Cheddar Cheese Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Cheddar cheese

Fun fact: Cheddar cheese originates from the village of Cheddar in Somerset, England, where damp, cool caves provided the perfect humidity conditions for the cheese to mature. Since its creation in England sometime in the 12th century, however, this tasty, dairy product has made its way into the hearts (and bellies) of cheese lovers across the world. Today, cheddar is one of Americans’ favorite cheeses, whether served in melty quesadillas, creamy mac and cheese, or atop a sizzling burger. 

While cheddar is a delicious addition to many comfort foods, it doesn’t necessarily have a reputation as being good for health. Many people have concerns about cheddar’s high-calorie count and saturated fat content. While it does have nutritional drawbacks, a moderate amount of cheddar can be an enjoyable part of a healthy diet.

Cheddar Cheese Nutrition Facts

This nutrition information for 1 ounce (28g) of cheddar cheese is provided by the USDA.

Calories: 110

Fat: 9g

Sodium: 180mg

Carbohydrates: 0g

Fiber: 0g

Sugars: 0g

Protein: 7g

Carbs

Like many kinds of cheese, cheddar contains zero carbohydrates. This means it also has no fiber or sugars. 

Fats

Most health concerns about cheddar focus on its fat content—and, more specifically, its content of saturated fat. It’s true that whole milk cheddar is high in both total fat (at 9 grams per ounce) and saturated fat (6 grams per ounce). Traditionally, nutrition advice has advised consuming a diet low in saturated fat to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. 

However, new research indicates that, in whole foods such as cheese, saturated fat may not have the detrimental effects on heart health previously believed. Many experts are now calling for more research to determine the pros and cons of saturated fat in dairy.

Protein

At 7g per 1-ounce serving, protein accounts for over 30% of cheddar’s calories. This can add significantly to your daily intake.

Vitamins and Minerals 

Calcium is cheddar’s obvious micronutrient star, at 200mg (or 20% of your daily value) per ounce. But calcium isn’t the only vitamin or mineral cheddar has to offer. One ounce provides 6% of your daily vitamin A recommendation and 14% of your phosphorus, plus small amounts of zinc, selenium, and riboflavin. If you’re trying to cut down on salt, though, take note: Cheddar is also relatively high in sodium.

Health Benefits

Although most people might associate cheddar cheese with a range of comfort foods, it actually has quite a few notable nutritional benefits.

Builds Healthy Bones

With its sizable calcium content, cheddar can contribute to maintaining bone health. Getting enough calcium is critical to preventing osteoporosis, the harmful degeneration of bone density. 

Builds Muscle

Protein performs a variety of functions in the body, and at 7 grams per ounce, cheddar is a great source of this macronutrient. Not only does protein build muscle, it’s necessary for the production of enzymes, giving structure to cells, maintaining fluid balance, and much more.

Calorie Dense

No one could accuse cheddar of being full of empty calories! This cheese is calorie-dense, which increases its satiation factor.

May Help With Weight Loss

Despite what you may have heard about cheese causing weight gain, there's a a phenomenon known as the full-fat dairy paradox that's turning this belief on its head. Research now suggests that removing the fat from dairy products may actually make it more likely to cause weight gain, making full-fat the better choice for weight management.

Compatible With Keto and Low-carb Diets 

If you’re tweaking your macros on the keto diet, you’re in luck. Because of cheddar’s high percentage of fat, it’s compatible with this high-fat eating plan. With zero carbohydrates, cheddar also fits well in any low-carb diet.

Low Lactose

When it comes to lactose, not all cheeses are created equal. Cheddar is among the harder, aged cheeses that’s actually quite low in lactose, meaning that lactose intolerant folks can often eat it without unpleasant symptoms like bloating, stomach upset, and gas.

Allergies

Although it is low in lactose, cheddar still contains casein and whey, two components that can trigger an immune response in people with a dairy allergy. If you’re allergic to dairy, you’ll have to keep cheddar off the menu.

Varieties

You’ve probably noticed that cheddar comes in varying degrees of “sharpness,” including mild, medium, sharp, and extra-sharp. This simply refers to how long the cheese has been aged: the longer it ages, the sharper (or more pungent and flavorful) it becomes. Mild cheddar typically ages two to three months, while extra-sharp varieties can linger for up to a year.

And what about white cheddar? Intriguingly, all cheddar starts out white (or a shade close to it) since it comes from cow’s milk. In the seventeenth century, cheese producers began adding vegetable dye to cheddar to give it a consistent color, and the practice never stopped. Therefore, you might think of white cheddar simply as “original” cheddar. Any color differences from added extracts like annatto are unlikely to change the cheese’s flavor.

When It’s Best 

There’s no one season for cheddar! This cheese can be aged and purchased all year long. However, to choose the best cheddar, it’s smart to read ingredient labels. Many shredded and sliced options are packaged with anti-caking agents like cellulose. While cellulose isn’t necessarily harmful, it may take away from the overall flavor and texture of your cheese.

Storage and Food Safety

It may be second nature to refrigerate all cheese, but cheddar does not technically require refrigeration. However, storing cheddar in the fridge will help it last longer. According to the USDA, unopened cheddar can last up to six months in the refrigerator and opened packages can stick around for three to four weeks.

Because it’s a hard cheese, cheddar even takes well to freezing—but you may not extend its life much more through freezing than through refrigeration. The USDA estimates cheddar can be frozen for about six months.

How to Prepare

Cheddar can make its way into any number of cheesy dishes or, of course, be served all on its own with your favorite crackers. With a melting point of about 150 degrees Fahrenheit, it doesn’t require high heat to get nice and gooey, and with its high fat content, it has plenty of stretch. To boost the nutrients in dishes like cheesy casseroles, Mexican dishes, sandwiches, or pastas, try using a whole grain base and adding veggies to the mix.

Recipes

 

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