Cottage cheese is a low-calorie cheese with a mild flavor.
Its popularity has grown in the last few decades, and it’s often recommended as part of a healthy diet.
Cottage cheese is not only high in protein but also in essential nutrients.
For these reasons, it’s widely used by athletes and in weight loss plans.
This article explains why cottage cheese is so good for you and includes ways to incorporate it into your diet.
- What it is
- Weight loss
- Muscle gain
- Other benefits
- Ways to eat it
- Potential digestive issues
What is cottage cheese?
Cottage cheese is soft, white, and creamy. It’s considered a fresh cheese, so it does not undergo an aging or ripening process to develop flavor.
As a result, it has a mild flavor compared with aged cheeses.
Cottage cheese is made from the curds of various levels of pasteurized cow’s milk, including nonfat, reduced fat, or regular milk.
It’s also offered in different curd sizes, usually small, medium, or large.
Moreover, it’s available in creamed, whipped, lactose-free, reduced sodium, or sodium-free varieties.
You can enjoy this versatile cheese by itself or as an ingredient in recipes.
Summary: Cottage cheese is a soft, white cheese with a mild flavor. It’s a fresh cheese with different milk fat levels and curd sizes.
Cottage cheese is packed with nutrients
The nutritional profile of cottage cheese varies depending on the level of milk fat used, and the amount of sodium added.
One cup (226 grams) of low fat (1% milk fat) cottage cheese provides the following:
- Calories: 163
- Protein: 28 grams
- Carbs: 6.2 grams
- Fat: 2.3 grams
- Phosphorus: 24% of the recommended daily intake
- Sodium: 30% of the recommended daily intake
- Selenium: 37% of the recommended daily intake
- Vitamin B12: 59% of the recommended daily intake
- Riboflavin: 29% of the recommended daily intake
- Calcium: 11% of the recommended daily intake
- Folate: 7% of the recommended daily intake
It also has decent amounts of vitamin B6, choline, zinc, and copper.
The carb content of cottage cheese is around 3%. It consists of lactose, a milk sugar to which some people are intolerant.
Consider buying low sodium or sodium-free varieties when eating high amounts of cottage cheese. A high sodium intake raises blood pressure in some people, potentially increasing the risk of heart disease.
Notably, protein accounts for over 70% of the calories in cottage cheese.
Summary: Cottage cheese is an excellent source of protein and contains relatively few calories. It’s also packed with many nutrients, such as B vitamins, calcium, phosphorus, and selenium.
How cottage cheese is made
Making cottage cheese is a simple process. You can even make it at home.
The process starts with curdling milk. This is done by adding an acidic substance, such as lime juice or vinegar to warm milk.
When the acidity of the milk increases, curds of casein protein separate from the whey, the liquid part of the milk.
Once the curd has solidified, it’s cut into pieces and cooked until more moisture is released. It’s then washed to remove the acidity and drained to remove the moisture.
The result is a sweeter curd that can be easily crumbled. Finally, ingredients can be added to flavor the finished product, including cream, salt, herbs, and spices.
Summary: Cottage cheese is made by adding an acid to milk, which causes the milk to curdle. Then, the curd is drained and crumbled to make the final product.
Cottage cheese can help you lose weight
Weight loss diets often include cottage cheese.
This is partly because of its high protein and low-calorie content.
Suggested read: 6 science-based health benefits of Greek yogurt
One study followed people who maintained a diet that included high protein foods like cottage cheese for one year.
It showed that the diet helped decrease body weight by an average of 6.2 pounds (2.8 kg) in women and 3.1 pounds (1.4 kg) in men.
Moreover, high intakes of protein, such as the casein in cottage cheese, have been shown to help increase feelings of fullness.
Cottage cheese seems to stimulate feelings of fullness to a similar extent as eggs.
These feelings of fullness can lead to reduced calorie intake and weight loss.
Also, cottage cheese offers reasonable amounts of calcium.
Studies have linked calcium and other components of dairy to reduced weight and more manageable weight maintenance, especially when combined with exercise.
Furthermore, dietary calcium has been associated with metabolic processes that reduce fat accumulation and accelerate fat loss.
