Cottage cheese has been around for a very long time and is often known as the perfect cheese for a low-fat diet. Though it’s available in a high-fat version, the low-fat option seems to be most popular. But what is cottage cheese, and is cottage cheese nutrition good for you?
Cottage cheese is a mild, soft, creamy white cheese that’s typically considered a fresh cheese since it does not go through an aging process. So how is cottage cheese made, and what does cottage cheese taste like? It comes from the curds of pasteurized cow’s milk. It’s found with varying amounts of milk fat from non-fat to reduced-fat and regular. You can also find it in different curd sizes from small to large, and for those who need to skip the lactose, you can purchase the lactose-free version as well as whipped and low-sodium.
So what about cottage cheese nutrition? Turns out, this unique-looking dairy product has some tremendous benefits. For instance, cottage cheese nutrition can help you lose weight, detox your body and even help your body reach ketosis — and that’s not all. Let’s take a look at some of the best cottage cheese benefits for your health, along with cottage cheese nutrition facts that provide these benefits.
Is Cottage Cheese Good for You? Cottage Cheese Benefits
If you’re wondering if cottage cheese is good for you, the answer is yes. Cottage cheese nutrition includes providing protein, phosphorous, selenium, riboflavin and calcium, to name a few. Protein is the winner here with 28 grams in one cup of low-fat (1 percent) cottage cheese.
Additionally, cottage cheese is a staple of the Budwig diet. What is the Budwig diet? The German Government’s senior expert, Dr. Johanna Budwig, was noted in 1952 regarding her research of processed foods and how they negatively affect our health. Through this research, she helped others understand what to eat and what not eat. One recommendation she includes is cottage cheese. In fact, she suggests that “that the health of your cells can quickly be reversed by consuming a mixture of cottage cheese (quark), flaxseeds, and flaxseed oil.”
The following provides some of the best cottage cheese benefits that cottage cheese nutrition provides.
1. Contains B12
Even though it’s easier to get vitamin B12 in meat products, some dairy products contain a good amount of B12. Cottage cheese is one example coming in at about a quarter of the recommended daily intake of the nutrient. We need B12 — something that vegans struggle with in their diets — because it provides proper function and development of the brain, nerves, blood cells and much more.
B12 helps lower high homocysteine levels in the blood, especially when combined with folic acid and sometimes vitamin B6. This is important since too much homocysteine can become toxic in the body and cause heart problems and neurological issues. Studies are being conducted on the effects of B12 on children in Nepal with the belief that it will enhance the neurodevelopment and overall growth as well. (1, 2)
2. Builds Bones and Treats Osteoporosis
Cottage cheese is a food high in phosphorus, and when combined with calcium, it can help build strong bones. In fact, research shows that the two minerals must work together to be effective. One cup of cottage cheese contains about 138 milligrams of calcium, making cottage cheese a great choice for bone building — possibly better than supplements. (3) Studies show that when lacking in these two minerals, osteoporosis is more prevalent, especially in women. (4)
3. Helps the Body Detox While Providing Energy
Phosphorous does more than help develop strong, healthy bones. It also helps create a healthy acid level in the body. According to the University of Maryland, phosphorous is the second most abundant mineral in the body, and it’s pretty important since it helps rid the body of waste. (5)
Phosphorous also affects how the body handles energy and minimizes muscle pain after workouts by helping repair tissues and cells. It helps by absorbing B vitamins, which are key to healthy energy production. Without phosphorus, our bodies may feel weak and sore, resulting in chronic fatigue syndrome.
4. May Assist in Weight Loss
Cottage cheese nutrition contains a lot of protein. According to loads of research, protein can help you lose weight as long as you don’t overdo it. Why? It may help you feel fuller and therefore help you eat less, and it promotes muscle building, which can help with burning calories. Weight loss is important since obesity can be a risk factor for numerous health conditions, such as hypertension, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, gallstones and some cancers.
A study out of Poland looked at the effects of dietary habits modifications on weight loss in obese people. There were 30 women and 30 men who wanted to decrease body weight involved in the study, with the mean age of the women 48 and the mean of the men 51.
