Is string cheese a healthy food?

String cheese is a popular snack, especially among kids. But is it actually a healthy choice? Here is a comprehensive look at the nutrition facts, ingredients, and health effects of string cheese.

What is String Cheese?

String cheese refers to a snack made of mozzarella cheese that has been manufactured into a rope-like shape that can be peeled into strings. It originated in the 1970s as a way to repackage scrap mozzarella from pizza-making into a convenient, kid-friendly food.

Traditional string cheese is made from just three ingredients: pasteurized part-skim milk, cheese cultures, and salt. The cheese mixture is heated and stretched to align the proteins into strings, then molded into ropes. After cooling, it can be peeled into strings.

String cheese is lower in fat and calories than regular mozzarella cheese since it uses part-skim milk. A 1 ounce stick of part-skim mozzarella string cheese contains about:

Calories 80
Total fat 5g
Saturated fat 3g
Protein 7g
Calcium 15% DV
Sodium 170mg

Nutritional Pros of String Cheese

Here are some of the key nutrients found in string cheese:


String cheese is a good source of protein, providing about 7 grams in a 1 ounce stick. Protein helps keep you full and satisfied, builds and repairs muscle tissue, and supports the immune system.

Getting enough protein is especially important for active kids and teens who need it for growth and development. String cheese makes for a protein-rich on-the-go snack.


String cheese provides 15% of the daily value for calcium in just 1 ounce. Calcium plays vital roles like building strong bones and teeth, regulating heart rhythm, and supporting muscle and nerve function.

Most people fall short on calcium, so string cheese can help kids meet their recommended daily intake for this mineral.

Vitamin A

String cheese contains small amounts of vitamin A, an essential nutrient that promotes good vision and eye health, supports the immune system, and aids in cell growth. Vitamin A deficiency is a major health concern in developing countries.

Vitamin B12

String cheese provides vitamin B12, a nutrient that helps make red blood cells and DNA, keeps nerves healthy, and supports brain function. Vitamin B12 is only naturally found in animal foods, so string cheese can help vegetarians prevent a deficiency.


Phosphorus is a mineral that works closely with calcium to build bones and teeth. String cheese contains phosphorus to support bone health.


String cheese requires no prep and is portable, making it an easy grab-and-go snack for hurried school days. Its protein and other nutrients can help tide kids over until their next meal. Having quick, nutritious snacks on hand may prevent kids from eating junk food when hunger strikes.

Potential Cons of String Cheese

While string cheese has some nutritional upside, there are also a few potential downsides:

Saturated Fat

Even though it uses part-skim milk, string cheese is still relatively high in saturated fat, providing about 20% of the daily value.

There is controversy around whether saturated fat increases heart disease risk. While limits were once recommended, recent research indicates saturated fat is not as concerning as once thought. Still, the American Heart Association still advises limiting saturated fat intake.

For kids, the saturated fat in string cheese is likely not a big issue. But those with high cholesterol should enjoy string cheese in moderation.


String cheese contains added salt for flavor, providing about 7% of the recommended daily sodium intake. Consuming too much sodium can increase blood pressure in some people.

Again, the sodium levels are not too concerning for healthy kids. But they could be an issue for those following low-sodium diets.

Allergies and Sensitivities

String cheese contains milk, so those with milk allergies or lactose intolerance need to avoid it. Many string cheese brands also contain ingredients like whey protein concentrate and milk protein concentrate, which some may be sensitive to.

Always check labels for ingredients that may be problematic for you or your child.

Lack of Other Nutrients

While string cheese contains protein and some vitamins and minerals, it lacks other beneficial nutrients like fiber, antioxidants, and healthy fats. It should not be a dietary staple.

Highly Processed

Though traditional string cheese has minimal ingredients, the manufacturing process means it is more processed than natural cheese. Heavily processed foods may be linked to increased cancer and chronic disease risks.

Some varieties of string cheese also contain preservatives, artificial colors, added sugars, and other concerning ingredients. Check labels and choose products with clean ingredients.

Portion Control

Each stick of string cheese is an individually wrapped, single-serving portion. This can make it easy to overeat. Kids may consume several portions in a sitting when just one stick is a serving.

To prevent overeating, consider the standard 1 ounce stick as one portion and avoid consuming multiple sticks in a short period.

Healthier String Cheese Options

Traditional string cheese made simply from milk, cultures, and salt is a fairly healthy choice. But there are some strategies to make string cheese even better for you:

Choose Organic

Organic string cheese comes from cows not treated with growth hormones or antibiotics. It also cannot contain artificial preservatives, colors, flavors, or GMOs. Look for organic string cheese from brands like Organic Valley.