Summary: Cottage cheese is high in protein and calcium, both of which have been associated with weight loss.
Cottage cheese and muscle gain
Cottage cheese is popular among athletes and people who exercise.
Because of its high protein content, it’s a great food to incorporate into your diet if you want to build muscle mass.
When combined with resistance training, a diet including high protein foods can help you increase muscle mass.
Also, the proteins in cottage cheese are particularly effective at helping you build muscle.
Casein accounts for 80% of its protein content and is slowly absorbed. It’s just as effective as whey protein at building muscle — and even better at inhibiting muscle breakdown due to its slower absorption.
Casein also promotes the prolonged absorption of amino acids, which has been linked to increased muscle-building capacity.
Many bodybuilders like to eat cottage cheese before bed. This leads to a sustained release of amino acids into the blood and muscles during the night, which may reduce muscle breakdown.
Suggested read: Feta cheese: Good or bad?
Summary: Cottage cheese is packed with casein protein. Casein is slowly absorbed, promotes muscle gain, and helps prevent muscle breakdown.
Other benefits of cottage cheese
Cottage cheese has also been associated with other health benefits.
Cottage cheese may help prevent insulin resistance
Insulin resistance can lead to the development of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
However, the calcium in dairy products is believed to reduce insulin resistance.
One study suggested that eating dairy products may lower the risk of insulin resistance by 21%.
Cottage cheese can promote bone strength
In addition to calcium, cottage cheese is a good source of phosphorus and protein. These nutrients have consistently been linked to improved bone health.
Cottage cheese is high in selenium
A 1-cup (226-gram) serving of cottage cheese offers 37% of the recommended daily intake for selenium. This mineral has been shown to increase antioxidant protection in the blood.
Summary: Cottage cheese can help reduce insulin resistance and heart disease risk. It can also help improve bone health and provide antioxidant protection.
How to incorporate cottage cheese into your diet
Cottage cheese’s mild flavor and soft texture make it easy to include in your meals and recipes.
Here are some creative ways to eat cottage cheese:
- Pancakes or waffles. Mix it into the batter as a substitute for milk.
- Salads. Add it to your favorite salads for extra protein.
- Fruit. Mix it with fruits like berries, sliced bananas, peach slices, mandarin wedges, and melon chunks.
- Granola. Top it with granola and drizzle it with honey.
- Sour cream substitute. It works well as a sour cream substitution.
- Dipping sauces. Mix it into dipping sauces as a substitute for milk.
- Smoothies. Blend it with some milk and fruits for a fruit smoothie.
- Toast. It makes a creamy, protein-rich spread.
- Baked goods. Bake it into muffins, cakes, bread, or dinner rolls.
- Mayo substitute. Spread it on sandwiches or use it in recipes.
- Scrambled eggs. It’ll give your eggs an extra creamy texture.
- Lasagna. Use it as a substitute for ricotta cheese.
Summary: Cottage cheese is a versatile ingredient that you can incorporate into many different meals and recipes.
It can cause problems for people who are intolerant to dairy
Cottage cheese is a dairy product that can cause some people problems.
The lactose content of cheese decreases as cheese ages.
Because cottage cheese is a fresh, unripened cheese, it contains more lactose than aged cheeses like Parmesan, Cheddar, or Swiss.
Moreover, cottage cheese may contain even more lactose if additional milk is added to the curd.
For these reasons, cottage cheese is not a good choice if you’re lactose intolerant.
When people with lactose intolerance eat cottage cheese, they may experience digestive problems, such as bloating, gas, diarrhea, and stomach pain.
In addition to lactose, cottage cheese contains casein and whey, two types of protein in cow’s milk to which some people are allergic.
If you have experienced an allergic reaction to any dairy product, you may not be able to tolerate cottage cheese.
Summary: Cottage cheese can cause digestive problems if you’re lactose intolerant. It can also cause allergic reactions in those allergic to dairy or milk proteins.
Cottage cheese is a curd cheese with a mild flavor and smooth texture.
It contains many nutrients, including protein, B vitamins, and minerals like calcium, selenium, and phosphorus.
Cottage cheese is among the most beneficial foods you can eat if you want to lose weight or build muscle.