Dr. Andrea Middleton - Is It Bad For You? Approved by Dr. Andrea Middleton

Is Cracker Barrel Cheese Bad For You?



Short answer

Cracker Barrel Cheese offers valuable nutrients like protein and calcium, but also high levels of saturated fats and sodium, which may raise health concerns if consumed in excess. It's beneficial in moderation, taking into account individual dietary needs and existing health conditions. Varieties and processing affect nutritional content, so check labels. Mindful serving sizes and overall diet balance are key to enjoying this cheese healthily.



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Long answer

Nutritional Profile of Cracker Barrel Cheese

The nutritional value of Cracker Barrel Cheese plays a crucial role in determining its impact on health. Cheese can be an excellent source of essential nutrients, including calcium, protein, and phosphorus. However, it also contains saturated fats and sodium, which requires consideration, especially for individuals with certain health conditions.

Let's break down the typical nutritional content of Cracker Barrel Cheese per one-ounce (28g) serving:

  • Calories: Approximately 110 kcal
  • Total Fat: 9g
  • Saturated Fat: 5-6g
  • Trans Fat: 0g
  • Cholesterol: 20mg
  • Sodium: 180mg
  • Total Carbohydrates: <1g
  • Dietary Fiber: 0g
  • Sugars: 0g
  • Protein: 6g
  • Calcium: 200mg (20% of the Daily Value)
  • Vitamin D: Generally not present, unless fortified

From a dietary perspective, Cracker Barrel Cheese provides notable amounts of calcium and protein, which are important for bone health and muscle maintenance, respectively. The cheese variety—for example, cheddar, mozzarella, or gouda—can slightly alter these values, but generally, the differences are marginal for similar types of cheeses.

The high saturated fat content is a health consideration, as current dietary guidelines recommend limiting saturated fat intake to less than 10% of total daily calories to help prevent heart disease. In this respect, moderation is key when including Cracker Barrel Cheese in your diet.

Sodium is another important factor to consider. With 180mg per ounce, Cracker Barrel Cheese can contribute to the daily sodium intake, which should be less than 2,300mg for most adults. Individuals with hypertension or a risk for heart disease should be particularly mindful of their sodium consumption.

In terms of additives, it's worth noting that some processed cheese products may contain preservatives or colorants. It's essential to read the label to understand the full range of ingredients included in the specific Cracker Barrel Cheese you're consuming.

Regarding cholesterol, while cheese contains cholesterol, recent studies indicate that dietary cholesterol may not have as significant an impact on blood cholesterol levels as once thought. However, those with familial hypercholesterolemia or a predisposition to high cholesterol should consult with a healthcare provider.

For those following carbohydrate-restricted diets, such as keto or low-carb diets, Cracker Barrel Cheese can be a suitable choice, as it contains less than 1 gram of carbohydrates per serving.

In summary, while Cracker Barrel Cheese offers nutritional benefits such as a high level of calcium and protein, it also contains high amounts of saturated fats and sodium, which may be a concern for some people. It's always prudent to consider the overall context of your diet and how this cheese fits into your nutritional goals and restrictions.

Saturated Fat and Sodium Content Concerns

When discussing processed cheeses like those offered by Cracker Barrel, it's crucial to focus on two key nutritional aspects: saturated fat and sodium content. These factors play a significant role in the overall health impact of consuming these cheese products.

Saturated Fat: Cracker Barrel cheese, much like other cheeses, is rich in dairy fat, which includes saturated fats. While fats are an essential part of the diet, saturated fats should be consumed in moderation. According to the American Heart Association, high intake of saturated fats can raise the level of LDL cholesterol in the blood, contributing to an increased risk of heart disease and stroke.

  • Average content per serving: A typical serving size of Cracker Barrel cheese contains about 5 grams of saturated fat, which is roughly 25% of the recommended daily intake based on a 2,000-calorie diet.
  • Healthier choices: Opting for lower-fat options or limiting portion sizes can help manage saturated fat intake while still enjoying the flavors of cheese.

Sodium: Sodium is another ingredient to watch in Cracker Barrel cheese. Sodium is essential for bodily functions, but overconsumption is associated with high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. Current dietary guidelines recommend that adults consume no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day, with an ideal limit of 1,500 milligrams for most adults, especially those with hypertension.

  • Average content per serving: A single serving of Cracker Barrel cheese can contain up to 200 milligrams of sodium, making it easy to exceed the recommended limits when consumed in larger amounts or alongside other sodium-rich foods.
  • Reducing intake: If managing sodium intake is a concern, considering low-sodium cheese varieties or incorporating cheese less frequently into the diet can be beneficial.

