Did you know: Hot Cheetos were banned from some schools in California, Illinois, and New Mexico. Really. But what’s so bad about these spicy snacks? And do you need to worry about the Baked version, too? Are Baked Cheetos healthy?
Baked Cheetos have 50% less fat than regular Cheetos, but they are still not very healthy. They have several processed ingredients like vegetable oil, MSG, and artificial colors, with 1g or less of fiber per serving. Some children may experience stomach pain when eating large amounts of Baked Flamin’ Hot Cheetos.
Below, we’ll take a close look at Baked Cheetos nutrition. I’ll compare them to regular Cheetos and explore if they’re good for weight loss, if they cause cancer, or if Hot Cheetos can really “burn holes in your stomach.”
Are Baked Cheetos Bad for You?
Here are the 11 specific questions we’ll answer about Baked Cheetos nutrition. Click any of them to skip ahead—or just keep scrolling to read them all:
- What Are Baked Cheetos Made Of?
- Are Baked Cheetos High in Carbs?
- Are Baked Cheetos High in Fat?
- Are Baked Cheetos High in Sodium?
- Are the Artificial Colors in Baked Cheetos Safe?
- Are Baked Cheetos Good for Weight Loss?
- Are Baked Cheetos “Processed Food”?
- Do Baked Cheetos Cause Cancer?
- Can Baked Hot Cheetos Burn Holes in Your Stomach?
- Are Baked Cheetos Healthier Than Regular Cheetos?
- Are Baked Cheetos Vegan?
1. What Are Baked Cheetos Made Of?
Let’s start by looking at some actual Baked Cheetos ingredients. Do they contain anything you should be avoiding?
|Baked Cheetos Flavor||Ingredients|
|Crunchy Cheese||Enriched Corn Meal (Corn Meal, Ferrous Sulfate, Niacin, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Vegetable Oil (Corn, Canola, And/Or Sunflower Oil), Whey, Cheddar Cheese (Milk, Cheese Cultures, Salt, Enzymes), Maltodextrin (Made From Corn), Natural And Artificial Flavors, Salt, Whey Protein Concentrate, Monosodium Glutamate, Lactic Acid, Citric Acid, And Artificial Color (Yellow 6).|
|Flamin’ Hot||Enriched Corn Meal (Corn Meal, Ferrous Sulfate, Niacin, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Vegetable Oil (Corn, Canola, and/or Sunflower Oil), Salt, Sea Minerals (Calcium Carbonate and Magnesium Carbonate), Sugar, Monosodium Glutamate, Yeast Extracts, Citric Acid, Artificial Color (Red 40 Lake, Yellow 6 Lake, Yellow 6, Yellow 5), Hydrolyzed Corn Protein, Onion Powder, Cheddar Cheese (Milk, Cheese Cultures, Salt, Enzymes), Whey, Maltodextrin (Made from Corn), Whey Protein Concentrate, Garlic Powder, Buttermilk, Natural Flavor, Sodium Diacetate, Lactic Acid, Disodium Inosinate, Disodium Guanylate, and Skim Milk.|
Here’s what I noticed about these ingredients:
- Baked Cheetos have processed vegetable oil. Specifically, they have “Corn, Canola, and/or Sunflower Oil.” All of these highly processed oils add empty calories. Below, we’ll look at the fat in Baked Cheetos, and how it compares to other snacks.
- Baked Cheetos have artificial colors. Both flavors have Yellow 6. The Flamin’ Hot flavor has several more (Red 40 Lake, Yellow 6 Lake, Yellow 5). All these artificial colors are suspected to cause hyperactivity for some children, and some studies suggest possible links to cancer risk. See below for more.
- Baked Cheetos have MSG. Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is a somewhat controversial ingredient. When you look into the actual science, there’s not much evidence that it’s any worse than normal table salt… But if you prefer to avoid MSG, be aware: Baked Cheetos do have MSG.
- Baked Cheetos have dairy products. This isn’t a negative for everyone—but if you’re lactose intolerant, vegan, or otherwise dairy-free, then beware. Both flavors have cheese and whey, and the Flamin’ Hot flavor has even more dairy ingredients.
