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March 11, 2019

The internet is saying Cheez Whiz is healthy — well, not exactly

Some say the cheesesteak topping contains a fatty acid that can aid weight loss – and even fight cancer

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03112019_cheesesteak_wiki Source/Wikimedia Commons

A Philly cheesesteak slathered in Cheez Whiz.

Here in Philly, a cheesesteak would feel naked without the salty, creamy and rich likeness of Cheez Whiz.

Of course, this highly processed cheese sauce is generally regarded as a black-listed item for those who try to eat healthy unless, of course, it’s poured atop a pile of thinly sliced ribeye and fried onions on a long roll. (Who can resist the local classic, after all?)

But now, some fitness influencers and experts are trying to redeem Cheez Whiz, claiming the cheese sauce contains high levels of a certain fatty acid that can potentially aid weight loss and fitness, and maybe even fight cancer.

Can cheesesteaks get even more popular in Philly?

The health-promoting fatty acid is called CLA, or conjugated linoleic acid, which naturally occurs in meat and dairy products and has been shown to help burn fat and build muscle. CLA has even earned the product a top spot on Shape’s “healthy junk foods” list, citing that “Cheese Whiz turns out to have more of this cancer-fighting compound than any regular cheese.” 


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CLA is essentially a type of polyunsaturated, omega-6 fatty acid. In other words, it’s technically a trans fat — but a natural type of trans fat that occurs in many healthy foods, Healthline reports.

Interestingly, CLA may be one of the most comprehensively studied weight loss supplement in the world. Further, some studies indicate that CLA can cause significant fat loss in humans. It may also improve body composition by reducing body fat and increasing muscle mass, Healthline reports.

These weight loss effects may be statistically significant, but remember that they are small — and there is potential for side effects.

Cheez Whiz contains five milligrams of CLA per gram of fat, according to National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. Comparatively, homogenized milk has 5.5 milligrams of CLA per gram of fat, beef has three to four milligrams, chicken 0.9 milligrams, seafood less than one milligram and cheeses range from 3.5 to six milligrams.

cheez whiz healthy flickrLibby H/Flickr

Cans of Cheez Whiz from Kraft.

 

But most health experts agree these limited health benefits are not a license to dive into a vat of the stuff.

“I will never promote the intake of Cheez Whiz,” Dusty Marie Narducci, assistant professor at the University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine tells Huffington Post. “The other ingredients of Cheez Whiz will most likely counteract any health benefits potentially associated with the high level of CLA.”

The best non-Cheez Whiz sources of CLA include butter from grass-fed cows, full-fat raw dairy products, grass-fed beef, dairy from sheep or goats and grass-fed lamb, veal, turkey and seafood, according to Dr. Axe. Iron Man Magazine adds that “one of the richest natural sources" of the amino acid is egg yolks. 

CLA is also available in softgel capsule supplements. The advantage to this form of CLA is that there is no guesswork about how much to take or whether the measurement was accurate. The CLA can be taken at specific times and at a precise dosage, according to Exercise.com

The moral of the story? While you probably shouldn’t structure your diet around Cheez Whiz, you can feel a little less guilty when indulging in a cheesesteak from your favorite local spot – it is slathered in a bit of healthy goodness.

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