Is Kraft Mac and Cheese Healthy? (2022)

Few packaged products have had the cultural impact of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese.

You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t have fond memories of the yellow-orange cheesy noodles from their childhood. Roughly seven million boxes of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese are sold globally each week, and it’s been called the de facto national dish of Canada.

But in terms of health impact, where does this ubiquitous product stand? Let’s take a look.

Is Kraft Mac & Cheese Healthy?

For clarity’s sake, this article is going to focus mainly on Kraft Original Flavor Macaroni & Cheese Dinner. More specifically, the 7.25-ounce box. This is perhaps the most classic manner in which to purchase the product and when most people refer to eating an “entire box” of Kraft Mac & Cheese, this is usually what they’re referring to (more on that later).

Instructions on the packaging for the “Classic Prep” of the 7.25-ounce box includes boiling all the noodles, draining them, and then mixing in the included Cheese Sauce Mix as well as 4 tablespoons of margarine and 1/4 cup of 2% milk.

(Video) The Untold Truth Of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese

Each of these boxes contains three servings. Per one serving using the “Classic Prep,” the nutrition facts for Kraft Original Flavor Macaroni & Cheese Dinner are roughly:

  • 350 calories
  • 13 grams of fat
  • 4.5 grams of saturated fat
  • 720mg of sodium
  • 2 grams of dietary fiber
  • 7 grams sugar
  • 10 grams of protein

Nutritionally, one serving of Kraft Original Flavor Macaroni & Cheese Dinner is roughly equivalent to a McDonald’s Cheeseburger. There’s not a ton of calories there, but perhaps the biggest red flag is the sizable amount of sodium.

Although athletes who train intensely on a daily basis need more sodium than sedentary people, chronic over-consumption of sodium can lead to high blood pressure and increase your risk of stomach cancer, heart failure and stroke. Per Healthline, health authorities generally recommend general population adults keep their sodium intake between 1,500-2,300mg a day. Yet the average American downs 3,400mg a day, often in the form of highly processed foods. Health officials estimate that if Americans lowered their daily sodium intake to the recommended range, it would prevent up to92,000 deaths annually.

While 4.5 gram of saturated fat sounds far from ideal, some recent research is changing experts’ perception of saturated fat and its impact on our overall health. Considering much of it here comes from the margarine and milk, which are naturally high in saturated fat, that total may not be as bad as it sounds.

All in all, a single serving of Kraft Original Flavor Macaroni & Cheese Dinner isn’t a terrible choice. It can’t measure up to a balanced meal of veggies, whole grains, lean meats, healthy fats, etc., but you could do worse. But the nutritional profile of the meal significantly changes when you exceed the serving size—which is incredibly common with this particular product for a variety of reasons.

(Video) Top 10 UNTOLD TRUTHS of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese!!!

One, the recommended serving size is small. We know that the weight of our food plays an important role in satiety, as humans tend to consume 3-5 pounds of food a day.

“That’s the level of food people eat,” says Ryan Andrews, registered dietitian and author of the book Drop The Fat Act & Live Lean. “Whether it’s 3 to 5 pounds of cheese and candy or 3 to 5 pounds of vegetables and fruits. It’s an important factor to feeling satisfied throughout the day.”

This is why fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean meats, etc. are so good at filling us up—not only are they packed with fiber and protein, but they’re usually quite heavy compared to ultra-processed foods like cookies and crisps.

A pre-preparation serving of this Kraft Mac & Cheese weighs only 70 grams or about half the weight of one NLEA serving of broccoli. Yet it contains 300 more calories. For reference sake, there are 453.59 grams in one pound. A fully prepared serving will obviously be quite a bit heavier, but unless your recipe calls for uranium, the point remains.

Furthermore, while Kraft does make individual microwaveable servings of their Mac & Cheese, most people buy it by the box. And when you buy it by the box, the most convenient way to prepare it is by cooking the whole package at once. Unless you’re splitting the meal with two or more other people, someone’s going to need to eat more than one serving if you don’t want leftovers.

(Video) The Rise And Fall Of Kraft Cheese | Rise And Fall

Additionally, the high sodium content of Kraft Original Flavor Macaroni & Cheese Dinner can further contribute to overeating.

What If You Eat an Entire Box Of Kraft Mac & Cheese?

The reality is that most people eat significantly more than one serving of the food at a time. A simple Twitter search reveals how incredibly common it is for people to eat an entire box by themselves.

