Is Pimento Cheese Healthy?

Pimento cheese, also known as pimiento cheese, is a spread typically made from cheese, mayonnaise, and pimientos.

It is all blended together until it forms the desired consistency, whether that be smooth or chunky. While it is not necessarily healthy by itself, it can be when eaten properly.

Is Pimento Cheese Healthy?

It is popularly made in the Southern United States and is also a snack in the Philippines.

The exact ingredients of pimento cheese vary based on the region, with many families having their own recipe that they follow.

It is commonly served on crackers or vegetables. Pimento cheese sandwiches are also a quick and cheap meal.

What Is A Pimiento?

A pimiento is a type of chili pepper. It is relatively large, red, and shaped like a heart. It can come in yellow and green varieties and sometimes red pimientos will be green before they ripen.

They are quite sweet in flavor, similar to bell peppers. You are able to get varieties that are spicy like Floral Gem and Santa Fe Grande.

Apart from being used in pimento cheese, pimientos are also commonly stuffed into green olives.

Homemade Pimento Cheese

While you can buy premade pimento cheese in a lot of stores, it is very easy to make at home. Below we have a basic pimento cheese recipe you can follow.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups of your cheese of choice – cheddar is recommended
  • ½ cup of mayonnaise
  • ⅓ cup of chopped pimentos

Method

  1. Add all the ingredients into a blender and blend until the desired consistency.

This recipe can be adapted to fit your tastes. In different states, the ingredients for pimento cheese may also change.

Some additions can be horseradish, garlic, cream cheese, cayenne pepper, hot sauce, onions, or dill pickles. If unsure how much to add, blend the additional ingredients separately and add to the pimento cheese until it is at the desired flavor.

Pimento cheese is commonly served on crackers as appetizers, they may also have some additional meat on the crackers to go with the cheese.

It can also be added to mashed egg yolks when making devilled eggs to add a unique flavor difference.

Some other less common ways to serve pimento cheese are layered on top of a hot dog or added to grits. Wherever you can add cheese to a dish, pimento cheese can be used instead to provide a creamy texture and a slight sweetness from the pimentos.

How Can Pimento Cheese Be Healthy?

Is Pimento Cheese Healthy?

At first glance, pimento cheese isn’t healthy. It is a spread made from cheese and mayonnaise, and while pimentos are healthy, there isn’t enough in the spread to make a large difference. 

The reason we say that pimento cheese is great to add to a diet is that it is an easy way to make fruit and vegetables tasty.

Many people’s main issue with starting a diet is that they simply don’t enjoy how fruit and vegetables taste, adding pimento cheese to a fruit or vegetable greatly changes the flavor profile.

Pimento cheese allows you to easily get fruits and vegetables into your diet. Of course, you need to consume pimento cheese in moderation. It is still packed full of cheese and mayonnaise so you only need to have a small amount on your fruit and vegetables.

Fortunately, you only need a small amount in order to taste it.

Pimento cheese is also a great spread for people who are on a gluten-free diet. It is easy on many people’s digestive systems, but also bad on many others since it is primarily dairy.

Nutrition

While all pimento cheeses are different, especially if you make your own at home, they all have relatively similar amounts of nutrition. 

Below we have the nutritional value of a commercially made pasteurized pimento cheese. This is the amount in a typical 1-ounce serving.

  • 106 calories
  • 8.85g fat – 11% of the daily recommendation
  • 6.27g protein
  • 5.57g saturated fat – 37% of the daily recommendation
  • 0.49g carbohydrate
  • 259mg sodium – 11% of the daily recommendation
  • 46mg potassium – 1% of the daily recommendation
  • 27mg cholesterol – 9% of the daily recommendation

It also has:

  • 22% of daily recommended phosphorus 
  • 18% of daily recommended calcium
  • 9% of daily recommended vitamin B12
  • 8% of daily recommended riboflavin and vitamin A
  • 6% of daily recommended zinc
  • 6% of daily recommended selenium

Pimento cheese is very high in saturated fat, phosphorus, and calcium.

Saturated fat is commonly found in cheese, butter, and fatty meats. It should be eaten in moderation because it can raise cholesterol.

Phosphorus is an essential mineral for humans. It is naturally found in animal products like meat and cheese. It is needed to keep bones strong and to keep the rest of the body functioning properly. This is because it is used to create new cells in the body. 

Calcium is mainly found in dairy products, it is commonly associated with healthy bones and teeth. It can also help with blood clotting which is important for wound recovery and it can regulate nerve functions.

An ounce of pimento cheese contains almost a 5th of the recommended daily amount of calcium.

Final Thoughts

Pimento cheese is a Southern classic, with many people calling it ‘the caviar of the South’. It is considered a cheap and easy food to make, but also relatively fancy.

It is popularly served in sandwiches in the Masters Tournament, one of 4 major championships in golf. It is so popular there that minor controversy happened in 2013 when the recipe was changed for the pimento cheese resulting in a different tasting sandwich.

While pimento cheese isn’t overly healthy by itself, it can be added to a healthy diet in order to make eating fruits and vegetables more enjoyable for some people. Dieting isn’t easy and anything that can make it more fun to do should be commended.

Jenna Priestly
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