Go Grass-Fed

String cheese from grass-fed cows contains higher omega-3s and antioxidants. Grass-fed dairy may also be less allergenic for those sensitive to dairy.

Pick Probiotic-Rich

Some brands make string cheese using natural probiotic cultures. Consuming probiotics can benefit digestive and immune system health. Check labels for added probiotic bacteria strains.

Avoid Dyes and Additives

Some flavored string cheese products contain artificial food dyes, preservatives like potassium sorbate, and other additives. Choose products without these unnecessary ingredients.

Watch the Salt

To limit sodium intake, look for low-sodium or reduced salt string cheese. You can also rinse string cheese sticks under water for a few seconds to wash away some surface salt.

Healthy Ways to Enjoy String Cheese

Here are some nutritious ways to eat string cheese:

– Pair it with whole grain crackers, fresh fruit, or raw veggies for a balanced snack.

– Stuff peeled string cheese strands into a whole wheat pita or wrap with veggies for an easy lunch.

– Mix diced string cheese into cooked pasta dishes like mac and cheese or pasta salad.

– Top a tossed green salad with shredded string cheese and chickpeas for added protein.

– Serve string cheese sticks with apple slices and whole grain crackers for a snack platter.

– Stir string cheese shreds into scrambled eggs or omelets.

– Use string cheese strips instead of bacon bits as a salad topping.

– Blend string cheese into smoothies for extra protein.

– Grate or finely dice string cheese to use as a sandwich filling.

Is String Cheese Healthy for Kids?

String cheese can be a nutritious choice for kids in moderation. The biggest benefits are its protein, calcium, vitamin A, and convenience factor. It provides important nutrients for growth and development.

Potential downsides are its saturated fat, sodium, and processed nature. But for active, healthy children, these are unlikely to pose issues.

To make string cheese even healthier, choose organic and grass-fed when possible. Read labels and avoid highly processed varieties with food dyes and additives.

Portion control is important, as the individually wrapped sticks can promote overeating. Limit kids to one or two per snack time. And pair string cheese with other wholesome foods like fruits, veggies, and whole grains for a balanced snack.

Overall, string cheese makes a good occasional snack for kids. It should not replace other nutritious whole foods as a dietary staple. Offer a variety of healthy snacks like fresh fruit, yogurt, nuts, crackers, and cut-up veggies too.

Is String Cheese Healthy for Adults?

String cheese can also be a healthy choice for adults in moderation. The protein is useful whether you are active or more sedentary and trying to preserve muscle mass as you age. The calcium also helps maintain bone density.

However, adults should be more conscious of limiting saturated fat and sodium intake than kids. Those with heart disease, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol should limit string cheese for that reason.

Choosing lower sodium, grass-fed, or organic string cheese is wise for adults. And string cheese is better enjoyed as part of a varied, wholesome diet, not a daily go-to snack.

Pair string cheese with whole grains, produce, healthy fats, and lean proteins for balanced nutrition. Limit portion sizes to about 1-2 sticks per day at most. And consume it as part of an overall healthy lifestyle with regular exercise.

Within those parameters, string cheese can be part of a nutritious diet for adults. It provides a convenient protein source to help you stay satisfied between meals.

Do’s and Don’ts of String Cheese

Here are some dos and don’ts when it comes to buying and eating string cheese:


– Read labels and choose products with minimal ingredients
– Stick to 1-2 portions at a time
– Pair with fruits, veggies, whole grains for a balanced snack
– Choose organic and grass-fed when possible
– Go for low-sodium or reduced salt options
– Use it to add protein to meals and snacks
– Refrigerate after opening


– Make it a dietary staple or daily go-to snack
– Overeat and consume excessive portions
– Give it to young children as a choking hazard (cut into sticks instead)
– Assume it’s a calcium replacement for those avoiding dairy
– Store it unrefrigerated after opening
– Microwave it – it can become rubbery (enjoy it fresh)
– Expect it to provide complete nutrition by itself

The Bottom Line

String cheese can be part of a healthy diet, especially for kids, when consumed in moderation. It provides protein, calcium, and vitamin A in a convenient, portable form. But it is high in sodium and saturated fat, so portion control is key.

Choose organic and grass-fed string cheese when possible. Read labels to avoid artificial ingredients. Enjoy string cheese as part of a varied diet with plenty of whole foods. Pair it with fruits, veggies, and whole grains for balanced nutrition.

Within limits, string cheese is a fine occasional snack. But it should not become a dietary staple or replace other nutritious foods. Use it to add flavor and protein to meals and snacks in moderation.

Ultimately, string cheese is a processed food. While fine in moderation, emphasize wholesome, minimally processed foods like produce, lean proteins, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds for the majority of your family’s nutrition.

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