Is Mac and Cheese Healthy? Don’t Eat It Regularly!

Do you know what the most popular dish among the kids and adults of the United States is? Easy to guess, it’s mac and cheese. But, Is mac and cheese healthy? Almost every grocery store has shelves and counters filled with mac and cheese packets, because it’s everyone’s go-to food! 

And why wouldn’t it be? It’s delicious and easy to prepare. You can make it with a few common ingredients. Moreover, there are also microwavable packets of mac and cheese too. Have you ever wondered if cheese macaroni is healthy? 

Well, it depends greatly on the ingredients and the nutritional label of your mac and cheese recipe. Some brands offer the best and healthy products of mac cheese, while others may be totally unhealthy for health. However, it is typically rich in calories and fats, that’s why it should be taken in moderation.

But, drawing hands away from your favorite creamy mac pasta is not easy. Let’s find out the important facts on “is mac and cheese healthy”! 

Traditionally, mac and cheese is considered unhealthy for a balanced and weight loss diet. But, if your goal is to increase body mass, then mac and cheese is the right choice for you.

Is Mac and Cheese Healthy For You? 

Traditionally, mac and cheese are considered junk food. But eating it occasionally won’t harm you. Mac and Cheese contain some nutrients, vitamins, minerals, it is also loaded with carbs, and fats. So, eating mac and cheese every day can be bad for you. However, occasional cheat meals are fine. 

More importantly, whether mac and cheese is healthy depends on how you make it or which brand you purchase. Also, manufactured Mac and cheese contain some potentially harmful preservatives and chemicals, which can alter your normal health and lead to some unwanted consequences. 

is-mac-and-cheese-healthy

While buying a good quality mac and cheese, look for the one with organic white cheddar. 

Health Benefits of Mac and Cheese

Mac and cheese is basically a delicious combo of macaroni (usually made of refined carbs) and different types of cheeses, along with home spices and herbs. It is a filling dish that can provide you a good deal of nutrients and minerals. Still, it should be treated as an occasional treat. Here are a few highlights of macaroni and cheese meal:

  • It can be helpful as an instant source of energy.
  • Since mac and cheese is a rich source of sodium, therefore, it aids in water retention and cellular function.
  • It is a good source of dietary fiber. 
  • It contains a limited amount of fiber, potassium, and protein.

Is Mac and Cheese Healthy for Bodybuilding?

Traditionally, mac and cheese is considered unhealthy for a balanced and weight loss diet. But, if your goal is to increase body mass, then mac and cheese is the right choice for you. Since it is a great source of carbohydrates and healthy fats, therefore, it aids greatly in building new mass and increasing its strength. It is also suitable for weight gain. Nonetheless, the calorie count depends on how you make it or which brand you purchase. 

However, can mac and cheese help you increase your BMI? Although cheese macaroni is a good source of carbs and fats, it contains protein in very few amounts, which is a main element for muscle strength

is-mac-and-cheese-healthy-for-bodybuilding

On the whole, mac, and cheese can be okay for a bodybuilder in moderation, but it does not play an integral role in the development of the muscles and healthy weight gain. Instead, it may contribute to some unwanted body fat. Therefore, it is best to swap it with some healthier alternative. 

Adverse Effect of Mac and Cheese

It is obvious that the delightful creamy mac pasta is rich in unhealthy fats, refined carbs, and sodium that are typically adverse for health in large amounts. Therefore, if you ask, ‘Can you live on a diet of macaroni cheese and nothing else?” Then the answer will be a big NO!

So, why is mac and cheese bad for you? Here are a few reasons why you should avoid eating it more than often:

  • Packaged and boxed cheese mac is typically loaded with chemicals, preservatives, and artificial colors that can leach into your food and enter into the bloodstream, therefore, it leads to a good deal of destruction in your body.
  • According to a report, manufactured mac & cheese may contain some traces of Phthalates that can increase the risk of birth defects and pregnancy obstructions.
  • It can lead to dehydration in yourself.
  • It can make you bloated, gassy, and regular use leads to gastrointestinal disorders.
  • Since it is a rich source of sodium, therefore, it is not considered healthy for heart health.
  • It can lead to weight gain and fat buildup.

Mac and Cheese Calories

Typically, Mac and Cheese is a creamy dish of pasta, milk, and cheese. This creamy dish consists of large amounts of fat, carbs and a moderate amount of sodium. 

However, the ingredients and calorie count vary from brand to brand. Especially when they are store-bought mac and cheese. For example, Chick-fil-A contains 440 calories while Kraft, Daiya and Velveeta have 376, 300, and 310 calories per serving, respectively. It’s also high in sodium, it has about 600–1,200 mg Na per serving. Still, it is not the fixed value for every mac and cheese recipe.

Since there are a number of ways and ingredients when cooking mac dishes, therefore, the calorie content and the nutritional profile vary significantly. Still, all kinds of cheese macaroni are incredibly rich in fats and calories, so use it as an occasional treat instead of a regular meal.