So, say you down an entire 7.25-ounce box (which contains three servings) by yourself after using the “Classic Prep” method to prepare it. Here’s what the nutrition facts for that meal roughly look like:

  • 1,050 calories
  • 39 grams of fat
  • 13.5 grams of saturated fat
  • 2,160mg of sodium
  • 6 grams of fiber
  • 21 grams of sugar
  • 30 grams of protein

Now we’re looking at a meal that’s high in calories and saturated fat and very high in sodium. If you’re consistently eating meals like this, it’s going to be difficult to lose weight.

If I had to make a nutritional comparison, a box of Kraft Original Flavor Macaroni & Cheese Dinner is remarkably similar to a Chipotle burrito made with chicken, white rice, black beans, fajita veggies, cheese, sour cream and red-chili salsa—at least in terms of total calorie, fat, saturated fat and sodium content.

(Video) I've Eaten Only Mac & Cheese for the Past 17 Years, Here's Why

However, the burrito contains twice as much fiber as the box of Kraft Mac & Cheese. Fiber is a nutrient that’s key for keeping you full and regular in the near term while also contributing to a reduced risk of chronic disease and better overall health over the long haul, and most of us don’t eat enough of it.

The burrito is also going to be significantly higher in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants thanks to its superior quantity of plant-based foods.

The fact that Kraft Mac & Cheese contains no artificial flavors, preservatives or dyes is nice, and the significant amount of protein is another plus. Zero grams of added sugar is also a big win in a day and age where added sugars are lurking in so many unexpected places.

If you’re looking to increase the fiber content, going with the Whole Grain version of Kraft Mac & Cheese is a great idea. Better yet, consider adding some veggies like broccoli, peppers, peas, carrots and/or spinach to your Kraft Mac & Cheese. This will greatly up the amount of beneficial nutrients with minimal impact on the calorie total. It can also help you feel full without needing to eat the entire box!

The Verdict

Well, no. Kale is healthy. Salmon is healthy. Sweet potatoes and blueberries and almonds are healthy. The classic blue box of cheesy noodles from our childhood doesn’t stack up nutritionally to such options. However, it’s not quite as unhealthy as you may have previously believed, especially when compared to many other convenient, packaged options.

(Video) We TRY Every Boxed MAC & CHEESE 🧀in our grocery store

You’d probably be better off with a brand like Annie’s Homegrown, but you could certainly do worse. Fooducate gives it a C+, which sounds about right. Now, if you squirt a bunch of ketchup or barbecue sauce in it (two sauces often packed with added sugar), that’s a different story. But some Kraft Mac & Cheese now and then isn’t going to sabotage your overall health.

Photo Credit: Kraft,Pamela_d_mcadams/iStock

READ MORE:

  • Are Chewy Bars Actually Healthy?
  • 13 Horrible Drinks for Your Health and What They Do To Your Body
  • Are BANG Energy Drinks Healthy?

FAQs

Is Kraft macaroni and cheese healthy? ›

That means it's best as an occasional food, not a pantry staple. For example, Kraft Mac and Cheese calories are pretty high (350 per one-cup serving). 1 And other mac and cheese calories (even the homemade variety) are high as well. This dish is also high in fat and very high in sodium.

Is Kraft boxed mac and cheese healthy? ›

Kraft Macaroni and Cheese isn't exactly healthy, but it's also not bad. It contains no added sugar or artificial flavours, as well as a significant amount of protein. It's also gluten-free, which makes it a great vegetarian option. Furthermore, Kraft Macaroni & Cheese is a great way to stick to a healthy diet.

Is boxed mac and cheese unhealthy? ›

The ABSOLUTE MINIMUM you need to know, in 50 words or less: Boxed mac and cheese is high in phthalates because of plastic involved in processing, plus fat content. Phthalates are definitely a cause for concern, especially for infants and expecting females, but threshold doses aren't known.

Is mac and cheese healthy yes or no? ›

As all of these options are relatively high in calories and sodium for 1 cup (about 150–250 grams) of food, you should only eat mac and cheese in moderation or as an occasional treat as part of a healthy diet. Macaroni and cheese is typically high in calories, containing 300–500 calories per serving.

Is Annie's better than Kraft? ›

Kraft and Annie's aren't that different, nutritionally. In fact, a box of Annie's shells and white cheddar has 20 more calories than a box of Kraft Original mac and cheese, and comparable amounts of sodium and fiber, though Annie's has fewer ingredients (and more organic ones) overall.

