Cottage cheese appears to be finally making a strong comeback, going by the sales reported during the last decade. Maybe that’s because of its high protein and low-carb content, which has nutritionists recommending it in droves for people on low-fat and low carb diets.
As it turns out, cottage cheese has a number of incredible benefits to offer.
What are the health benefits of this delicious dairy product?
It can be used for controlling your appetite and provides many nutrients like phosphorous as well as probiotics like yogurt.
But you should know that not every cottage cheese variety is the same.
The famed Cornucopia Institute, which is known for releasing scientific reports concerning various food products for informing consumers, recently finished a comprehensive investigation about the cottage cheese sector. It ranked over a hundred types of cottage cheese on the basis of various factors.
The findings showed that the quality differed widely, depending on various factors like the usage of sugar & other additives, total processing, and method of production (organic vs conventional).
An Introduction to Cottage Cheese
A creamy, soft, and mild white cheese – cottage cheese is considered to be a fresh-variety cheese as it doesn’t need to be aged, unlike other varieties of cheese.
What Does It Taste Like? How Is It Made?
Cottage cheese is made using curd obtained from the pasteurized milk of a cow. It may contain milk fat in varying amounts – from regular to reduced-fat to non-fat.
It also comes in a variety of curd sizes, all the way from small to very large. If you’re lactose-intolerant, you can simply buy lactose-free cottage cheese as well. You can also purchase low-sodium and whipped cottage cheese varieties.
What is a healthy amount of cottage cheese for an adult to consume? Most labels consider one serving to be somewhere between ½ cup – 1 cup.
When you add various ingredients like granola or fruit, consuming just ½ cup of cottage cheese can be the same as consuming a protein-rich breakfast or a healthy, nutritious snack.
A single cup of 1% milk-fat cottage cheese (226 grams) has around:
- 163 cal
- 1 gram carbs
- 28 grams protein
- 3 grams fat
- 303 mg phosphorus (30% DV)
- 1 mg folate (7% DV)
- 2 mg Vitamin B6 (8% DV)
- 138 mg calcium (14% DV)
- 4 mg riboflavin (22% DV)
- 4 micrograms of Vitamin B12 (24% DV)
- 3 micrograms of selenium (29% DV)
- 303 mg phosphorus (30% DV)
Health Benefits of Cottage Cheese
What benefits do you stand to gain by consuming cottage cheese? Apart from being a protein-rich food product, it also contains a significant amount of calcium, riboflavin, selenium, and phosphorus among others.
But it is protein that takes the lead here, with each serving containing over 28 grams of protein content.
It should also be noted that the world-famous Budwig diet recommends cottage cheese very highly as well.
What’s the Budwig Diet?
In 1952, Dr. Johanna Budwig, a senior health expert working for the German administration was felicitated for her detailed research about processed foods, which showed how they had a negative impact on our health and bodies.
Her research helped countless people around the world distinguish between healthy and unhealthy foods. Her research recommended the increased consumption of cottage cheese.
She even suggested that it was possible to improve cellular health by consuming flaxseed oil, flaxseeds, and cottage cheese – a mixture of these 3 food items.
Here are a few more nutritional benefits that this delicious food product contains:
- Strengthens bones and can treat signs of osteoporosis
As we’ve stated above, cottage cheese contains high quantities of phosphorous and calcium, which helps it strengthen your bones and even protect you against osteoporosis or fractures. Some studies have shown that these 2 minerals can have great positive effects when taken together.
One serving of cottage cheese has around 138 mg calcium, thus enabling it to build bones even better than most calcium supplements.
- Contains B12
Although meat products are rich in Vitamin B12, certain dairy products have a comparable quantity of B12 in them as well. For instance, a serving of cottage cheese can give you 25% of your daily recommended Vitamin B12 intake.
We all require B12 since it is important for the proper development and functioning of the blood cells, nerves, brain, and many other parts. Excess homocysteine can have toxic effects on the body, resulting in dangerous neurological issues and heart problems.
- Can Detox Your Body While Boosting Energy Reserves
Phosphorous can help you develop healthy, strong bones. It is also useful for restoring your body’s acid levels back to normal.
Phosphorous is also the body’s second most abundant mineral. It is used by the body for getting rid of waste products. It also affects the utilization of energy by the body and minimizes post-workout muscle pain by repairing cells and tissues. It also absorbs vitamins, thus helping your body generate energy better.
Lack of ample phosphorous content in the body may cause it to become sore and weak, causing chronic fatigue and pain.