Nutritional Information of Some Popular Brand

Brand nameServing SizeCaloriesTotal FatCarbohydratesCholesterol SodiumProtein
Mac and Cheese1 cup (198g)37616 g47 g5.9 mg669 mg9.7 g
Baked Mac And Cheese1 cup (233 g)51029 g39 g96 mg590 mg24 g
KFC Macaroni And Cheese1 cup (64 g)1406 g17 g5 mg590 mg5 g
IKEA Macaroni & Cheese only6 oz23010 g26 g20 mg650 mg9 g
Trader Joe’sMac & Cheese1 container (198 g)2706 g40 g20 mg540 mg15 g
Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, Original1 box(212.2 g)757.69.1 g142.4g30.3 mg1727.3 mg27.3g
Lean Cuisine Vermont White Cheddar Mac & Cheese1 package (226ggrams)2807 g35g20 mg800 mg18 mg
Express Mac Macaroni & Cheese1 bowl (58 g)2203.5 g41 g0 mg470 mg6 g
Salisbury Steak with Macaroni & Cheese1 package (269 g)2404 g28 g35 mg550 mg23 g
Optavia Spinach Pesto Mac & Cheese1 packet (34 g)1101.5 g15 g5 mg390 mg11 g
Homemade Mac And Cheese1 cup (233 g)51029 g39 g96 mg590 mg24 g

Is Annie’s Mac and Cheese Healthy?

Annie’s products are more organic than its competitors. Also, their mac and cheese is relatively good if you prefer organic to artificial flavor. Is Annie’s vegan mac and cheese healthy? Yes, Annie’s vegan mac and cheese is healthy. It is more nutritious than Kraft’s.

annies-mac-and-cheese

It has a lower calorie count. Moreover, it is also low in sugar and chemical-free. 

Is Kraft Mac and Cheese Healthy?

Kraft’s mac and cheese is the most bought commodity in the US and in Canada. It is tasty and affordable. But is it healthy? No, Kraft’s mac and cheese is not healthy. It contains high amounts of preservatives and chemicals, also, a significant level of toxic chemical called phthalates is present in it that disrupts the hormonal balance in the body. Compared to Kraft Mac and cheese, homemade versions are a healthier alternative.

kraft-mac-and-cheese

Is Baked Mac and Cheese Healthy?

Baking is considered the healthiest way to cook food. So, baked macaroni and cheese must be a healthier alternative, too, right? Most people have this perception. But no, it is not the fact. It  is usually not healthy, however, you can make it nutrient-dense. You can add vegetables, cream, and white cheddar to raise the nutrients levels in it. Moreover, use some baby spinach in your macaroni and cheese. The more vegetables you add, the more nutritious it becomes. 

Is Homemade Macaroni and Cheese Healthy? 

In comparison with boxed mac and cheese, you can make your homemade version healthy. Boxed mac cheese is usually loaded with preservatives, artificial colors, harmful powdered formulas, and even unhygienic ingredients that can be unhealthy and less nutritious for your health.

homemade-mac-and-cheese

On the other hand, homemade mac & cheese can become healthy if you add hygiene, all natural and nutritious ingredients. The more pure and nutritious things you put in it, the healthier version it will become. Yet, mac and cheese can’t be considered a healthy and balanced diet, even though the homemade version is relatively good in nutritional value.

Is Mac and Cheese Healthy During Pregnancy?

Mac & cheese and other related items are not considered safe during pregnancy. It can pose a threat to pregnant women. Scientists found that boxed mac and cheese contain a chemical known as phthalates. It is found in the powdered packet of manufactured mac products. This compound is a toxin that can lead to hormonal imbalance in pregnant females.

This further leads to vaginal bleeding, delivery problems, and congenital disabilities. Also, homemade versions are not considered safe in large amounts since they may contain some traces of chemicals, unhealthy fats, and carbohydrates. 

Is Mac and Cheese Healthy for Toddlers?

Macaroni and cheese is a filling meal for a toddler. But only homemade mac and cheese is safe for toddlers, not the boxed one. You can sneak in a few veggies filled with fiber in their mac and cheese. Most toddlers love this dish. Mac and cheese can provide your toddler with energy and strength.

It contains fat, carbs, and protein. Make sure you avoid boxed mac and cheese at all costs. It has potentially harmful toxins and chemicals. Out of all the options, homemade macaroni and cheese is relatively better. 

black-bean-noodles

Healthier Alternative of Mac & Cheese

Following are the few healthier alternatives of mac and cheese:

  • Cheesy baked quinoa
  • Apple crisp
  • Protein sandwich
  • Lentil vegetable soup
  • Black bean noodles

FAQs

Is Mac and Cheese good for weight loss? 

No, macaroni and cheese is not good for weight loss. It is incredibly high in carbs, unhealthy fats, sodium, and calories. The ingredients are rich, so it is not good for weight loss. 

Is Box Macaroni healthy?        

No, box or packaged macaroni is not healthy. It contains chemicals and preservatives that are harmful to you. In particular, it is hazardous for pregnant ladies.

What is the average serving size of mac and cheese? 

The average serving size of mac and cheese is approximately 150-250 grams. However, Mac and cheese is rich and filled with calories, so you must eat it in moderation.

Last Words

Is mac and cheese healthy enough to be eaten regularly? Indeed, it is not. You must eat mac and cheese in moderation. It contains a lot of calories and fats. So, regular eating can be harmful. Annie’s mac and cheese is a healthy option out of all brands, because it is organic. Apart from these, the best choice for mac and cheese is the homemade one. You can make it as healthy as you want by adding nutritious vegetables. However, you should not rely on it as your daily meal plan, instead treat it as an ad hoc.

Dr. Rimita Farid

Dr. Rimita Farid

Hi this is Dr. Rimita Farid. I have completed my MBBS from MAHSA University in Kuala Lampur , Malaysia and currently a registered doctor in Bangladesh. I am training in Dermatology and Venerology and writing for me has been a hobby, even before i decided to be a doctor. I believe our lives are getting stressful with every moment and i believe writing is the solution to all our problems. The power of pen and paper is highly underestimated by many, and i am blessed that i realized how stimulating writing can be for my well being. Hope my articles are relatable and can reach as many readers as possible.

Wholesomealive.com -a blog about Healthy Living
Logo