Is Kraft Mac and Cheese real cheese? ›

Turns out, it is mostly milk products and byproducts like whey and milk protein and cheese culture, milkfat and lactic acid. Kraft has recently started taking out the more chemical-based ingredients like artificial dyes and flavors.

What chemical is in boxed mac and cheese? ›

Although not all phthalates pose substantial health risks, the phthalate found in macaroni and cheese, DEHP, is considered by some advocacy groups to be the “most widely banned phthalate around the world.” These bans stem from some research linking DHEP exposure to blocked production of testosterone, fertility ...

Is mac and cheese unhealthy? ›

Mac and cheese is a delicious meal option for lunch and dinner but the craving is not good for your health. All of the brands contain high amounts of calories, sodium, sugar, and fats. They also contain artificial flavors and preservatives. Kraft's mac and cheese is highly processed.

Is Kraft Mac and Cheese good for diabetics? ›

What a person with diabetes needs to hear is that Macaroni and Cheese can still be consumed, just in strict portion control amounts. That is unless the Diabetic decides to create a different type of pasta made from vegetables or beans, a gluten-free form of pasta or even fortified pasta.

Is mac n cheese good for weight loss? ›

In fact, mac and cheese can act as a great snack on a weight loss diet as it will help in keeping you feeling fuller and also as a snack, it would not be consumed in as big quantities as it would be when eaten as a meal.

Are mashed potatoes healthy? ›

Mashed potatoes benefit your health because they offer a rich source of potassium. Each cup of mashed potatoes provides 622 milligrams of potassium, or 13 percent of your recommended daily intake, according to the NYU Langone Medical Center.

Is McDonald's food healthy? ›

McDonald's offers several meals that can be included in many different diet patterns, including vegetarian, ketogenic, low calorie, or low sodium diets. However, keep in mind that most items available from this fast-food chain are still high in sodium, saturated fat, added sugar, or cholesterol.

Is Kraft dinner good for you? ›

Please note that Kraft Dinner macaroni and cheese is a nutritious food that can be part of a balanced diet. In addition to being delicious, it is also a source of calcium and iron and a good source of protein." Clapson said he didn't know "KD" was trademarked and personally enjoys the occasional bowl of Kraft Dinner.

Is mac and cheese processed food? ›

But processed food is more than boxed macaroni and cheese, potato chips and drive-thru hamburgers. It may be a surprise to learn that whole-wheat bread, homemade soup or a chopped apple also are processed foods. While some processed foods should be consumed less often, many actually have a place in a balanced diet.

How many calories is in a whole box of Kraft Mac and Cheese? ›

AG: A box of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, when prepared, contains 1,050 calories. For someone eating a 2,000-calorie daily diet, that's more than half of your daily calories. And not to mention that you're also going to overload on fat and sodium.

Is Kraft Mac and Cheese the best? ›

In the end, the classic macaroni and cheese brand took the crown. That's right, your standard box of Kraft is really the best boxed mac and cheese out there! Costing less than a dollar a box, we're not complaining! What set this macaroni apart from the crowd was really its perfect ratio of cheese sauce to noodles.

What is the white powder in Annie's mac and cheese? ›

The Huffington Post reached out to the Kraft Foods Consumer Center, where a representative identified the stuff simply as "modified food starch." According to the representative, the starch is added to prevent the product from boiling over in the microwave.

Is Kraft Dinner processed? ›

Kraft Dinner (with the KD label) is packaged with a processed cheese powder packet (Canada, 2018). Additional ingredients are needed for a "Classic Prep" of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese—milk, butter, and cheese powder—which are added to the noodles.

Did Kraft change their mac and cheese 2022? ›

KraftHeinz announced in a press release on June 22, 2022, that the iconic blue box is getting a new look! The brand will be changing its name from Kraft Macaroni and Cheese to Kraft Mac & Cheese.

What kind of cheese is in Kraft Mac n cheese? ›

Maltodextrin, Whey (from milk), Cheddar Cheese (milk, cheese culture, salt, enzymes), Sunflower Oil, Salt, Sodium Phosphate, Blue Cheese (milk, cheese culture, salt, enzymes), Contains Less than 2% of Citric Acid, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Lactic Acid.

Is Kraft Mac and Cheese good for diabetics? ›

What a person with diabetes needs to hear is that Macaroni and Cheese can still be consumed, just in strict portion control amounts. That is unless the Diabetic decides to create a different type of pasta made from vegetables or beans, a gluten-free form of pasta or even fortified pasta.

