Dr. Becky Maes - Is It Bad For You? Approved by Dr. Becky Maes

Are Kraft Singles Bad For You?

Also Known As: American cheese slices, Processed cheese product



Short answer

Kraft Singles, which are a processed cheese product, contain a significant amount of sodium and saturated fat per slice, which could contribute to heart disease if not consumed in moderation. While they do provide calcium and protein, the high levels of additives, sodium, and fat make it advisable to consume them sparingly and as part of a balanced diet containing a diversity of whole foods.



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Long answer

Nutritional Content of Kraft Singles

Kraft Singles are a type of processed cheese product that has become a staple in many households for its convenience and meltability, particularly in sandwiches and burgers. However, it's essential to peel back the plastic wrap and analyze the nutritional content of these cheese slices to understand their impact on your diet.

One slice (21g) of Kraft American Singles typically contains:

  • Calories: 60
  • Total Fat: 4.5g
  • Saturated Fat: 2.5g
  • Trans Fat: 0g
  • Cholesterol: 15mg
  • Sodium: 220mg
  • Total Carbohydrates: 2g
  • Dietary Fiber: 0g
  • Sugars: 2g
  • Protein: 3g
  • Calcium: 200mg (20% of Daily Value)
  • Vitamin A: 4% of Daily Value

It's important to note that while the slices provide a reasonable amount of calcium and a small protein boost, the high levels of sodium and saturated fats are aspects of consideration. Saturated fats are linked to increased LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, which is a risk factor for heart disease. The American Heart Association recommends limiting saturated fats to no more than 5% to 6% of your total daily calories. For someone eating 2,000 calories a day, that's about 13 grams of saturated fats.

Furthermore, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans advise that sodium intake be limited to less than 2,300 milligrams per day, and even less for individuals with hypertension or prehypertension. The significance of this guideline is heightened by the fact that a single serving of Kraft Singles contains approximately 220 milligrams of sodium, which constitutes a noticeable portion of the recommended daily limit, particularly if consumed in multiple servings or in conjunction with other high-sodium foods throughout the day.

Research published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has highlighted the health implications of excessive intake of processed cheese due to high amounts of additives, sodium, and fat (1). Consequently, frequent consumption of Kraft Singles may contribute to the potential risk factors for chronic conditions, especially when part of a diet that's heavy in processed foods.

The presence of additives such as emulsifiers and preservatives is also noteworthy. These ingredients help maintain the product's texture and extend its shelf life, but there's ongoing debate among health experts about their long-term effects on health. While these additives are approved for use and considered safe in the quantities used in Kraft Singles and other processed foods, some studies have suggested that large amounts or certain types of emulsifiers could potentially disrupt the gut microbiome and promote inflammation (2).

Balance and moderation are key. For individuals who enjoy Kraft Singles, it may be best to consume them as part of a varied and balanced diet, ensuring that overall intake of saturated fat, sodium, and processed foods remain within recommended limits.

Please be sure to consult the latest nutritional information on the product's packaging, as formulations can change. And, as with any dietary choice, it's best to discuss individual nutritional needs with a licensed healthcare provider or a registered dietitian.


  1. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: "The Role of Processed Foods in the Obesity Epidemic"
  2. Research on Emulsifiers and the Gut Microbiome: "Food additives, gut microbiota, and irritable bowel syndrome"

Processed Cheese vs. Natural Cheese

When considering whether Kraft Singles—or any processed cheese product—is bad for you, it's important to understand how processed cheese compares to natural cheese. Here's a breakdown of the differences, nutritional aspects, and health implications.

Composition: Natural cheese is made from milk, enzymes, and sometimes added salt. Processed cheese, such as Kraft Singles, starts with natural cheese but includes additional ingredients like milk proteins, emulsifiers, preservatives, and food coloring. These additives help processed cheese achieve a uniform texture and prevent separation when melted.

Nutritional Content: Generally, natural cheese is a good source of protein, calcium, and other nutrients. In contrast, while processed cheese products often retain some of these nutrients, they may also contain higher levels of sodium and saturated fat.

  • Calcium – Natural cheese typically provides a higher calcium content in comparison to its processed counterpart.
  • Sodium – Processed cheeses often contain added salt to enhance flavor and shelf-life, resulting in higher sodium content.
  • Saturated Fat – The fat content may vary, but processed cheese usually has a similar or slightly higher amount of saturated fat.

Health Considerations: Choosing between processed and natural cheese can affect your health differently.