By cutting out certain foods and focusing on healthy proteins, both the women and men lowered their waist circumference significantly after on year of dietotherapy. HDL cholesterol levels also increased for women, while LDL, blood pressure and triglyceride levels decreased in both groups. (6)
It’s thought that this is due to protein foods helping people achieve satiety, which, in turn, reduces the appetite by increasing the hormone levels of GLP-1, peptide YY, cholecystokinin. At the same time, it helps reduce the levels of the hunger hormone, ghrelin. (7)
5. Can Help You Achieve Ketosis
Full-fat dairy products are on the YES list for a keto diet food list. What that means is that healthy fats are a good choice, and while you want to keep your dairy to a minimum since it can be hard to digest, if a keto diet is something you’re following, a full-fat cottage cheese can help.
When in ketosis, the body uses fat for energy instead of carbohydrates or glycogen. This process, originally deemed as a way to help reduce the incidence of seizures, works great for weight loss and the reduction of disease in many cases. While it may not be for everyone, and you should check with your doctor before starting on a keto diet, it has been shown to make a difference in cardiovascular health and weight loss, among other benefits. (8, 9)
Cottage Cheese Nutrition
What’s a healthy serving of cottage cheese? According to most labels, one serving is equal to one cup. If you add ingredients, such as fruit or granola, having a half cup may be perfect.
One cup (226 grams) of low-fat, 1 percent milkfat cottage cheese contains about: (10)
- 163 calories
- 6.1 grams carbohydrates
- 28 grams protein
- 2.3 grams fat
- 303 milligrams phosphorus (30 percent DV)
- 20.3 micrograms selenium (29 percent DV)
- 1.4 micrograms vitamin B12 (24 percent DV)
- 0.4 milligram riboflavin (22 percent DV)
- 138 milligrams calcium (14 percent DV)
- 0.2 milligram vitamin B6 (8 percent DV)
- 27.1 micrograms folate (7 percent DV)
- 194 milligrams potassium (6 percent DV)
- 0.9 milligram zinc (6 percent DV)
- 0.5 milligram pantothenic acid (5 percent DV)
Cottage Cheese Nutrition vs. Greek Yogurt Nutrition: Which is healthier?
You may be wondering which is healthier: cottage cheese or Greek yogurt? Well, there are pros for both, making it a close race.
Cottage cheese is higher in calories, but it’s also higher in protein. Low-fat yogurt takes the claim for having a bit less fat than cottage cheese, and both cottage cheese and Greek yogurt yield about the same in terms of carbs. However, read the label if keeping an eye on carbohydrates is your thing.
Some regular low-fat yogurt options contain a lot of sugar, coming in around 17 grams per cup, especially the versions with added fruits and sugars. Sodium is lower in the Greek yogurt than cottage cheese, which contains over 800 milligrams per cup whereas Greek yogurt hits at about 65.
Overall, the one advantage yogurt has over cottage cheese is the probiotics. We know that probiotics foster a healthy gut. This characteristic may make yogurt easier to digest for some people. However, some cottage cheese contains probiotics too. (11, 12)
Cottage Cheese Nutrition vs. Other Cheese
Cottage cheese is a winner when it comes to healthy options. According to the British Heart Foundation, mascarpone, stilton, cheddar, parmesan and brie are high in grams of fat per 100-gram serving, ranging from 29–44 rams with mascarpone at the top of that number. Conversely, cottage cheese nutrition contains four grams, while ricotta contains eight. So if watching your fat consumption is important, leaning toward cottage cheese will make a difference. (13)
How to Make Cottage Cheese and Where to Find It
You can purchase cottage cheese at most any grocery store. Always read the labels, and go for the versions that don’t have added sugars. As far as taste, it’s very mild, which makes it a great choice to blend with other foods. You can add it to lasagne or nut butters, such as almond butter or sunflower seed butter, to make a delicious spread.
