Colby Jack Cheese: a Nutritional Guide

Colby Jack is a widely popular variety of cheese made in the United States.

Renowned for its versatility, the cheese features in a wide range of foods. But what exactly does it offer in terms of nutrition?

This article provides a comprehensive nutritional guide to Colby Jack.

What Is Colby Jack?

A large block of Colby Jack cheese on a chopping board.

Colby Jack is an American cheese created by combining two distinct cheeses: Colby and Monterey Jack.

Both Colby and Monterey Jack are mild, Cheddar-like cheeses. The primary difference between the two lies in their color: Colby is orange and Monterey Jack has a creamy white appearance.

Characteristics

Since Colby Jack is a blend of the two cheese varieties, it has a marbled white and orange appearance.

As both Colby and Monterey Jack are washed curd cheeses, their curds undergo a washing process during production (1, 2).

Washing cheese curds lowers the lactose (milk sugar) content of the cheese, which reduces the subsequent production lactic acid by bacteria during fermentation.

This lower lactic acid content means Colby Jack has a relatively mild taste without the tangy notes associated with cheeses like Cheddar.

Colby Jack is a semi-hard cheese with a smooth texture that has excellent melting properties, and it offers a mild, slightly creamy, and mildly sweet flavor.

When used as an ingredient in recipes, Colby Jack offers a nice flavor, and it isn’t overpoweringly strong.

For these reasons, the cheese is incredibly versatile and can be consumed on its own or included in a variety of dishes.

Origin and History

Colby Jack, introduced in the latter half of the 20th century, is a relatively modern cheese.

The two cheeses that compose it, Colby and Monterey Jack, have older origins, with Colby being invented in 1885 and Monterey Jack dating back to the late 18th century (3, 4).

Key Point: Colby Jack is a mild and slightly sweet cheese produced by combining Colby and Monterey Jack cheese.

The Nutritional Profile of Colby Jack

Now that we know about the characteristics of Colby Jack, let’s explore what it offers nutritionally.

The following tables present the full nutritional values of Colby Jack per ounce (28.35g) serving.

This nutritional data is sourced from the USDA’s FoodData Central database (5), with daily values calculated based on the FDA’s recommended daily values (6).

NutrientAmount% Daily Value
Calories109 kcal
Carbohydrates0.46 g0.2%
Fiber0 g0%
Sugars0.15 g
Fat8.84 g11.3%
Saturated5.56 g27.8%
Monounsaturated2.56 g
Polyunsaturated0.26 g
Omega-30.19 g
Omega-60.08 g
Protein6.83 g13.7%
Cholesterol26.1 mg8.7%
Table 1: Nutrition facts for Colby Jack cheese per ounce (28.35g) serving

Vitamins

VitaminAmount% Daily Value
Choline4.37 mg0.8%
Folate, DFE5.1 mcg1.3%
Vitamin A, RAE65.5 mcg7.3%
Vitamin B1 (thiamin)0.004 mg0.3%
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)0.11 mg8.5%
Vitamin B3 (niacin)0.03 mg0.2%
Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid)
Vitamin B6 0.02 mg1.2%
Vitamin B120.24 mcg10.0%
Vitamin C0 mg0%
Vitamin D0.17 mcg0.9%
Vitamin E0.08 mg0.5%
Vitamin K0.74 mcg0.6%
Table 2: Vitamin composition of Colby Jack cheese per ounce (28.35g) serving

Minerals

MineralAmount% Daily Value
Calcium203 mg15.6%
Copper0.01 mg1.1%
Iron0.21 mg1.2%
Magnesium7.37 mg1.8%
Manganese
Phosphorus128 mg10.2%
Potassium29.5 mg0.6%
Selenium4.11 mcg7.5%
Sodium171 mg7.4%
Zinc0.86 mg7.8%
Table 3: Mineral composition of Colby Jack cheese per ounce (28.35g) serving

What Are the Main Benefits of Colby Jack?

Colby Jack may offer several potential benefits, which we will now summarize.

Broad Nutrient Provision

As with other cheese varieties, the primary benefits of Colby Jack are its protein and calcium content.

A single ounce (28.35g) serving of Colby Jack provides 14% of the daily value for protein and 16% for calcium. Additionally, Colby Jack is an excellent source of vitamins B2 and 12, phosphorus, selenium, and zinc.

Among these nutrients, calcium, phosphorus, and protein are crucial for supporting and maintaining bone health (7, 8)

For more on protein in cheese, see this guide:

30 High-Protein Cheeses: Which Offer the Most?

Low Lactose Content

Individuals with lactose intolerance can generally tolerate medium-hard cheeses due to their relatively low lactose content. Unlike milk, which can contain around 10 grams of lactose per cup, medium-hard cheeses like Colby Jack contain minimal amounts of lactose (9).

As previously discussed, Colby Jack is also a washed curd cheese and has a very low lactose content.