  • Heart Health – High intake of saturated fat and sodium is linked with an increased risk of heart disease. Processed cheeses, being higher in these components, may contribute to this risk more than natural cheese.
  • Bone Health – The calcium in cheese is important for bone health. Natural cheeses provide a more robust package of nutrients, including calcium, without the added preservatives found in processed options.
  • Weight Management – Natural cheeses can be part of a balanced diet. However, processed cheeses might contribute to weight gain due to their potentially higher calorie content from added ingredients.

Several studies have explored the links between cheese consumption and health. For instance, a study published in the European Journal of Nutrition suggests that moderate cheese consumption may be beneficial for heart health, while indicating that the quality of the cheese matters.1 Conversely, a comparative study featured in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition points out that processed cheese products may be less satiating than natural cheese, which could affect portion control and caloric intake.2

Consumer choices often involve not just nutrition, but also convenience and taste preference. While natural cheeses tend to have shorter shelf lives and may be less uniform in texture and flavor, processed cheeses like Kraft Singles are designed for consistency, ease of use, and longer shelf stability.

In summary, while Kraft Singles and other processed cheeses may offer convenience and unique culinary properties, from a nutritional and health perspective, they are generally not on par with natural cheeses. Understanding the additive content and potential health risks can help consumers make informed choices that align with their dietary goals and health needs.

1. Raziani, Farinaz, et al. "High cheese consumption does not affect cardiovascular risk factors: a randomized controlled crossover trial." European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 69.5 (2015): 564-571.

2. Christensen, Rebekka, et al. "Effect of reduced-fat cheese intake on cardiovascular risk markers: a randomized controlled trial." American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 100.5 (2014): 1233-1241.

Additives and Preservatives in Kraft Singles

Understanding the role of additives and preservatives in processed foods like Kraft Singles is crucial for making informed dietary choices. These components are included to maintain product consistency, enhance flavor, and prolong shelf life. Here's a closer look at some of the additives and preservatives found in Kraft Singles, examining their purposes and any potential health concerns associated with them.

Emulsifiers: Typically, cheese products require emulsifiers for texture and meltability. In Kraft Singles, emulsifiers such as sodium phosphates are used. These compounds help blend the cheese, water, and oil, preventing separation and maintaining a uniform consistency. While generally recognized as safe (GRAS) by the FDA, excessive intake of phosphate additives has been linked to adverse health effects, particularly in individuals with kidney issues.

Colorants: Artificial colors are often used in processed cheese to achieve an appealing and consistent appearance. For example, annatto, a natural food coloring derived from the seeds of the achiote tree, is used in Kraft Singles to give them their distinctive orange hue. Though natural, some individuals may have a sensitivity to annatto, which could cause mild allergic reactions.

Preservatives: To inhibit microbial growth and extend shelf life, Kraft Singles contain preservatives such as sorbic acid. Sorbic acid is effective against a broad spectrum of molds and yeasts. It's considered safe for consumption within the limits recommended by health authorities, but high doses may lead to skin, eye, or respiratory irritation.

Artificial Flavors: The unique taste of Kraft Singles often comes from a blend of natural and artificial flavors. While these additives can mimic the taste of cheese, their health impacts are less straightforward. The long-term effects of artificial flavors are still being studied, and some individuals prefer to avoid them due to concerns over their synthetic origin.

Acidifiers: Ingredients like citric acid and lactic acid are added to processed cheese as acidifiers to balance the cheese's acidity, which is crucial for flavor and preservation. These additives are generally regarded as safe in the amounts used in food products.

It's important to note that sensitivity to additives and preservatives can vary from person to person. While one individual may consume Kraft Singles without any adverse effects, others may experience digestive discomfort or allergic reactions. Those with dietary sensitivities or underlying health conditions should consult their healthcare provider for personalized advice.

Published studies and regulatory guidelines offer a roadmap to understanding these additives and their implications for health:

  • The Journal of Renal Nutrition has discussed the impacts of high phosphate intake in the diet and its association with disrupted bone metabolism in patients with chronic kidney disease.
  • The FDA provides a GRAS list that includes substances like sodium phosphates, indicating general safety for use in food.
  • Research in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology has explored annatto and its potential as an allergen in sensitive individuals.
  • The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) regularly assesses food additives like sorbic acid to ensure safety for consumers within the EU.

When considering the consumption of Kraft Singles or other processed cheese products, it is important to balance the convenience and taste these items provide with your individual health considerations and dietary needs. Being aware of additives and preservatives—and staying informed about their potential effects—empowers you to make choices that align with your wellness goals.

Sodium and Saturated Fat: The Health Implications

When we peel back the wrapper of a Kraft Single, we are met with more than just a slice of cheese—it's a combination of various ingredients and nutrients, including sodium and saturated fat, each with its own impact on our health.