Baked Cheetos don’t look great in terms of the ingredients. They have several highly processed and/or artificial ingredients. But it’s not just the list of ingredients that matter—the quantity of each ingredient also matters.
So, next let’s look at the actual amount of carbs, fat, and sodium in Baked Cheetos, and how they compare to other snacks.
2. Are Baked Cheetos High in Carbs?
Baked Cheetos have 20g of carbs per serving (34 pieces), which is pretty high. The carb content of Baked Cheetos is similar to Goldfish, Triscuits, and other popular snacks. The main ingredient in Baked Cheetos is enriched corn flour, which is high in carbs.
Here’s a table showing the sugar and carb content for Baked Cheetos, compared to other snacks:
|Snack||Serving Size||Total Sugar||Total Carbs|
|Baked Crunchy Cheese Cheetos||34 pieces (28g)||1g||20g|
|Baked Flamin’ Hot Cheetos||34 pieces (28g)||<1g||20g|
|Takis||12 pieces (28g)||1g||17g|
|Cheez-It||27 crackers (30g)||0g||17g|
|Goldfish||55 pieces (30g)||<1g||20g|
|Wheat Thins||16 pieces (31g)||5g||22g|
|Triscuits||6 crackers (28g)||0g||20g|
As you can see, Baked Cheetos are just about average when it comes to carbs per serving. That said, Baked Cheetos avoid the considerable sugar content that Wheat Thins have.
- Do Baked Cheetos Have High Fructose Corn Syrup? Baked Cheetos do not have high fructose corn syrup or any added sugar ingredients.
- Can You Eat Baked Cheetos on Keto? Baked Cheetos are not very low carb or keto-friendly, with 20 grams of carbs per serving. About 60% of the calories in Baked Cheetos come from carbs.
3. Are Baked Cheetos High in Fat?
Baked Cheetos have 5 grams of fat per serving, including 1 gram of saturated fat. Despite being baked, not fried, Baked Cheetos still contain processed vegetable oil. They are not a low-fat food.
One of the reasons cited for banning Hot Cheetos from schools in California, Illinois, and New Mexico was the fat content. Huffington Post noted that a snack-sized bag has 26g of fat. So it’s understandable that a “Baked” version with less fat could be appealing.
Many people understand that baking is healthier than frying because less oil can be used. But don’t assume too much. Baked Cheetos still have 5 grams of total fat per serving, a good portion of which comes from oil.
Yes, Baked Cheetos have 50% less fat than regular Cheetos—but still, about 1/3 of the calories in Baked Cheetos come from fat.
- What kind of oil is in Baked Cheetos? Baked Cheetos contain vegetable oil. The ingredients list specifies that it could have canola oil, corn oil, and/or sunflower oil.
- What kind of fat is in Baked Cheetos? Baked Cheetos have both saturated and unsaturated fat. Most of the fat is unsaturated, with about 2.5g of polyunsaturated, 1.5g of monounsaturated, and 1g of saturated fat per serving.
4. Are Baked Cheetos High in Sodium?
Baked Cheetos have about 240mg of sodium per serving of 34 pieces. That’s about the same sodium content as Goldfish or Cheez-Its. When comparing hot snacks, Baked Flamin’ Hot Cheetos have 80% less sodium than Takis. A low-sodium flavor of Baked Cheetos is not available.
Here’s a table showing the sodium content of Baked Cheetos, compared to other snacks:
|Baked Crunchy Cheese Cheetos||34 pieces (28g)||240mg|
|Baked Flamin’ Hot Cheetos||34 pieces (28g)||230mg|
|Takis||12 pieces (28g)||420mg|
|Cheez-It||27 crackers (30g)||230mg|
|Goldfish||55 pieces (30g)||230mg|
|Wheat Thins||16 pieces (31g)||200mg|
|Triscuits||6 crackers (28g)||160mg|
As you can see, most of these snacks are pretty similar when it comes to sodium. But Takis are extra high in sodium. So if you’re looking for a hot snack with lower sodium, Baked Hot Flamin’ Cheetos look good in comparison.
Eating too much sodium increases your risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. So, be mindful of how your sodium content can add up while eating many servings of snacks.
