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All other things equal, is melted cheese less healthy than "raw" chease of the same kind?

In other words, is there difference between a slice of toasted bread, with chease on top that's been melted in the microwave, and the same bread, untoasted, with the cheese unmelted.

It's seems as if it's less healthy, but maybe that's just because it's greasy, and tastier (to me at least), and is usually served with less healthy options that normal cheese.

On the other hand, maybe the ratio of saturated to un-saturated fat changes.

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1  
There really should be a funny question category :-) I'm pretty sure, we are talking the difference between 200 and 201 in unhealthiness :-) –  Tonny Madsen Sep 4 '11 at 15:10
    
There is no difference, and - basically - you should never eat bread! Just eat 3x as much cheese instead. And have some eggs and steaks with it. But don't eat bread. –  Joe Blow Sep 4 '11 at 17:16

2 Answers 2

up vote 5 down vote accepted

There can be no blanket answer to this question as there is quite a difference among available cheeses.

Cheap American cheese (the processed kind) are not made with any kind of milk, and are a based instead on oil. When the cheese melts, it separates and becomes greasy. When it returns to a solid, the texture of the "cheese" is more like plastic than anything good. However this class of cheese also does not have any redeeming value--it's high in sodium, no calcium, and essentially no protein either.

Some cheeses do not fundamentally change when heated past its melting point, such as a good goat/chevre style cheese. These cheeses usually have a fairly low melting point, and retain their properties when they return to solid form. There will be little difference between melted and solid forms of this cheese. Plenty of protein, based on milk, has calcium, as well as the fats. Some cheeses have carb content (sugar), but most don't.

Other cheeses have high melting points, such as a Parmesan cheese. These tend to retain their form very well and have very little change due to heat--even less change than the softer, lower melting point cheeses. These cheeses have plenty of protein and not quite as much fat as the softer cheeses.

Even these guidelines are broad sweeping generalities. You'll find cheeses that live somewhere in between the general classes I listed here. If the starting cheese is bad for you (processed cheese product) the melted variation isn't going to be any better. Heat can be a destructive force, but even cooking eggs doesn't significantly change the protein content of the egg. The same principle applies to cheeses.

Typically in cooking, the structure of the proteins will change somewhat. This is why cooked chicken is white and firm instead of pink and spongy. Due to the relatively high fat content of most cheeses, the protein isn't in high enough concentration to really have a substantial change in configuration. It's unclear to me whether the cooking destroys some proteins or simply reconfigures it at the molecular level. All I know is that there is a change.

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Could you please cite some references for American cheese? Cheap American cheese (the processed kind) is made with milk, whey, milk fat and whey protein concentrate. It's protein content is similar to other cheeses. –  Jeremy Stein Sep 8 '11 at 19:40

It's fantastically unlikely that there are any appreciable differences between the two. Regardless, I'm sure someone will find some minor dissimilarities to quibble about. When they do, remember that these are almost certainly insignificant. If the difference is significant, it's unlikely that you'll be able to get a hard-and-fast assurance as to which one is better.

It's hard to conceive of a scenario in which choosing between melted and unmelted cheese--even if you made the decision and stuck to it for a century--would make the slightest smidge of difference in terms of your health.

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3  
-1 completely uninformative –  michael Sep 5 '11 at 1:57

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