Did you know there can be more than just cheese in your store bought shredded cheese? Some shredded cheeses contain cellulose from wood pulp and added carbohydrates. Cellulose is a plant fiber that is added to foods to give texture and bulk. It also keeps shredded cheeses from clumping together.
One of the main sources for cellulose is wood pulp and although it may seem strange, it is not harmful to your body and it passes through your GI tract unabsorbed. Even though these fibers are harmless, they will add carbs to your cheese. However, there are a few cheeses that do not contain any of these added carbs. Here are a few from my Love It, Like It, Hate It segment on WGNO.
The best option is to shred your own cheese, and a great cheese to start with is Cabot Sharp Light Cheese. We like Cabot because it is a lower calorie cheese with no added carb fillers. It also has better flavor, texture and melts more easily than most pre-shredded cheeses.
If you would prefer to buy a pre-shredded cheese, Whole Foods 365 Shredded 3 Cheese Blend has no added carbs or cellulose fiber and is not too pricey.
Kraft 2% Shredded Cheese contains corn starch, which isn’t not harmful but does add carbs. It’s a good option if you are not going to go to Whole Foods or cannot shred your own.
Please note this cheese also contains natamycyin, a mold inhibitor that’s banned by Whole Foods but is regarded as safe by other government and health watchdog groups. Part of the concern around natamycyin is that it can potentially lead to a resistance to topical anti-fungal medications, but there is no evidence to support that normal amounts consumed would lead to resistance.
Borden Shredded Cheese is on this list because it contains starchy add-ins and is high in saturated fat. It also contains cellulose powder, potato starch and natamycyin.
If there was a Hate It! Hate it! category, Velveeta Shreds would make it. Not only does this shredded cheese have starchy add-ins and is higher in carbs, it also contains 3x more sodium than most other brands. Other ingredients include modified food starch, potato starch, cellulose powder, as well as 3 grams of carbs.
So next time your recipe calls for shredded cheese, you should opt for shredding your own or choosing a brand with low cellulose and no added carbs.
Ready to change your diet for good? Our registered dietitians can help. Learn more.