The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends limiting your sodium intake to 2,300mg per day, which is about 10 servings of Baked Cheetos. However, the AHA is “moving toward an ideal limit” of 1,500mg per day, which is only about 6 servings of Baked Cheetos.
5. Are the Artificial Colors in Baked Cheetos Safe?
Baked Cheetos has artificial colors like Yellow 6, Yellow 6 Lake, Red 40 Lake, and Yellow 5. Research suggests that artificial colors cause hyperactivity and behavioral issues in some children. There are also concerns about possible carcinogens in the artificial colors in Baked Cheetos.
I’ve made separate posts about each of these artificial colors before. But here are some of the specific health concerns people have:
- Yellow 6 (and Yellow 6 Lake): Yellow 6 often has known carcinogenic contaminants, including benzidine and 4-amino-biphenyl. However, these contaminants have only been documented at low levels, so it shouldn’t cause problems. There were also animal trials where Yellow 6 resulted in kidney/adrenal tumors—but this result is disputed. (source, source)
- Red 40 Lake: Red 40 has small amounts of benzidene, which is a known carcinogen. It’s legally allowed because the amount is small enough to have no presumed effect. The EU requires foods with Red 40 to have a warning label saying it “may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children.”
- Yellow 5: A 2015 study found that Yellow 5 caused DNA damage in human white blood cells that it was exposed to. It is possible that this DNA damage could lead to tumor formation if it were to happen in amounts that could not be repaired.
All of these artificial colors are still being tested on animals to determine their safety. The most established risk is hyperactivity in kids. Some governments around the world have taken steps to add warnings or ban some of these dyes.
It’s actually hard to find good credible sources on which of these dyes are banned in which countries. There seems to be some misinformation online about this.
I found the most credible references to Yellow 6 being banned in Japan and several European countries. (Yellow 6 is found in both flavors of Baked Cheetos.)
Personally, I wouldn’t feel comfortable eating large amounts of these artificial colors on a regular basis. An occasional snack might be fine—but why take the risk of putting it in your body every day?
[See more below: Do Baked Cheetos Cause Cancer?]
6. Are Baked Cheetos Good for Weight Loss?
Baked Cheetos are not the best food for weight loss, as they contain multiple high-calorie ingredients like vegetable oil and cheese. The high sodium content of Baked Cheetos also makes them tempting to over-eat. However, they can potentially be eaten in moderation on a weight loss diet.
One of the most important principles for weight loss is calorie density. Foods with low calorie density fill up your stomach with few calories. This makes it easier to eat fewer calories and be satisfied. In contrast, high calorie density foods can be easier to overeat. (source)
One of the foods with the highest calorie density is vegetable oil. Refined flours and animal products (like cheese) have a high calorie density, too. Baked Cheetos have several such ingredients, so there is a risk of overeating them.
Another thing to consider is that Baked Cheetos only have 1g or less of fiber per serving. Other snacks can help fill you up with more fiber and keep you better satisfied on a weight-loss diet.
So, can Baked Cheetos make you fat? Yes, they could potentially contribute to weight gain. But by itself, a few servings of Baked Cheetos will not ruin your weight loss diet, either. Weight loss depends on your overall diet and lifestyle.
If you’re burning more calories than you’re eating each day/week, you should lose weight. Eating Baked Cheetos or other “processed foods” on occasion will not automatically ruin your diet, as long as the overall calorie deficit is in tact.
For more help with weight loss, check out this post with 18 tips for weight loss without counting calories.
- Do Baked Flamin’ Hot Cheetos speed up your metabolism (because of being spicy)? Spicy foods like Baked Hot Cheetos can temporarily increase metabolism by about 8%. But this amount is generally considered negligible. So, eating Baked Cheetos for weight-loss is not advised.
- How many calories are in one Baked Cheeto? Each Baked Cheeto has about 4 calories.
7. Are Baked Cheetos “Processed Food”?
Baked Cheetos are considered processed food, as they contain vegetable oil, MSG, artificial colors, and only 1 gram or less of fiber per serving.
It’s widely understood today that healthy food tends to be minimally processed. When we eat food in its more natural forms, we get more nutrients and fiber than if it’s been processed into flours, flakes, syrups, or oils.
