Think Twice Before Eating Another Piece Of American Cheese

American cheese: just because Chrissy Teigen told Esquire that she likes it, doesn't mean you have to. Teigen also admitted to The New York Times that she licks the fake cheese off of Doritos (similar to how Andy Cohen likes it). Synthetic cheese obsessions seem to be a celebrity thing. If American cheese was a person and did an autocomplete interview, it'd have to answer uncomfortable questions like: why is American cheese orange? why is American cheese so bad? and, why does American cheese taste like plastic?

Mashed talked exclusively to Registered Dietitian at Balance One Supplements, Trista Best. And, it turns out there's a good reason that people keep on asking Google those questions. "American cheese is categorized as a 'cheese food; not actual real cheese, and therefore is vastly different from actual cheese," Best told Mashed. As for its sometimes plastic-y taste? Less than 51 percent of the "cheese food" is "actual cheese," per Best. That, in turn, is due to the "amount of synthetic ingredients and chemicals present in American cheese to make it shelf-stable and palatable." Yes, Trista Best did go there. In order for humans to be capable of stomaching it, makers of American cheese need to add chemicals to their product. 

American cheese: to eat or not to eat?

You guessed it. All of those synthetic ingredients in American cheese aren't great for your body. "The more American cheese you eat, the more likely you are to overeat on calories, go over your daily recommendation for fat and sodium, and ingest a large amount of inflammatory ingredients," Best told Mashed. "Excess amounts of cheese can also lead to increased risk of gastrointestinal issues, like constipation and bloating." In other words, think twice before making your grilled cheese sandwiches and mac and cheese with the "cheese food" for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day. 

But if you, like Teigen, have a weakness for American cheese, or if you're like Martha Stewart, and eat "a slice of American cheese from my housekeeper's drawer" as a "go-to guilty pleasure food" (via Town & Country), then keep the following in mind. Best told Mashed that "American cheese should be consumed in moderation, if at all." And, if in moderation, seek out organic brands of American cheese that contain as few "synthetic ingredients as possible." Sorry, Kraft. Finally, Best warned that we should stay away from pairing American cheese "with other unhealthy foods like refined white bread and pastas." Instead, "to consume [American cheese] in a healthy way you should opt for whole wheat versions that are not enriched," she advised.