Sodium is an essential electrolyte in the body, playing a critical role in maintaining fluid balance and supporting nerve function. However, when consumed in high amounts, sodium can contribute to a range of health concerns. The American Heart Association recommends that adults consume no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day and move toward an ideal limit of 1,500 mg per day for most adults. Unfortunately, a single slice of Kraft American Cheese contains approximately 250 to 330 mg of sodium, which can add up rather quickly, especially when incorporated into sandwiches or melted atop dishes. Excessive sodium intake is associated with an increased risk of hypertension (high blood pressure), heart disease, and stroke.

The saturated fat content of Kraft Singles also warrants a close look. Saturated fats are a type of dietary fat found in a variety of animal products and certain plant oils. Consistent scientific evidence suggests that high intake of saturated fats can raise the level of cholesterol in your blood, which in turn can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, less than 10 percent of your daily calories should come from saturated fats. One slice of Kraft Singles typically contains about 3.5 grams of saturated fat, which may not seem like much on its own, but becomes significant when part of a diet already high in saturated fats from other sources, like meats, full-fat dairy products, and some oils.

It is important to note that individuals with specific health concerns—such as cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, or a family history of these conditions—should be particularly mindful of their sodium and saturated fat intake. These individuals may need to further limit their consumption of foods like processed cheeses to manage their health risks effectively.

Moreover, it is not just the presence of sodium and saturated fats in Kraft Singles that consumers should be aware of, but their proportion in relation to a balanced diet. The occasional cheese slice contributing to a sandwich packed with vegetables and lean protein has a different overall health implication than a diet high in processed foods and low in nutrients.

For those concerned with their intake of saturated fat and sodium, there are low-fat and reduced-sodium varieties of processed cheese slices available. It is always recommended to read nutrition labels carefully to make informed choices that align with individual health goals and dietary needs.

While no single food item is solely responsible for health issues, it is vital to view our diets holistically and consider how each component fits into our overall patterns of eating. Balance, variety, and moderation remain key tenets of a healthful diet, and understanding the role of sodium and saturated fat can help us make better dietary decisions for long-term well-being.

Role of Kraft Singles in a Balanced Diet

Kraft Singles, a popular brand of processed cheese slices, have long been a staple in American households, particularly for their convenience and meltability in sandwiches and burgers. When incorporated into a balanced diet, it's essential to evaluate how these cheese slices may contribute to or detract from nutritional goals. Here we'll take a look at their potential place within a dietary framework that promotes health.

Nutrient Profile: Each slice of Kraft Singles is primarily made up of modified milk ingredients, water, salt, and emulsifiers, with added vitamins and minerals. A single slice typically contains calcium and vitamin D, which are nutrients vital for bone health. However, these artificially added nutrients must be weighed against the product's overall nutritional value.

Caloric Consideration: Despite having relatively low calories per slice, typically around 60 kcal, Kraft Singles are often consumed alongside other high-calorie foods such as processed bread, butter, and fried meats. The cumulative effect may support weight gain if not balanced with lower-calorie, nutrient-rich foods such as vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.

Saturated Fat and Sodium: One aspect to be cautious of is the high saturated fat and sodium content. These nutrients can contribute to an increased risk of heart disease if consumed in excess. The American Heart Association suggests that saturated fats should account for no more than 5-6% of a person's total daily calories, and the dietary guidelines recommend less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day for adults. Understanding the limits is crucial when considering processed cheese like Kraft Singles in meal planning.

Role in Portion Control: On a positive note, portion-controlled servings of Kraft Singles can help prevent overeating cheese, which is easy to do with block cheese. It can be advantageous for those closely monitoring their intake.

Balancing with Whole Foods: When choosing to consume processed foods like Kraft Singles, it's vital to balance them with whole, unprocessed food options. Consuming a variety of vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, and whole grains ensures the intake of necessary fiber, vitamins, and minerals that support overall health.

Diversification: Variety is a key principle of a balanced diet. Relying solely on Kraft Singles for calcium and vitamin intake limits the diversity of one's nutrient sources. Including other calcium-rich foods such as yogurt, almonds, and leafy greens can provide a wider range of health benefits.

Special Dietary Needs: For individuals with particular dietary restrictions, Kraft Singles offer a gluten-free and lactose-free option. This makes them a convenient choice for those with sensitivities or allergies but does not necessarily guarantee a healthful choice for everyone.

Comparing Kraft Singles to Whole Food Cheese Options

The debate between processed cheese products like Kraft Singles and whole food cheeses is one that hinges on several key factors including ingredients, nutritional content, and overall health impact. Let's delve into a detailed comparison to help inform your cheese choices.

