Skip to Content

Is Velveeta healthier than cheese?

Velveeta and real cheese are very different products. Velveeta is a processed cheese product made from milk protein concentrate, whey protein concentrate, milkfat, milk, whey, and emulsifiers. It contains less protein and calcium than real cheeses like cheddar or swiss. However, it’s lower in fat and calories than most real cheeses. So is it healthier? Here’s a detailed comparison of the nutrition facts.

Nutrition Facts

Nutrient (per 1 oz) Velveeta Cheddar Cheese
Calories 74 114
Total Fat 6g 9g
Saturated Fat 3.5g 6g
Protein 4g 7g
Calcium 10% DV 20% DV

As you can see, Velveeta is significantly lower in calories, fat, and saturated fat compared to real cheddar cheese. However, it also contains much less protein and calcium.


When looking at the ingredients list, Velveeta appears much less natural than real cheese:

Velveeta Ingredients: Milk protein concentrate, whey protein concentrate, milkfat, milk, whey, sodium phosphate, contains 2% or less of: salt, calcium phosphate, lactic acid, sorbic acid as a preservative, sodium alginate, sodium citrate, enzymes, apocarotenal, annatto, cheese culture.

Cheddar Cheese Ingredients: Cultured milk, salt, enzymes.

Real cheddar cheese contains just 3 basic ingredients – milk, salt, and enzymes. Velveeta has a long list of stabilizers, thickeners, preservatives, and artificial colors.

So while Velveeta is made from dairy ingredients like milk protein and whey protein, it’s gone through more extensive processing and contains less natural additives.

Nutritional Pros and Cons

Here’s a quick rundown of the main nutritional pros and cons of Velveeta versus real cheese:

Pros of Velveeta:

  • Much lower in calories and fat
  • Contains less saturated fat
  • Shelf-stable, doesn’t require refrigeration

Cons of Velveeta:

  • Contains less protein
  • Significantly less calcium
  • Not a natural, whole food
  • Contains preservatives and artificial colors

Pros of Real Cheese:

  • Higher in protein
  • More calcium
  • All natural ingredients
  • Typically less processed

Cons of Real Cheese:

  • Much higher in calories and fat
  • Higher in saturated fat
  • Requires refrigeration
  • Higher sodium in some varieties

So it’s a trade-off – Velveeta offers the convenience of lower calories and fat, while real cheese provides more complete nutrition from its protein, calcium, and natural ingredients.

Sodium Content

One area where Velveeta and real cheese are similar is in their sodium content.

Velveeta provides about 470mg of sodium per 1 oz serving. Regular cheddar cheese contains around 175mg of sodium per ounce.

So while cheddar has a bit less sodium than Velveeta, both can be high-sodium foods. Those limiting their sodium intake may want to consume either in moderation.

Some types of real cheese like feta, swiss, and fresh mozzarella contain less sodium than cheddar. But overall, both Velveeta and real cheese can contribute quite a bit of sodium to the diet.

Melting Properties

One reason why Velveeta became popular was its meltability. Its processed smooth, uniform texture makes it melt very smoothly.

Real cheeses like cheddar melt nicely as well, but they tend to separate into oils and solids rather than melting into a perfectly smooth sauce.

So for dishes like grilled cheese, queso dip, or cheese sauces, Velveeta offers superior melting over real cheese. Its texture has been optimized for melting into rich, creamy sauces.


When it comes to taste, real cheese generally has a more complex, nuanced flavor than Velveeta.

While Velveeta tastes creamy and pleasantly cheesy, it lacks the sharpness, nuttiness, sweetness, and tang that high-quality real cheeses provide.

However, Velveeta’s mild flavor makes it versatile for blending into dips, sauces, casseroles or topping dishes without overpowering other ingredients. Some people enjoy its familiar, nostalgic flavor in childhood comfort foods.

So in terms of flavor, while Velveeta may be more one-dimensional, some enjoy its melt-in-your-mouth creaminess and cheese nostalgia. Real cheese offers a broader range of complex flavors.


Velveeta is generally a very affordable processed cheese option. You can often find 16 ounce blocks of Velveeta for around $5.

Real cheese like cheddar can cost anywhere from $3-$8 per pound depending on the type and quality. So Velveeta provides the convenience of a cheese product at a budget-friendly price point.

