Ask Leah! The Ingles Dietitian

Sponsored: What is the function of cellulose in food?

ingles dietitianQUESTION: I noticed that CELLULOSE is listed as an ingredient in my shredded cheese. What is that? 

ANSWER: Cellulose is part of the cell wall of all plants and is classified as a carbohydrate. Humans cannot digest cellulose so it’s is known as an indigestible or insoluble fiber. If you’ve ever taken a fiber supplement you might have seen cellulose listed as an ingredient.


In food products cellulose has a variety of functions. 

  • To lower calories - Because it is indigestible you might find cellulose in reduced calorie or reduced carbohydrate products.  
  • Thickener - Cellulose can be used to thicken foods because it allows air to be added to foods so they are creamier. It can sometimes be found in whipped items and ice cream. 
  • Anti-caking – Because cellulose absorbs moisture, it is sometimes used in products like shredded cheese or drink mixes so they don’t clump.  


Leah McGrath, RDN, LDN

Ingles Markets Corporate Dietitian

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