String cheese is a unique kind of cheese, having a thread-like structure. While eating string cheese, you can peel the individual cheese ‘strings’ into separate strands.
Naturally, then, the idea of string cheese is quite tempting. However, this product is a processed one, which means that there is a big question mark regarding its health quotient.
So, is string cheese a healthy snack? By discussing the ingredient profile for string cheese, its preparation process, and the nutritional value, this is exactly the question that this article will attempt to answer.
Ingredients Used in String Cheese:
String cheese is made using the following ingredients:
- Cheese cultures
- Pasteurized milk
You can also find a reduced-fat version of string cheese, but it will have a similar ingredient profile. The only difference will be that the reduced-fat version will use partly-skimmed milk instead of whole milk. Also, unlike whole milk, skimmed milk does not contain natural Vitamin A, which is why the reduced-fat cheese might also contain Vitamin A additives.
So, the ingredient profile for reduced-fat string cheese might be:
- Cheese cultures
- Part-skim, pasteurized milk
- Palmitate of Vitamin A
How is String Cheese Prepared?
Owing to the stringy, strange texture of string cheese, people often wonder about the way in which this cheese is prepared and the chemical additives that it might contain.
The good news is that string cheese does not contain any chemical additives. Besides, the production process is also fairly straightforward.
The process starts by taking a fresh cheese piece. Usually, the cheese used is Mozzarella, but it is not uncommon to use other types (such as Cheddar). Regardless of the cheese type used, the end goal is to process it in such a way that the end product can be peeled into strings.
As per Catherine Donnelly from the Oxford Companion to Cheese, the stranding is achieved through a process known as ‘plasticization’. Even though the term ‘plasticization’ seems pretty alarming, it is just used to describe a process where heat is used to alter the structural properties of a substance.
The process is pretty straightforward, and involves heating the curd of cheese until it reaches a temperature of 57 to 60 degrees Celsius (135 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit). To achieve this objective, the piece of cheese is immersed inside a hot brine or hot water with a temperature of around 78 degrees Celsius (172 degrees Fahrenheit) while being stretched and kneaded.
This alters the alignment of fibers, calcium, and proteins present in the cheese in a way that strands are formed as a result of peeling the cheese.
Nutrition Present in String Cheese:
Below, we discuss the nutritional value for a single string cheese serving (28 grams/ 1 ounce). This information has been derived through the database of the NCC Food and Nutrient.
Nutritional Profile for a Single Serving of String Cheese:
|Polyunsaturated fats||0.24 grams|
|Monounsaturated fats||1.45 grams|
|Saturated fats||3.20 grams|
- Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin): 8% of RDV
- Vitamin B3 (Niacin): 0.3% of RDV
- Vitamin B12: 20% of RDV
- Folate: 2% of RDV
- Vitamin A: 7% of RDV
- Vitamin D: 1% of RDV
- Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid): 2% of RDV
- Vitamin B6: 2% of RDV
- Vitamin E: 1% of RDV
- Choline: 1% of RDV
- Vitamin K: 0.3% of RDV
As you can see, just a single string cheese serving offers a range of different vitamins. What’s more important is that string cheese can fulfill 20% of your daily vitamin B12 requirement.
Vitamin B12, as you are probably aware, is an immensely important vitamin and plays a key role in cell metabolism, nervous system functioning, and even DNA formation.
Vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to a host of symptoms and issues, including iron-deficiency anemia.
- Iron: 0.3% of RDV
- Manganese: 0.4% of RDV
- Copper: 1% of RDV
- Potassium: 1% of RDV
- Manganese: 2% of RDV
- Sodium: 8% of RDV
- Zinc: 9% of RDV
- Phosphorus: 12% of RDV
- Selenium: 14% of RDV
- Calcium: 15% of RDV
As is the case with vitamins, string cheese is a source of many different vitamins, the most notable of which are calcium and selenium.
Calcium is mostly found in dairy items, and is crucial in the development and maintenance of healthy bones. As per a systematic review, those who use Vitamin D and calcium supplements on a daily basis are at a reduced risk of developing fractures.
Selenium, too, is very important for our bodies, and has multiple key roles to play within the immune system. The vitamin also helps produce several seleno-enzymes that serve as antioxidants throughout our bodies.
What Are the Disadvantages of String Cheese?
Contrary to what many people think, string cheese does not contain any insidious or harmful chemicals or additives. In fact, string cheese is just regular cheese that has been stretched and heated.
However, there is one disadvantage associated with string cheese which is that, when compared to regular cheese, string cheese has a lower per-gram value. To put it differently, integrating the ‘peel’ property, as well as the marketing and packaging costs, mean that string cheese has a slightly higher per-gram cost for the consumer.
Our Final Thoughts:
String cheese is not only safe to consume, but also contains a number of essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. In addition, it is pretty affordable, and a fun snack to eat for people of all ages.
One must remember that string cheese will never be able to take on regular, high-quality cheese in terms of taste. However, the key purpose behind string cheese is to offer a convenient and fairly nutritious snack, at a decent price.
All in all, string cheese is one of the healthier on-the-go snack options.