Kraft’s Not-exactly-Whole-Grain Mac ‘n Cheese

Kraft Whole Grain Mac n Cheese

For Kraft, mac n cheese is a big business. But the standard mac ‘n cheese is not that healthy – processed flour, tons of saturated fat from the cheese, artificial colors, and additives.

So Kraft is trying to healthify its offering by selling a whole grain version. Does the whole grain version stand up to Fooducate’s rigorous standards?

What you need to know:

Let’s start with the packaging. From afar, it the front of pack boldly boasts a “Whole Grain” dish. Upon closer inspection, and in a lighter, small font, you can see “made with 50%”. So it’s only half whole grains. Not cool.

Now let’s turn our attention to the ingredient list:

enriched pasta product (whole durum wheat flour, durum wheat semolina flour, glyceryl monostearate, niacin, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, ferrous sulfate), cheese sauce mix (whey, corn syrup solids, palm oil, milkfat, salt, milk protein concentrate, contains less than 2% of medium chain triglycerides, sodium tripolyphosphate, citric acid, sodium phosphate, natural flavor, lactic acid, calcium phosphate, monosodium glutamate, yellow 5, yellow 6, artificial flavor, enzymes, cheese culture), modified food starch, maltodextrin, potassium chloride, acetylated monoglycerides, salt, medium chain triglycerides, apocarotenal (color).

The first 2 ingredients are the flours used to make the pasta. Durum is the type of wheat usually used for pasta. It has a higher protein content than standard wheat and is more fitting for pasta. The first flour is whole. But the second one – semolina – is not.

The cheese sauce is made from a bunch of goop, but cheese is not part of it. Thank goodness for the “natural flavors” added, they probably provide the flavor profile that will trick your nose and tongue to believe you are consuming cheese.

And to enhance visual effects, artificial colors yellow 5, and yellow 6 are added. Artificial colors are potentially carcinogenic and cause hyperactivity is some children.

A 2 ounce serving of half-Whole-Grain mac n cheese 220 calories. Despite being half whole grain, it does have 3 grams of fiber (12% of the daily requirement). Sodium is high – 480 mg, which 20% of the daily max – especially considering the relatively small portion size. Saturated fat, always a concern when cheese is around, is not that bad – 2 grams (10% of the daily max). Again, this is a small portion.

Bottom line: Look elsewhere for mac n cheese. Please Kraft, try a bit harder.

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  • Brian Klein

    If you eat the majority of your calories from “heart healthy whole grains,” you can bet you will get a metabolic disorder of some sort in your lifetime. It’s better to get fiber from vegetables. Eat lots of vegetables, and melt some raw cheddar cheese on top of them, or cook them in butter. But get your cheese and butter from pasture raised cows. It’s not the saturated fat in this product that is bad, it’s the highly processed nature of the product. Saturated fat is a highly protective food if obtained through clean sources.

    • Eric

      [If you eat the majority of your calories from "heart healthy whole grains," you can bet you will get a metabolic disorder of some sort in your lifetime.]

      Just curious why this is so? Never heard of this before, and a Google search only came up with positive links between whole grains and the metabolic syndrome. Can you point me in the right direction?

      • Brian Klein

        Most advice is to follow a diet in whole grains, not the white/processed grains, but there is a growing body of evidence that if you base your diet on them, they are just as problematic. They are very carbohydrate rich foods, and cause insulin spikes and lead to body-fat accumulation. Note that I am not suggesting that they should be completely avoided (or carbs in general) nor do I think that you might as well go with the processed grains. They should just be minimized. There’s a difference between a balanced approach of the macronutrients and over-”carb”-sumption.

        One place to start would be to read Wheatbelly by William Davis. He makes a very strong case against all wheat, except for maybe the most primitive forms (einkorn.) I don’t necessarily follow that aspect of the book, but he brings to light a lot of what is wrong with the “healthy whole wheat” addage. There is a lot of discussion about this in the paleo community… if you looked through some of Robb Wolf or Mark Sisson’s work, you would find more.

    • aemish

      Cauliflower with cheese sauce is an awesome substitute

  • Chef Marshall

    I wish companies instead of writing “natural flavor” would just state what the actual ingredient is. I understand that “natural flavor” may be a proprietary blend of stuff. That is what concerns me in the first place, a lack of transparency. If companies wrote what the actual ingredient was, I’m thinking people would not want to eat it….. Fooducate, your thoughts?

    • agree

      I can’t speak for fooducate but I cannot tell you how many times I have said the exact thing to myself. It really irks me that companies do not let us have the full truth. Just make everything transparent and then we won’t feel the need to be concerned.

    • Fooducate

      Many times, the companies themselves don’t exactly know. They buy the flavoring from flavor labs that concoct a potion from what could be tens or hundreds of base raw materials. The makeup of each is guarded with great secrecy.

      • eew


  • aemish

    Can Fooducate do a break down on Amy’s Organic mac n cheese? I don’t eat it but my 6-year-old does

  • jane

    I haven’t bought mac and cheese in.ages, this isn’t going to change that.

  • Daarkredeemer

    So what is natural flavor?