However, when comparing equal serving sizes by ounce, Velveeta contains less nutrition for the calorie cost. So while less expensive per package, real cheese delivers more nutritional value per calorie.


One of the major advantages of Velveeta is its convenience. Unlike real cheese, it doesn’t need to be refrigerated. Its smooth, sliceable texture also makes it easier to melt than many real cheeses.

So for cooking applications like making quick dips, sauces, sandwiches, or casseroles, Velveeta offers a very convenient shortcut compared to starting with real cheeses.

However, for unprocessed convenience, cheese sticks, slices or shreds can offer on-the-go ease as well. But Velveeta edges out real cheese in terms of no refrigeration and quick-melting properties.

Environmental Impact

The production of Velveeta requires more processing, additives, and packaging compared to real cheese. So it likely has a larger carbon footprint than simpler real cheeses.

Also, since Velveeta contains dairy ingredients like milk protein concentrate and whey protein, its environmental impact includes the greenhouse gas emissions of dairy cattle.

Real cheese also has an environmental impact from dairy cattle. However, less processed cheeses require less manufacturing, so they are likely more eco-friendly overall.

Gut Health

Natural cheeses contain live cultures and probiotics that can benefit gut health. During the fermentation process, compounds are created that may support digestion.

Velveeta does not provide these probiotic benefits. It’s made from dairy ingredients that have been extensively processed and heated to high temperatures that destroy most probiotics.

Also, people who are sensitive to processed foods may digest real cheese easier than highly processed Velveeta. So for gut health, real cheese seems to have an advantage.


Thanks to its smooth, creamy texture and mild taste, Velveeta is an extremely kid-friendly cheese option. It’s easy to melt over foods like pasta, chicken nuggets, or veggies to get picky eaters to eat their cheese.

Of course, real cheese can be kid-friendly too. But its stronger flavors and textures may not appeal as much to some picky eaters. So Velveeta wins in terms of kid appeal and sneaking extra dairy into fussy eater’s diets.

Ease of Use in Cooking

Velveeta really shines in terms of cooking convenience. Its uniform, sliceable block makes it easy to cut precise sizes for recipes. And it melts smoothly into creamy sauces, fondue, dips, mac and cheese, or anywhere you want gooey melted cheese.

Real cheese requires more effort to shred, grate or dice into recipes. And it may not melt into perfectly smooth sauces. So for quick cooking and baking uses, Velveeta offers superior ease of use over real cheese.

Nutritional Downsides

While Velveeta can fit into a healthy diet in moderation, it does come with some nutritional downsides:

  • Lacks the protein, calcium, and nutrition of real cheese
  • High in sodium
  • Contains artificial preservatives and dyes
  • May promote inflammation due to highly processed ingredients
  • Offers less nutrition for the calorie cost

So while the lower fat content can seem appealing, Velveeta provides less complete nutrition than real cheese. It’s best to consume it in small amounts along with more wholesome foods for balance.

The Verdict

Overall, Velveeta offers the convenience of easy melting, low refrigeration needs, and kid-friendly flavor, while real cheese provides more overall nutrition and health benefits.

Here are some general guidelines on when to choose each:

Velveeta may be preferable when you need:

  • A smooth, creamy melting cheese
  • To sneak extra dairy into kids’ diets
  • An affordable, convenient cheese product
  • To add cheese flavor without overpowering other ingredients
  • A nostalgic cheese experience

Real cheese may be preferable when you want:

  • The full nutrition of cheese (protein, calcium)
  • Natural, minimally processed ingredients
  • Complex, robust cheese flavors
  • Potential gut health benefits
  • Less artificial additives

For the best nutrition and health, real cheeses should make up the bulk of your cheese intake. But enjoying Velveeta occasionally can fit into an overall balanced approach. Just be mindful of portion sizes, as the calories and fat can add up fast, even with lower calorie Velveeta.

Both real cheese and Velveeta can work as part of a healthy diet. It comes down to your personal needs and preferences for taste, texture, convenience, and nutrition. By understanding their differences, you can determine which cheese suits your goals and cravings.


Velveeta offers convenience, melty texture, mild flavor, and nostalgia, while real cheese provides more overall nutrition. For good health, emphasize real cheeses for their benefits, and enjoy highly processed Velveeta in moderation. Consider your priorities like taste, budget, uses in cooking, and nutritional needs when choosing between real cheese and Velveeta. Both can play a role in an overall balanced diet when consumed mindfully.