Ingredients Analysis

Whole food cheeses are typically made with a short list of ingredients that you can easily recognize: milk (often pasteurized), salt, an acidifying agent or bacterial culture, and an enzyme to coagulate the milk such as rennet. Conversely, Kraft Singles contain ingredients that help maintain their shape, consistency, and shelf life, such as emulsifiers, food colorings, preservatives, and additional proteins. These include calcium phosphate, whey protein concentrate, and sodium citrate, among others.

Nutritional Comparison

When it comes to nutrition, whole cheeses generally have a higher protein content and an array of naturally occurring vitamins and minerals beneficial for bone health, such as calcium and phosphorus. Processed options like Kraft Singles may have added vitamins and minerals to fortify the product, but it's essential to note that these nutrients are not as bioavailable as those from whole food sources. The table below offers a simplified comparison between a typical whole cheese and Kraft Singles:

Nutrient Kraft Singles (per slice) Whole Cheese (approx. 21g)
Calories 60 70
Total Fat 4.5g 6g
Saturated Fat 2.5g 3.5g
Trans Fat 0g 0g
Cholesterol 15mg 20mg
Sodium 240mg 140mg
Carbohydrates 3g 0.5g
Fiber 0g 0g
Sugar 2g 0.1g
Protein 3g 5g

Health Impact Considerations

In addition to the basic nutritional profile, it's important to contemplate the health implications of consuming processed versus whole food cheeses. Processed cheeses like Kraft Singles contain higher levels of sodium and additives, which can be concerning for individuals monitoring their salt intake or those with sensitivities to food additives. The higher sodium content in processed cheese can contribute to increased blood pressure and cardiovascular risk when consumed in excess.

Furthermore, the processing of cheeses can affect the digestion and absorption of the product. Whole food cheeses contain natural bacteria that can be beneficial for gut health, whereas processed cheeses may lack these probiotic benefits due to their manufacturing process.

Studies have also suggested that whole food options can offer other health benefits. A 2018 study published in The Lancet indicated that dairy consumption, particularly cheese, was associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke when part of a balanced diet. While this does not explicitly exclude processed cheeses, the focus on whole food dairy implies potential differences in health outcomes.

In conclusion, while Kraft Singles provide a convenient and uniform cheese product, their comparison to whole food cheese options reveals significant differences in ingredients, nutritional value, and potential health implications. For those looking to incorporate cheese into a healthy diet, considering the type and quality of cheese, alongside dietary patterns and individual health goals, is crucial.

Frequently asked questions

Emulsifiers such as sodium phosphates used in Kraft Singles are generally safe as approved by the FDA. However, there's some concern that large amounts or certain emulsifiers may disrupt the gut microbiome and cause inflammation. Those with digestive issues or chronic conditions may want to consult a healthcare provider about their consumption of products with these additives.

While Kraft Singles contain calcium, providing 20% of the Daily Value per slice, they should not be relied upon as the sole source of calcium. It's better to get calcium from a variety of foods, including dairy products like yogurt and milk, and plant-based sources such as leafy greens and almonds, for a more balanced intake of nutrients.

Kraft Singles contain 2.5 grams of saturated fat per slice, which may be comparable to some natural cheeses. However, it's important to consider overall dietary saturated fat intake, as high levels can raise blood cholesterol and increase heart disease risk. It's advisable to enjoy Kraft Singles in moderation and opt for low-fat cheese options when possible.

Kraft Singles may be suitable for some individuals with lactose intolerance as they contain less lactose than traditional cheese due to their processing. However, lactose sensitivity varies, so it remains essential for each individual to monitor their body's response and consult with a healthcare provider if unsure.

Ask a question about Kraft Singles and our team will publish the answer as soon as possible.

Possible short-term side effects

  • nausea
  • allergic reactions
  • hypertension
  • increased ldl cholesterol levels

Possible long-term side effects

  • heart disease
  • high blood pressure
  • stroke
  • weight gain
  • inflammation
  • gut microbiome disruption

Ingredients to be aware of


  • convenient
  • contains calcium and vitamin a
  • portion-controlled servings

Healthier alternatives

  • natural cheese
  • low-fat and reduced-sodium cheese options
  • whole foods like vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, whole grains

Our Wellness Pick (what is this?)

Organic Valley Cheddar

  • Raw organic cheese
  • Mild cheddar flavor
  • 8 oz cheese block
  • Organic ingredients
Learn More!

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Diane Saleem
Published on: 01-12-2024

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Diane Saleem
Published on: 01-12-2024

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