According to the National Institutes of Health, research suggests that many individuals with lactose intolerance can handle up to around 12 grams of lactose without experiencing significant symptoms (10).

To put this into context, Colby Jack only contains approximately 0.15 grams of lactose per ounce serving, which is equal to 0.51 grams of lactose per 100 grams (5).

Key Point: Colby Jack is an excellent source of vitamin B12, calcium, phosphorus, and protein. It also contains a broad range of additional essential vitamins and minerals.

Does Colby Jack Have Any Nutritional Downsides?

Colby Jack does not have any unique nutritional downsides that aren’t shared by other medium-hard cheeses.

However, it is relatively high in sodium and saturated fat. Diets high in these nutrients can potentially elevate LDL-Cholesterol (saturated fat) and blood pressure (sodium), which may increase the risk for cardiovascular disease (11, 12).

At recommended serving levels, Colby Jack provides 28% of the daily value for saturated fat and 7% of the recommended value for sodium (5, 6).

In other words, when consumed in moderation as part of a balanced diet, these levels should not be a concern.

However, as with any medium-hard cheese, over-consuming Colby Jack can lead to excessive intake of sodium and saturated fat.

Key Point: Colby Jack is high in sodium and saturated fat. However, like with any cheese, it can fit into a healthy dietary pattern when consumed in moderation.

How Does Colby Jack Compare Nutritionally To Similar Types of Cheese?

Colby Jack is nutritionally similar to other medium-hard cheese options. For those interested in a detailed comparison, let’s delve deeper.

The table below compares the nutritional values of Colby Jack to Cheddar, Edam, and Gouda per ounce (28.35g) serving.

All nutritional data is sourced from the USDA’s FoodData Central database (5, 13, 14, 15).

NutrientColby JackCheddarEdamGouda
Calories109 kcal116 kcal101 kcal101 kcal
Carbohydrates0.46 g0.69 g0.41 g0.63 g
Fat8.84 g9.64 g8.11 g7.77 g
Saturated5.56 g5.44 g5.3 g4.99 g
Protein6.83 g6.61 g7.09 g7.06 g
Cholesterol26.1 mg28.4 mg25.2 mg32.3 mg
Sodium171 mg185 mg276 mg232 mg
Table 4: A nutritional comparison of Colby Jack, Cheddar, Edam, and Gouda cheese per ounce (28.35g) serving

For more information on Cheddar and Gouda, please refer to these guides:

Cheddar Cheese 101: Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Gouda Cheese 101: Nutrition, Taste, and How To Eat It

Key Point: As indicated in the table, Colby Jack has a similar nutritional composition to other popular semi-hard cheese options.

Tips For Using Colby Jack

Since Colby Jack is a mild and creamy-tasting cheese, it can be a useful ingredient in many dishes.

Here are some popular ways to use it:

  1. Baked potato topping: Add some grated Colby Jack to a hot baked potato.
  2. Cheese and crackers: As a mild cheese, Colby Jack pairs well with crackers.
  3. Casseroles and gratins: Use it to add some flavor to casseroles and gratins without overpowering other ingredients in them.
  4. Omelet: Colby Jack melts exceptionally well, making it a great cheese for omelets.
  5. Pasta dishes: Colby Jack can work well in a pasta dish, but it won’t add the depth of flavor as cheese options like Parmesan.
  6. Pizza: Add Colby Jack to a homemade pizza.
  7. Sandwiches and toasties: Its melting properties make Colby Jack work especially well in toasted sandwiches.
  8. Scrambled eggs: Mix some grated Colby Jack into scrambled eggs to add some cheese flavor.
  9. Served with fruit and nuts: Combine a serving of Colby Jack with some fresh fruit and mixed nuts for a small, nutritious plate.
  10. Soups and stews: Mix a small serving of Colby Jack into a soup or stew for extra flavor.

References

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21605738/
  2. https://facerockcreamery.com/blogs/face-rock-blog/meet-the-master-melter-monterey-jack
  3. https://www.foodpreserving.org/2016/09/history-of-colby-cheese.html
  4. https://www.cheeseprofessor.com/blog/monterey-jack-history
  5. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/2341116/nutrients
  6. https://www.fda.gov/food/new-nutrition-facts-label/daily-value-new-nutrition-and-supplement-facts-labels
  7. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22081690/
  8. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17092827/
  9. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/lactose-intolerance
  10. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/lactose-intolerance/eating-diet-nutrition
  11. https://academic.oup.com/eurheartj/article/41/24/2313/5735221
  12. https://www.bmj.com/content/368/bmj.m315
  13. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/2341112/nutrients
  14. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/173419/nutrients
  15. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/171241/nutrients
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Michael Joseph, MSc

Michael works as a nutrition educator in a community setting and holds a Master's Degree in Clinical Nutrition. He believes in providing reliable and objective nutritional information to allow informed decisions.