Experts also caution that individuals with certain health conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, should be particularly wary of these nutritional aspects. Always consult with a healthcare provider for personalized dietary advice. Additionally, moderating consumption and carefully reading nutrition labels can help maintain a balanced diet while enjoying products like Cracker Barrel cheese. However, remember that a balanced diet involves variety and moderation, and incorporating different types of nutrients is key to a healthy lifestyle.

It's important to note that nutritional content can vary between different Cracker Barrel cheese products. Therefore, individuals should refer to the specific nutrition facts label of the product they are consuming for the most accurate information. Lastly, remember that individual dietary needs can vary greatly, so personalized nutrition advice from a registered dietitian or nutritionist may be helpful.

Additives and Preservatives in Processed Cheese

Processed cheeses, including some varieties offered by Cracker Barrel, often contain additives and preservatives that enhance flavor, extend shelf life, and maintain texture. It's important to understand the role and potential health implications of these ingredients. Here, we'll dive into common additives and preservatives found in processed cheeses and consider their safety and nutritional aspects.

Emulsifiers: Emulsifiers such as sodium phosphate, are frequently used in processed cheese to maintain a uniform mixture of oil and water, preventing separation and ensuring the cheese’s smooth texture. While generally recognized as safe (GRAS) by the FDA, consuming large amounts of phosphates is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis, as supported by a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Color Additives: Cheese products are sometimes colored with annatto or beta-carotene to achieve a consistent and appealing hue. These substances are naturally derived and considered safe, though rare cases of annatto causing allergic reactions have been documented in clinical studies like those mentioned in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

Preservatives: Processed cheese often contains preservatives like sorbic acid or its salts (calcium sorbate, potassium sorbate) to inhibit mold and bacterial growth. These compounds are safe within the limits established by international food safety authorities. However, some studies, including one in Cell Biology and Toxicology, suggest that when preservatives are consumed in extremely high doses, they may have adverse effects.

Flavor Enhancers: Artificial flavors and enhancers like monosodium glutamate (MSG) may be included to enrich the cheese's taste. Despite common misconceptions, MSG has been deemed safe by the FDA, but sensitive individuals may experience short-term reactions such as headaches or flushing, as referenced in the Journal of Nutrition.

Acidifiers: Citric acid and lactic acid, which are generally natural compounds found in various foods, can be added to processed cheese to balance the pH level. These additives are widely used and considered safe, but individuals with certain gastrointestinal conditions may need to moderate their intake.

Here’s a table summarizing these common additives and preservatives:

Additive/Preservative Purpose Potential Concerns
Emulsifiers (e.g., sodium phosphate) Texture stabilization Increased risk of cardiovascular issues and bone health if overconsumed
Color Additives (e.g., annatto) Color consistency Allergic reactions in sensitive individuals
Preservatives (e.g., sorbic acid) Mold and bacteria prevention Adverse effects in extremely high doses
Flavor Enhancers (e.g., MSG) Taste enhancement Reactions in sensitive individuals
Acidifiers (e.g., citric acid) pH balance Concern for those with certain GI conditions

When considering the impact of these additives and preservatives on health, it’s crucial to take into account one's overall dietary pattern and individual sensitivities. A diet high in processed foods may increase the risk of consuming excessive amounts of these substances. Thus, it is generally advised that they be consumed as part of a varied and balanced diet. For specific health concerns, consulting with a healthcare professional is recommended.

Lactose Intolerance and Dairy Sensitivity Issues

For those with lactose intolerance, consuming dairy products such as Cracker Barrel Cheese can lead to uncomfortable digestive symptoms. Lactose intolerance occurs when the body lacks sufficient amounts of the enzyme lactase, which is needed to break down lactose found in dairy. The resulting undigested lactose moves into the colon where it can cause symptoms such as bloating, gas, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. According to a study published in the National Library of Medicine, lactose intolerance is common, affecting about 65 percent of the human population to varying degrees.

In addition to lactose intolerance, dairy sensitivity or allergy can also pose problems for certain individuals. Dairy sensitivity involves the immune system reacting to proteins found in milk, such as casein and whey. This can present as a range of symptoms from skin reactions like hives to respiratory issues. For those with a true milk allergy, which is different from lactose intolerance, any dairy consumption can trigger a serious allergic response and should be wholly avoided. The American College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology reports that cow's milk is the most common food allergy in infants and young children.

Some cheeses, including certain types of Cracker Barrel Cheese, have lower levels of lactose due to the cheese-making process, which can make them more tolerable for individuals with lactose maldigestion. The fermentation process reduces the lactose content, and aged cheeses typically have less lactose compared to fresh cheeses. Nonetheless, for those with dairy allergies or severe intolerance, even these cheeses may still pose a risk.

