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9 Worst Cheeses To Stay Away From Right Now

A registered dietitian highlights the cheese brands that can't even call themselves cheese—that's how little of the real stuff is in them.
FACT CHECKED BY Olivia Tarantino
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Worried about which cheese you should stay away from? Sometimes the answer isn't how much calories and fat is in a food, but rather how processed it is. Cheese is a good-for-you food that provides an array of nutrients including protein, vitamins A, B12, K, and D, zinc, and calcium. Even higher-fat cheeses have a place in a healthy diet as long as you consume them in moderation—a small amount goes a long way.

So which cheese brands should you stay away from? Overly processed ones. These "cheeze" products may be made with some real cheese but it usually contains around 50% cheese—sometimes less. It also contains non-cheese ingredients including salt, food dyes, and preservatives.

These ingredients are added to the pasteurized cheese and then formed into a solid block, slices, sauce, spread, or spray. With all the added ingredients, the flavor and texture of these products have changed significantly as well as the nutrition of the food; usually, the result is that it has very little good-for-you nutrients.

Below you'll find 9 cheese products that are not real cheese, but rather overly processed foods that include some real cheese. If you think choosing vegan faux cheese is better—it may be suitable for a dairy-free diet, but it still doesn't provide the taste, texture, and nutrient composition of real cheese or other nutrient-dense foods. Read on, and for more on what you should be buying, don't miss 11 Cheese Brands That Use the Highest Quality Ingredients.

Kraft Velveeta Cheese

velveeta original cheese loaf

PER 1 OZ SERVING: 70 calories, 4 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 390 mg sodium, 3 g carbs (0 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 4 g protein

Ooey gooey Velveeta isn't really cheese—it's actually called a "pasteurized recipe cheese product." This ultra-processed food is made from cheese and other dairy ingredients and by-products. It includes emulsifiers, vegetable oil, salt, sugar, and food coloring. Some of these ingredients are not allowed by the FDA to be in products sold as real cheese. Instead of a slice from this loaf, enjoy a nice slice of good old Cheddar cheese.

Here's What Happens to Your Body If You Eat Cheese Every Day

Kraft Cheez Whiz Cheese Spread

kraft cheez wiz cheese spread

PER 1 TBSP SERVING: 30 calories, 1.5 g fat (1 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 230 mg sodium, 2 g carbs (0 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 2 g protein

Although the calories may be reasonable, Kraft Cheez Whiz dip is made with added ingredients that aren't allowed in products sold as real cheese. But let's be honest—you're likely not consuming just one tablespoon at a time, so you're really looking at a higher calorie, fat, and sodium intake when you consume this product. If you're looking for a cheesy dip, make your own using real American cheese.

Nabisco Easy Cheese, Cheddar

nabisco easy cheese

PER 2 TBSP SERVING: 80 calories, 6 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 440 mg sodium, 3 g carbs (0 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 4 g protein

Available in cheddar, cheddar and bacon, sharp cheddar, and American, this spray cheese product just screams overly processed. If you're looking to combine cheddar and bacon flavors, enjoy a tasty grilled cheese BLT sandwich with a slice of Swiss or cheddar cheese.

Great Value Cheese Wow Product

great value cheese wow
Courtesy of Walmart

PER 2 TBSP SERVING: 90 calories, 7 g fat (2 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 440 mg sodium, 2 g carbs (0 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 3 g protein

This spray cheese product may seem like a bang for your food dollar and fun to play with. But step away from the spray cheese product and opt for a delicious slice of the real deal. Pair with a whole grain cracker and a handful of almonds for a wholesome snack.

 16 High-Protein Snacks To Keep You Full Between Meals

Old El Paso Taco Sauce, Creamy Queso Dip

old el paso queso
Courtesy of Old El Paso

PER 1 TBSP SERVING: 20 calories, 1.5 g fat (0 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 120 mg sodium, 2 g carbs (0 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 0 g protein

The calories of this cheese dip seem reasonable, but looking at the nutrition facts panel you can see that it has no calcium, which is just one of many reasons you want to opt for real cheese. For example, one ounce of cheddar cheese provides 20% of the daily recommended amount. Calcium is identified by the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans as an under-consumed nutrient by all Americans, so if you want a cheese dip, make sure you're doing it with nutrient-rich real cheese.

Pace Nacho Jalapeno Queso Dip

pace nacho
Courtesy of Campbells

PER 2 TBSP SERVING: 35 calories, 2.5 g fat (1 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 220 mg sodium, 3 g carbs (0 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 0 g protein

Looking at the nutrition information, this dip may seem like a healthy choice. The label even touts that it's made from real cheese. Once again, it may contain some real cheese but overall, it's not categorized as real cheese due to the added ingredients that aren't allowed in foods designated as real cheese. Plus, if you look at the protein there is none! One ounce of Cheddar cheese has 7 grams of protein which is another reason to opt for the real deal.

 9 Worst Dips to Always Leave on the Grocery Store Shelves

Tostito Smooth & Cheesy Dip

tostitos smooth cheesy dip
Courtesy of Tostitos

PER 2 TBSP SERVING: 50 calories, 3.5 g fat (1 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 200 mg sodium, 4 g carbs (0 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 0 g protein

You'll find that this cheesy dip is made with real cheese, but you'll also find the term "cheese flavored" front and center too. Instead, find a quick and easy cheese dip recipe made with your favorite cheese—like my Baked Artichoke Dip with Fontina Cheese—where it's not only made with real cheese, but you'll also get some veggies in there too!

Vegan Valley Nacho Queso Cashew Cheeze

Vegan Valley Nacho Queso

PER 2 TBSP SERVING: 67 calories, 4 g fat (1 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 273 mg sodium, 5 g carbs (1 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 2 g protein

Just because this version of cheese or cheese sauce is vegan, doesn't mean it's healthier for you. Yes, you have some raw cashews in there but the top ingredient by weight is water (followed by a slew of emulsifiers and other such ingredients). If you're looking to get the nutrition, eat a handful of raw cashews or make your own cashew butter flavored with nutritional yeast (which is a vegan cheese-flavored substitute).

Daiya Cheese Style Deluxe Cheeze Sauce

daiya deluxe cheese sauce
Courtesy of Daiya

PER ¼ CUP SERVING: 150 calories, 12 g fat (5 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 1,010 mg sodium, 9 g carbs (0 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 1 g protein

Once again, vegan doesn't mean it's healthier. Compared to other cheese foods made with real cheese, the calories, saturated fat, and sodium are quite a bit higher in this vegan sauce. For the ¼ cup serving, you'll also get 44% of your daily recommended amount of sodium—which is rather high for any "cheese."

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN
Toby Amidor is an award winning dietitian and Wall Street Journal best-selling cookbook author who believes healthy and wholesome can also be appetizing and delicious. Read more about Toby
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