Did you know that you can make cottage cheese right at home? You can. Try the following cottage cheese recipe:
- 1 gallon pasteurized organic skim milk
- 3/4 cup white vinegar
- 1 ¼ teaspoons kosher salt
- ½ cup organic heavy cream
- Pour the milk into a large saucepan and place over medium heat on the stove. Heat to 120 degrees F. You can check this using a food safe thermometer.
- Remove from heat and slowly pour in the vinegar. Gently stir for about 2 minutes. The curd will begin to separate from the whey. Cover with a lid, and let it sit at room temperature for approximately a half hour.
- Now, pour the milk mixture into a colander lined with a cheese cloth. Let it drain for 5–6 minutes. Rinse under cold water by gathering the edges of the cloth first. Do this for 3–5 minutes until the curd is completely cooled. Make sure you gently squeeze and move the mixture while within the cloth during this cooling process.
- Now that it has cooled, squeeze the cloth as dry as possible and transfer the mixture to a medium mixing bowl. Add the salt and stir. Break up the curd into smaller pieces as you stir.
- When you’re ready to serve, stir in the heavy cream, but not until then. Otherwise, store in a container with a lid, and place in the refrigerator.
You can try the following cottage cheese recipes as well:
Here are some more ways to incorporate cottage cheese into your diet:
- Pancakes or waffles: Mix it into the batter as a substitute for milk.
- Lasagna: Use cottage cheese instead of ricotta cheese or half and half.
- Salads: Top your favorite salads for added protein.
- Fruit: Mix it with berries, bananas or grilled peaches.
- Granola: Top it with granola and drizzle with honey.
- Sour cream: Cottage cheese makes a great sour cream substitute.
- Smoothies: Blend it with some milk and fruits for a fruit smoothie.
- Baked goods: Use it in your muffins, cakes and bread recipes.
- Scrambled eggs: Add to your eggs for extra creaminess.
- Nut butter: Mix it with almond butter, then spread onto celery with raisins.
- Salsa: Add it to salsa as a dip or baked potato topping.
- Toast: Serve it on toast. The nut butter blend goes well here too.
- Pumpkin: Mix it with organic smashed or roasted pumpkin, and top it off with a few nuts.
Cottage Cheese History/Interesting Facts
Though the history you may know involves a children’s nursery rhyme and a character with the name of Little Miss Muffet, cottage cheese goes back as far as Ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. The term itself originated from cheese made by early American settlers in their small dwellings, or cottages, in the 1830s right on the stove.
To define it again, cottage cheese is a soft, fresh curd cheese that’s uncured. By curdling milk and draining the whey, you end up with either small-curd or large-curd cottage cheese. What distinguishes them is that small-curd is made without rennet and the large-curd is made with rennet. What is rennet? Rennet is an enzyme produced in the stomach of ruminant mammals that’s added to speed up the curdling. It also helps to coagulate the curds so that they don’t break apart.
Precautions with Cottage Cheese Nutrition
Cottage cheese can be great, but there are a few things you should know: (14)
- Cottage cheese may cause kidney problems. This can happen if you consume too much protein. Since cottage cheese is high in protein, consider your daily intake to help find the balance your body needs.
- It may cause problems if you are lactose intolerant. Issues include diarrhea, bloating, cramps, gas and an upset stomach. Lactose intolerance ultimately makes digesting dairy products a pretty big challenge for some. While your doctor can help, you may need to avoid dairy altogether. You can find lactose-free versions in the grocery store.
- It may cause allergic reactions. If you experience hives, itching, swelling and/or breathing trouble, make sure to stop eating it immediately and contact your doctor.
- It may raise your blood pressure. If blood pressure is a problem for you, beware. Cottage cheese has a good bit of salt. Make your own to keep that in check.
Final Thoughts on Cottage Cheese Nutrition
If you don’t suffer from any of the symptoms noted above, cottage cheese may be great for you. It works well with a keto diet, provides a vegetarian protein option and the phosphorous content is great. As always, pay attention to what you buy since there are plenty of options that have a lot of additives and sugar. Make your own, and make sure to read labels when purchasing from the grocery store.
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