiologist Astghik Grigoryan Article author photo Astghik Grigoryan

Sodium is an essential mineral that contributes to the regulation of normal blood pressure.  As previously stated, American cheese contains nearly twice as much sodium as Provolone (1671mg vs. 876mg). Although a healthy adult can ingest up to 2300 mg of salt, certain people are advised to follow a reduced sodium diet due to a pre-existing health condition such as heart failure, high blood pressure, renal failure, and so on (1). 

Based on the above, we recommend that people with arterial hypertension and heart failure limit their consumption of American cheese, as opposed to Provolone, which contains Lactobacillus helveticus, which, like some antihypertensive drugs (Captopril, Perindopril, et al.), may reduce arterial blood pressure by inhibiting angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) (2.3).

In addition, tyramine-containing cheeses (such as Provolone and American cheese) 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, stroke, or other potentially fatal health complications) in patients taking MAO inhibitors (particularly antidepressants). It should be noted that American cheese contain more tyramine than Provolone (4.5).

Both kinds of cheese contain saturated fats, whose consumption may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, and this effect is assumed to be mediated mostly by higher LDL (bad cholesterol) levels in the blood (6).

On the other hand, given that loop diuretics (Furosemide, Bumetanide, and Torsemide), which are mainly prescribed in heart failure, increase calcium loss by limiting reabsorption in the loop of Henle, we recommend that people who take loop diuretics increase (in moderation) consumption of dairy products (including these ones), unless contraindications exist (7).

It should be noted that loop diuretics have the opposite impact of thiazide diuretics (Chlorothiazide, Chlorthalidone, Hydrochlorothiazide, Indapamide, and Metolazone), which lower calcium excretion and may improve bone mineral density (for more information about calcium, see below) (7).

Digestive Health

Provolone and American cheese are high in threonine, an amino acid that contributes to the integrity of the intestinal mucosa and is important for the digestion and absorption of nutrients (8).

Lactose intolerance is characterized by a deficiency of the enzyme lactase (which destroys or aids in the digestion of the milk sugar lactose). Individuals who are lactose intolerant may have symptoms such as bloating, diarrhea, and flatulence when they ingest cheeses such as Provolone, American cheese, etc. (9).

However, Provolone has a significantly lower lactose level than American cheese. Even in the tiniest quantity, some people who are particularly sensitive to provolone can have a significant response. In view of the foregoing, all such individuals should avoid cheeses such as provolone and American cheese or stick to lactose-free varieties (10).

Casein is a milk protein found in all dairy products, including provolone cheese. Casein intolerance is a disorder in which your body becomes allergic to the milk protein casein. People who are allergic to casein may experience dangerous symptoms after consuming casein-rich foods (such as cheese or other dairy products), such as wheezing, difficulty breathing, anaphylaxis (a life-threatening acute allergic response), extreme pain, vomiting, rashes, and so on.

Casein allergy affects approximately 3% of children under the age of one year. In most cases, the allergy resolves by the time the child reaches the age of five, but it may resurface later in life. Adults have a 2% prevalence of casein allergies. In view of the above, all such people should avoid cheeses, including these ones, or consume plant-based cheeses (11.12).

Histamine is a naturally occurring substance (or neurotransmitter) that is created in your body to help with digestion by releasing enzymes and acid in the stomach. Aside from internal production, a variety of foods, such as cheese, are high in histamine.

Some people have histamine intolerance; they are genetically predisposed to severe reactions caused by increased histamine sensitivity of the tissues.Inadequate histamine metabolism or excessive histamine intake as a result of eating specific foods (such as cheese, including these ones) can cause a variety of symptoms such as headaches or migraines, nausea, exhaustion, vomiting, and ect. (13).

Histamine levels in aged and fermented cheeses are higher than in fresh cheeses. Although both of these cheeses are high in histamine, American cheese is richer than Provolone.

Diabetes mellitus

According to this study, full-fat and nonfermented cheeses raise the risk of type 2 diabetes in healthy people (14). The development of the metabolic syndrome, which is characterized by the death quartet (abdominal obesity, hyperglycemia, dyslipidemia, and hypertension), could be one reason for this. Limited consumption of fatty foods, particularly American cheese (in this content), as well as physical activity, are important in preventing the latter (15).

Bone Health

Bone size and mass grow fast in late childhood and adolescence, lasting into the third decade of life. This is a period of potential and susceptibility for building bone mass, which is necessary for bone health throughout life.

The Recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for calcium is 1300 mg for boys and girls aged 9 to 18. Extremely low calcium intakes, such as <400 mg/day, increase the risk of rickets and fractures, especially when paired with low vitamin D status. This clinical picture may be seen in patients with anorexia nervosa or other forms of malnutrition who have rigorous dairy avoidance without adequate alternative sources of calcium and vitamin D (16).

Adequate calcium intake (the RDA for calcium is 1000–1200 mg for adults) and weight-bearing physical exercise are required to achieve peak bone mass and reduce the development of osteoporosis in adulthood (17).

Both of these cheeses are high in calcium, although American cheese contains more than Provolone.