For consumers dealing with these issues, several strategies can be employed to mitigate the impact of lactose or dairy consumption:

  • Lactase Supplements: These over-the-counter supplements can help people with lactose intolerance digest dairy products more comfortably.
  • Lactose-Free Dairy Products: Many brands offer lactose-free alternatives, including cheeses, that can be substituted in place of regular dairy products.
  • Dairy Substitutes: Plant-based cheese alternatives made from nuts, soy, or other non-dairy sources can be tried for those who cannot tolerate or are allergic to dairy proteins.
  • Slow Introduction: Gradually introducing small amounts of dairy into the diet can sometimes help the body adapt to digesting lactose more effectively.

For those who enjoy cheese like Cracker Barrel but are concerned about lactose intolerance or dairy sensitivity, it is essential to monitor your body's reactions and consult with a healthcare provider. They can offer personalized advice and testing for lactose intolerance or dairy allergies to help guide dietary choices.

Balancing Cheese in a Healthy Diet: Moderation and Portion Control

Understanding the importance of moderation and portion control is crucial when incorporating cheese, such as Cracker Barrel Cheese, into a healthy diet. Cheese is a rich source of essential nutrients, including calcium, protein, and beneficial fats. However, it also contains saturated fats and sodium, which could be detrimental to health when consumed in excess. To enjoy the benefits of cheese without overindulgence, consider these recommendations:

  • Portion Size Matters: A standard portion size for cheese is about 1-1.5 ounces (28-42 grams). Visualize a portion as roughly the size of two dice—this can help prevent overserving. Sticking to this recommended serving size ensures that you can enjoy the flavor and nutritional value of cheese without excess calories and fat.
  • Frequency of Consumption: Cheese can be a part of your daily diet, but it’s important to balance it with other sources of dairy and protein. Organizations like the American Heart Association suggest limiting saturated fat to no more than 5-6% of total calories, which equates to about 13 grams of saturated fat per day on a 2,000-calorie diet. Monitoring how often you eat cheese can help maintain this balance.
  • Nutritional Trade-Offs: Pairing cheese with foods high in fiber and low in sodium can offset some of its less desirable attributes. For example, enjoy a slice of cheese with a whole-grain cracker and a serving of fresh fruit or vegetables.
  • Choose Low-Sodium Varieties: Cracker Barrel Cheese, like many cheeses, can be high in sodium. If you're watching your salt intake, opt for low-sodium versions or naturally lower-sodium cheeses such as Swiss, mozzarella, or goat cheese.

For those who may be lactose intolerant or sensitive to dairy, moderation and portion control can be especially significant. Even small quantities of cheese may cause discomfort, so it's important to listen to your body's cues and adjust portions accordingly. On the other hand, for those who tolerate dairy well, cheese remains a delightful and nutritious addition to a balanced meal plan when consumed in moderation.

Remember that portion control should not mean depriving yourself. It’s about finding a balance that aligns with your health goals and dietary needs. By following these guidelines, you can enjoy Cracker Barrel Cheese as a tasty component of a well-rounded, nutrient-rich diet.

Frequently asked questions

Some aged cheeses by Cracker Barrel may be lower in lactose, due to the fermentation process which reduces lactose content over time. Varieties like aged cheddar can be easier on the digestive system for those with lactose sensitivity, but those with dairy allergies should still avoid them.

Yes, Cracker Barrel cheese can be included in a heart-healthy diet, but it should be consumed in moderation due to its saturated fat content. Choose reduced-fat varieties if available, pair with high-fiber foods, and keep an eye on portion sizes, adhering to the recommended 1-1.5 ounces per serving.

Individuals with high blood pressure should opt for low-sodium brands of Cracker Barrel cheese when available, and keep an eye on overall daily sodium intake, ensuring it does not exceed the recommended limits, ideally staying within 1,500 mg of sodium per day as suggested for those with hypertension.

Cracker Barrel cheese can fit into a weight loss plan as long as it's eaten in moderation and the overall calorie intake is managed. Since cheese is calorie-dense, be mindful of portion sizes, and consider incorporating lower-fat versions to reduce the total calorie contribution.

Ask a question about Cracker Barrel Cheese and our team will publish the answer as soon as possible.

Possible short-term side effects

  • bloating
  • gas
  • diarrhea
  • abdominal pain
  • headaches
  • flushing
  • allergic reactions

Possible long-term side effects

  • increased risk of heart disease
  • stroke
  • high blood pressure
  • cardiovascular issues
  • osteoporosis
  • allergic reactions

Ingredients to be aware of


  • source of calcium
  • source of protein
  • low carbohydrate

Healthier alternatives

  • low-fat cheeses
  • low-sodium cheeses
  • plant-based cheese alternatives
  • lactose-free cheeses

Our Wellness Pick (what is this?)

Organic Valley Cheese

  • Grass-fed milk cheese
  • Rich in nutrients
  • Organic product
  • Sharp cheddar flavor
  • Raw cheese block
Learn More!

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Diane Saleem
Published on: 02-14-2024

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Diane Saleem
Published on: 02-14-2024

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