In practical terms, the easiest way to spot “processed food” is to check the ingredients list for refined oils, sugars, flours, artificial ingredients (sweeteners, colors, additives), or lots of salt. And indeed, Baked Cheetos have several of these ingredients.
It may be debate-able whether Baked Cheetos count as “ultra processed” or “junk food,” but they are clearly processed food, at least.
8. Do Baked Cheetos Cause Cancer?
Baked Cheetos are not known to cause cancer. That said, the artificial colors used in Baked Cheetos have been associated with some cancer-related concerns.
For instance, it’s been documented that Yellow 6 (found in Baked Cheetos) often has known carcinogenic contaminants, including benzidine and 4-amino-biphenyl. However, they have been documented at low levels that should not cause problems.
There were also some animal trials where Yellow 6 resulted in the formation of kidney/adrenal tumors—but this is disputed by the industry and by the FDA itself. (source, source)
There are similar cancer-related concerns with Red 40 Lake and Yellow 5, which are both found in Baked Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. See above for more info on those.
Overall, there is not strong evidence that Baked Cheetos cause cancer. Theoretically, some Baked Cheetos ingredients may increase cancer risk—but the same could be said of many, many processed foods.
9. Do Baked Hot Cheetos Burn Holes in Your Stomach?
Baked Hot Cheetos may potentially cause stomach pain, irritation, and gastritis for some people—particularly for children who eat excessive amounts. However, there is no solid evidence of Baked Hot Cheetos causing ulcers or actually “burning holes” in anyone’s stomach.
Some claims about the health risks of Hot Cheetos may be overblown on social media—don’t believe everything you read. However, there are some real potential risks, especially for children who eat Hot Cheetos, Takis, and other spicy snacks in large quantities.
Several E.R. physicians and pediatricians have been quoted saying they regularly get children coming in with stomach pain from eating Takis, Hot Cheetos, or other hot snacks. One physician mentioned seeing cases of “ulcer-related stuff” caused by the hot snacks.
One child’s hospital visit caused a media stir after she had to get her gallbladder removed. But it should be mentioned—gallbladder issues are not generally associated with consuming certain foods.
Note: All this discussion of stomach pain has to do with the “Flamin’ Hot” Cheetos flavor. If you’re eating the Crunchy Cheese flavor, none of these concerns should be an issue.
- Can Hot Cheetos put you in the hospital? Some children have reportedly gone to the hospital due to stomach pain from eating Takis or Hot Cheetos. (source)
10. Are Baked Cheetos Healthier Than Regular Cheetos?
Baked Cheetos are a little healthier than Regular Cheetos, as they have 14% fewer calories, 50% less total fat, and 33% less saturated fat. However, both snacks are highly processed, and neither is very healthy.
Here’s a table comparing the Baked Cheetos and regular Cheetos in several key nutrition areas:
|Snack||Serving Size||Calories||Total Fat||Sat. Fat||Sodium||Sugar||Fiber|
|Baked Crunchy Cheese Cheetos||34 pieces (28g)||140||5.0g||1.0g||240mg||1g||<1g|
|Crunchy Cheese Cheetos||21 pieces (28g)||160||10.0g||1.5g||250mg||<1g||<1g|
The most striking difference is the total fat. Baked Cheetos actually have only half the fat of regular Cheetos. Then again, Baked Cheetos have more carbs per serving (20g vs 15g).
So, are Baked Cheetos better than regular Cheetos? Probably, yes. But both still contain highly processed ingredients, and neither one is very healthy overall.
11. Are Baked Cheetos Vegan?
Baked Cheetos are not vegan, as they contain cheese, whey, and other milk ingredients. For more about Baked Cheetos ingredients, see the above section, “What Are Baked Cheetos Made Of?“
If you’d like to try some “cheesy” vegan “puffs,” I would recommend Hippeas. To be honest, they don’t really taste like Cheetos—but they do taste really good (in my opinion). Here you read my review or buy them on Amazon.
- Do Baked Cheetos have eggs in them? Baked Cheetos do not contain egg.
Two More Recommendations for Your Plant-Based Journey
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