How many calories is in a whole box of Kraft Mac and Cheese? ›

AG: A box of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, when prepared, contains 1,050 calories. For someone eating a 2,000-calorie daily diet, that's more than half of your daily calories. And not to mention that you're also going to overload on fat and sodium.

What chemical is in boxed mac and cheese? ›

Although not all phthalates pose substantial health risks, the phthalate found in macaroni and cheese, DEHP, is considered by some advocacy groups to be the “most widely banned phthalate around the world.” These bans stem from some research linking DHEP exposure to blocked production of testosterone, fertility ...

How many calories is in a Kraft Mac and Cheese? ›

Best when used by date on bottom of cap. No artificial flavors. Per 1 Package: 220 calories; 2 g sat (10% DV); 500 mg sodium (22% DV); 4 g total sugars. The Taste You Love: No artificial preservatives; no artificial dyes.

How unhealthy is Kraft Dinner? ›

Nutritionally, one serving of Kraft Original Flavor Macaroni & Cheese Dinner is roughly equivalent to a McDonald's Cheeseburger. There's not a ton of calories there, but perhaps the biggest red flag is the sizable amount of sodium.

Does cheese spike insulin? ›

Cheese has a low glycemic index (GI), meaning that it releases glucose slowly and will not trigger significant blood glucose spikes.

How many calories should I eat in a day? ›

How many calories should I eat a day? Adult females need anywhere from 1,600 to 2,400 calories a day and adult males need anywhere from 2,000 to 3,000 calories a day, according to the USDA's latest “Dietary Guidelines for Americans” report released in 2020.

How many calories do I have to eat to lose weight? ›

For example, to lose 1 to 2 pounds a week — a rate that experts consider safe — your food consumption should provide 500 to 1,000 calories less than your total weight-maintenance calories. If you need 2,325 calories a day to maintain your current weight, reduce your daily calories to between 1,325 and 1,825.

How many cals do I need a day? ›

Though it differs depending on age and activity level, adult males generally require 2,000-3000 calories per day to maintain weight while adult females need around 1,600-2,400 according to the U.S Department of Health. The body does not require many calories to simply survive.

Is Kraft Dinner processed? ›

Kraft Dinner (with the KD label) is packaged with a processed cheese powder packet (Canada, 2018). Additional ingredients are needed for a "Classic Prep" of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese—milk, butter, and cheese powder—which are added to the noodles.

Which mac and cheese does not have phthalates? ›

General Mills' Annie's mac 'n cheese first-ever food company to eliminate toxic phthalates in food processing equipment. Toronto, Ont.

Is mac and cheese processed food? ›

But processed food is more than boxed macaroni and cheese, potato chips and drive-thru hamburgers. It may be a surprise to learn that whole-wheat bread, homemade soup or a chopped apple also are processed foods. While some processed foods should be consumed less often, many actually have a place in a balanced diet.

Videos

1. Healthier Alternative to Boxed Mac & Cheese!!!
(Living Traditions Homestead)
2. Healthy Macaroni & Cheese Recipe | Nikki Dinki's Kraft Style Mac & Cheese
(Clean & Delicious)
3. Kraft Mac and Cheese: What happens when you remove artificial colors
(For clean eating, healthy grocery lists, get FoodSniffr)
4. What Microwaveable Macaroni & Cheese is the Best? - WHAT ARE WE EATING?!?! - The Wolfe Pit
(TheWolfePit)
5. Healthy mac and cheese I can eat more often without any guilt.
(How To Cook Smarter)
6. We Finally Know How Kraft Mac & Cheese Is Really Made
(Mashed)

Top Articles

You might also like

Latest Posts

Article information

Author: The Hon. Margery Christiansen

Last Updated: 11/23/2022

Views: 6680

Rating: 5 / 5 (70 voted)

Reviews: 93% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: The Hon. Margery Christiansen

Birthday: 2000-07-07

Address: 5050 Breitenberg Knoll, New Robert, MI 45409

Phone: +2556892639372

Job: Investor Mining Engineer

Hobby: Sketching, Cosplaying, Glassblowing, Genealogy, Crocheting, Archery, Skateboarding

Introduction: My name is The Hon. Margery Christiansen, I am a bright, adorable, precious, inexpensive, gorgeous, comfortable, happy person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.