- Can Help You Achieve Your Weight Loss Goals
Cottage cheese is incredibly rich in protein and has been found by a number of research studies to be capable of helping you lose weight, provided you don’t go overboard with it.
Why is it so? It makes you feel full at a faster rate, thus helping you consume less food. It also promotes the development of muscles, thus burning excess calories faster.
Protein-rich foods help people feel full faster by suppressing their appetite and increasing the levels of hormones like cholecystokinin, GLP-1, and peptide YY. Simultaneously, it also suppresses the effects of ghrelin, which is a hunger hormone.
- Useful for Achieving Ketosis
When it comes to keto, you’re allowed to have full-fat tasty dairy products. There’s no problem with consuming healthy fats and although dairy products can be occasionally hard on the stomach, people following the keto diet will find cottage cheese to be helpful for staying on the right track.
How Does Cottage Cheese Weigh Against Yogurt and Other Cheeses?
You’re probably wondering – is Greek yogurt the better choice or should you go with cottage cheese. As a matter of fact, both of them have their own advantages, thus making it a tight comparison.
Both are protein-laden snacks, which contain high amounts of calcium as well. While low-fat yogurt contains less fat compared to cottage cheese, it also contains a higher amount of carbohydrates.
Certain low-fat options tend to contain higher levels of sugar, even going as far as 17 grams per cup if you consider versions that have added sugars and fruits.
Yogurt contains lower sodium levels topping out at 65 mg per cup whereas cottage cheese tends to contain more than 800 mg per cup.
Additionally, yogurt is also rich in probiotics content, thus making it healthier. However, it also has a tart flavor since it’s a fermented product, which might not appeal to everyone.
Higher probiotic content is good for your gut, thus helping you digest food better.
But if you’re looking for a low-calorie and protein-rich food product, cottage cheese happens to be the better option.
The BHF has stated that ingredients like brie, parmesan, cheddar, stilton, and mascarpone are extremely high, coming in at around 29 – 44 grams per 100 grams serving of yogurt whereas ricotta and cottage cheese only contain 8 grams and 4 grams of such ingredients respectively.
People trying to lower their fat consumption will find cottage cheese to be the better choice.
How Is Cottage Cheese Made
Cottage cheese happens to be an uncured, fresh, and soft curd cheese. You can curdle milk and drain the whey for making large-curd or small-curd cottage cheese.
The distinguishing factor between the two is that rennet is used for making large-curd whereas it’s not necessary for small-curd.
What’s rennet, you ask? It’s an enzyme that’s produced by ruminant mammals, which increases the speed of the curdling process significantly. It coagulates the curds as well, ensuring they do not break apart easily.
Which Are the Healthiest Options You Can Buy?
Cottage cheese can be purchased from your regular grocery store. However, here are some things you should check to make sure that it’s a high-quality product.
As stated above, the Cornucopia report also included a list of tips for helping consumers select healthy cottage cheese products & avoid unhealthy processed cottage cheese types. We’ve provided some of the best tips included in the report that can come in handy while selecting a cottage cheese product for yourself:
Organic products are always better compared to conventional variants as they don’t contain as many thickeners, gums, and additives. Organic products are also mostly made using non-GMO foodstuffs and from the milk of healthy grass-fed cows.
Cottage cheese obtained from grass-fed cows provides more nutritional benefits (which include higher amounts of conjugated linoleic acids and omega-3s) compared to the cottage cheese derived from conventional dairy cows. Organic standards mandate that the dairy cows be allowed to graze on the pasture outside and have ample time to feed naturally, thus ensuring that the products obtained from them contain no additives anywhere.
Some producers also sweeten their cottage cheese products heavily for improving its flavor, just like yogurt manufacturers. Always go through the labels. Select the variants that do not contain any artificial sweeteners or added sugars.
Thickeners used in cottage cheese products may result in acute gastrointestinal inflammatory issues in certain people. Go through the label to check for gums and additives like carrageenan. While they make the product appear ‘creamier’, they provide zero nutritional benefits.
Conventional cottage cheese products also use modified food starch/cornstarch and other ‘natural flavors.’ Petroleum-based synthetic solvents like neurotoxic hexane and propane may be added for preserving the cheese. These ingredients are made using GMOs and herbicides – therefore, your best bet would be to avoid all such products.
Regular cottage cheese products that contain additives and fruits may contain synthetic chemical residue. Flavored cottage cheese products contain added flavors and colors as well. Stick to plain and simple products. If you need toppings, you can always add them yourself.