Cancer

According to this study, Lactobacillus helveticus, which is used in the production of certain Italian cheeses such as Provolone, has numerous health benefits, including preventing the growth of colon cancer cells and breast cancer cells in vivo (18). This effect is unknown for American cheese.

Article author photo Jack  Yacoubian
Education: Haigazian Medical University
Last updated: July 17, 2023
Medically reviewed by Astghik Grigoryan

Infographic

Provolone vs American cheese infographic
Infographic link

Macronutrient Comparison

Macronutrient breakdown side-by-side comparison
Contains more Protein +41.1%
Contains more Fats +19.4%
Contains more Carbs +72.9%
Contains more Other +43.7%
Equal in Water - 39.61
26% 27% 2% 41% 5%
Protein: 25.58 g
Fats: 26.62 g
Carbs: 2.14 g
Water: 40.95 g
Other: 4.71 g
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
Contains more Protein +41.1%
Contains more Fats +19.4%
Contains more Carbs +72.9%
Contains more Other +43.7%
Equal in Water - 39.61

Fat Type Comparison

Fat type breakdown side-by-side comparison
Contains more Monounsaturated Fat +11.4%
Contains more Polyunsaturated fat +67.2%
Equal in Saturated Fat - 18.057
68% 29% 3%
Saturated Fat: 17.078 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 7.393 g
Polyunsaturated fat: 0.769 g
65% 30% 5%
Saturated Fat: 18.057 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 8.236 g
Polyunsaturated fat: 1.286 g
Contains more Monounsaturated Fat +11.4%
Contains more Polyunsaturated fat +67.2%
Equal in Saturated Fat - 18.057

Comparison summary table

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

All nutrients comparison - raw data values

Nutrient Provolone American cheese Opinion
Net carbs 2.14g 3.7g American cheese
Protein 25.58g 18.13g Provolone
Fats 26.62g 31.79g American cheese
Carbs 2.14g 3.7g American cheese
Calories 351kcal 371kcal American cheese
Sugar 0.56g 2.26g Provolone
Calcium 756mg 1045mg American cheese
Iron 0.52mg 0.63mg American cheese
Magnesium 28mg 26mg Provolone
Phosphorus 496mg 641mg American cheese
Potassium 138mg 132mg Provolone
Sodium 876mg 1671mg Provolone
Zinc 3.23mg 2.49mg Provolone
Copper 0.026mg 0.046mg American cheese
Manganese 0.01mg 0.041mg American cheese
Selenium 14.5µg 20.2µg American cheese
Vitamin A 880IU 945IU American cheese
Vitamin A RAE 236µg 250µg American cheese
Vitamin E 0.23mg 0.8mg American cheese
Vitamin D 20IU 23IU American cheese
Vitamin D 0.5µg 0.6µg American cheese
Vitamin B1 0.019mg 0.015mg Provolone
Vitamin B2 0.321mg 0.234mg Provolone
Vitamin B3 0.156mg 0.076mg Provolone
Vitamin B5 0.476mg 0.403mg Provolone
Vitamin B6 0.073mg 0.054mg Provolone
Folate 10µg 8µg Provolone
Vitamin B12 1.46µg 1.5µg American cheese
Choline 15.4mg 36.2mg American cheese
Vitamin K 2.2µg 2.6µg American cheese
Tryptophan 0.345mg 0.232mg Provolone
Threonine 0.982mg 0.772mg Provolone
Isoleucine 1.091mg 0.938mg Provolone
Leucine 2.297mg 1.716mg Provolone
Lysine 2.646mg 1.516mg Provolone
Methionine 0.686mg 0.475mg Provolone
Phenylalanine 1.287mg 0.939mg Provolone
Valine 1.64mg 1.187mg Provolone
Histidine 1.115mg 0.546mg Provolone
Cholesterol 69mg 100mg Provolone
Trans Fat 1.144g Provolone
Saturated Fat 17.078g 18.057g Provolone
Omega-3 - DHA 0g 0.006g American cheese
Omega-3 - EPA 0g 0.012g American cheese
Omega-3 - DPA 0g 0.021g American cheese
Monounsaturated Fat 7.393g 8.236g American cheese
Polyunsaturated fat 0.769g 1.286g American cheese
Omega-6 - Eicosadienoic acid 0.009g 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
Provolone American cheese
Low Fats diet ok
Low Carbs diet ok
Low Calories diet ok
Low Glycemic Index diet Equal

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%
Provolone
31%
American cheese
Minerals Daily Need Coverage Score
78%
Provolone
106%
American cheese

Comparison summary

Which food is lower in Sugar?
Provolone
Provolone is lower in Sugar (difference - 1.7g)
Which food contains less Sodium?
Provolone
Provolone contains less Sodium (difference - 795mg)
Which food is lower in Cholesterol?
Provolone
Provolone is lower in Cholesterol (difference - 31mg)
Which food is lower in Saturated Fat?
Provolone
Provolone is lower in Saturated Fat (difference - 0.979g)
Which food is cheaper?
American cheese
American cheese is cheaper (difference - $0.1)
Which food is richer in minerals?
American cheese
American cheese is relatively richer in minerals
Which food is lower in glycemic index?
?
The foods have equal glycemic indexes (27)
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. Provolone - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170850/nutrients
  2. American cheese - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/171290/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.