Cottage cheese is tough to beat when it comes to its nutritional benefits. The health benefits of cottage cheese surpass many other foods, making it an ideal choice for someone seeking a nutritious snack or meal option. Some of the benefits included high protein, high calcium, low carbs, and high B vitamins. In its simplest form, cottage cheese is made from only natural ingredients of cultured milk, cream, and salt. It is a very versatile food that can be paired with many other foods or used as a substituted for some less healthy foods.
Cottage Cheese Benefits
The calories in cottage cheese vary based on the product or milkfat. In general, the calories range from about 104 for nonfat to 220 for full fat (4 percent) per one cup, with 1 percent and 2 percent coming in between. If you have ever measured out one cup of cottage cheese, you know that this is a generous serving size that will keep most people full for quite some time. Add a healthy topping like berries or peaches and you have a delicious snack that isn’t going to kill your waistline.
One of the biggest appeals to eating cottage cheese is its protein content. It has such an appeal that many people who don’t care much for cottage cheese tolerate its taste for its high protein. A 1/2 cup serving contains approximately 14 grams of protein, which is about 24 percent of the daily recommend value. This is an enormous amount of protein for a non-meat product. Additionally, cottage cheese contains casein protein, which helps with muscle growth and recovery. The slow release of casein protein in the body gradually transfers nutrients to the muscles over several hours, all while assisting with growth and recovery. Because casein is so slow to absorb into the body, it keeps the body feeling full for longer. This can assist in weight loss because a person may not have the urge to unnecessarily snack due to that full feeling.
Cottage cheese is made from milk and similarly it has a high calcium content. You will receive approximately 20% of your daily recommended calcium just by eating one cup of cottage cheese. While it is important for all people to intake adequate calcium, it is especially important for pregnant women. Cottage cheese is beneficial during pregnancy because it helps mothers reach their extra required daily calcium intake that is needed to help the baby grow and for mom to avoid weakened bones (osteoporosis) in her later years.
It seems like almost everyone is worried about carbs theses days. We hear so much about how it is important to limit carbs, but is cottage cheese a low carb food? The simple answer is yes! There are only about 4-5 grams of carb per 1/2 cup of cottage cheese. However, be sure to check the carbs on cottage cheese that come with added fruit if you are watching carbs. These can contain double or triple the carbs of plain cottage cheese because of their high sugar content.
Dairy products contain lactose, which is the main sugar in milk. Many people have trouble or inability to break down lactose. This is known as lactose intolerance or lactose sensitivity. Cottage cheese contains between 1-3 percent lactose, which is low in comparison to higher percentage foods or beverages like coffee cream or milk. Many people that are intolerant or sensitive to lactose may still be able to consume cottage cheese because it is a lower lactose dairy product.
B-12 is an important nutrient because it aids in maintaining nerve function and the blood cells. Adults are recommended to intake 2.4 mcg of B-12 per day. Cottage cheese has 1.5-1.7 mcg of B-12, providing a large portion of your daily recommendation.
Cottage cheese has approximately 33 percent of the daily recommended value of phosphorus in a one cup serving. Phosphorus works along side of calcium in helping maintain strong bones and teeth. It is also responsible as an aid for growth, preservation, and rejuvenation of all tissues and cells.
The glycemic index is utilized to judge how fast a carbohydrate can increase body blood sugar. This is beneficial to diabetics who are concerned about eating a diet that will keep their blood sugar low. Cottage cheese is a very low glycemic food meaning the body’s insulin requirement is low to process the food. Cottage cheese is an acceptable food to eat for many diabetics.
Some cottage cheese products contain live cultures similar to that of yogurt. Live cultures usually contain probiotics, which help the body with such things as boosting the immune system, easing constipation, eliminating of diarrhea, and much more. The cottage cheese label should indicate if the product has live cultures. It may take some looking because live cultures are not as common in cottage cheese as they are alternative foods like yogurt.
Cottage cheese can be used well beyond just eating it plain. It can be topped with fruit, added to eggs, mixed with peanut butter, spread on a bagel, used in lasagna or pancakes, blended in smoothies and much more. Additionally, it is acceptable to eat anytime during the day. As a bonus, it is very inexpensive so it won’t break the bank.
Cottage Cheese Disadvantages
While the health benefits of cottage cheese greatly outweigh the disadvantage, the disadvantages are still important factors to consider before regularly eating cottage cheese.
Cottage cheese is a high-sodium food with many products containing 800-900 mg of sodium per cup. This is about 35 percent of a the daily recommended value of 2,300 mg. Fortunately, there are products made with less sodium or no salt added that have significantly less sodium. However, these may not be suitable for everyone because of the taste difference from regular cottage cheese.
The USDA recommended cholesterol is 300 mg per day. Cottage cheese cholesterol can be a concern for some when eating the higher fat varieties. Cottage cheese with 2 percent milkfat has 27 mg and 4 percent milkfat has about 37 mg. If you are concerned with cholesterol, stick with low-fat (1% milkfat) or non-fat cottage cheese, which have between 4-10 mg of cholesterol.
Lactose Intolerance, Protein Intolerance & Allergies
We touched on lactose intolerance earlier so we won’t go into detail on this one. However, dairy allergies and protein intolerance are also a concern. Dairy allergies can be very serious to a point of being life-threating. Signs of a milk allergy may include vomiting, hives, itching, runny nose, diarrhea, cramps, and more unpleasant symptoms. There are also people intolerant to the two main proteins in milk called whey and casein. Protein intolerance can have similar symptoms to lactose intolerance or allergies so it may be difficult to determine which one you may have. Visit a doctor if you need to be diagnosed, consulted, or treat for one of the above problems.