Cottage cheese ingredients can be very different from brand to brand. Some products have simple ingredients like only milk, cream, and salt. While other brands can have preservatives and additives that we may be unaware of unless we read the product labels. Even if we read the label, do we really know what these ingredients are? Below we take a look at a variety of ingredients found in popular cottage cheese brands and give a short description of these ingredients.
- Cultured Milk – cultured means a bacteria (non-harmful) is added to the milk, which helps the milk last longer and can elevate the taste of cottage cheese. It also aids in the digestion process.
- Cream – the fatty part of milk that rises to the top of non-homogenized milk when left to sit for a long period of time.
- Sodium – not much to explain here. Salt is added to enhance the taste. Cottage cheese is typically high in sodium so be aware if sodium is an issue for your health.
- Guar Gum – is used as a thickening agent and helps cottage cheese maintain its texture. It comes from the guar plant seed. For most people guar gum is safe when consumed as a food additive.
- Corn Starch – another thickening product. The endosperm of corn kernels are ground up to form a corn “flour” that can be added to foods to help with binding.
- Citric Acid – is a natural acid found in some fruits and vegetables. It can also be produced from mold (Aspergillus niger). This mold is the most common producer of citric acid because it is cheaper to use than fruits or vegetables. It is used in foods as a preservative
- Locust Bean Gum (Carob Bean Gum) – yet another stabilizer and thickening agent used as an additive. It is made from carob tree seeds and has a creamy texture. The FDA has found no issues with consumption of locust bean gum, although no long term studies have been completed.
- Carrageenan – this natural ingredient comes from red seaweed or algae and is used as a thickener or stabilizer. Carrageenan can be changed into degraded carrageenan, which may cause gastrointestinal inflammation and cancer. This degraded carrageenan can be found in foods, but it is supposed to be kept at a minimum. Read more here.
- Potassium Sorbate – is a preservative that prevents molds and fungi that is made synthetically. Consuming large doses of potassium sorbate in various foods may cause diarrhea or a feeling of sickness. There is also a rare concern of allergic reaction for some. Additionally, a study found that potassium sorbate is genotoxic to the human peripheral blood lymphocytes in vitro.
- Phosphoric Acid – is a liquid that is clear, odorless and syrup-like. This additive is used as an emulsifier and stabilizer. High consumption of phosphoric acid may be linked to lower bone density (osteoporosis), kidney disease, and cardiovascular problems.
- Calcium Sulfate – is used as a stabilizer and firming agent. It is believed to be safe for consumption.
- Xanthan Gum – is another emulsifier and thickener that helps a product maintain its intended shape or texture. It is made commercially using a bacteria related process with corn, dairy, wheat, or soy that creates the xanthan gum byproduct. Xanthan Gum may cause diarrhea, gas or other similar stomach problems. Additionally, it has been known to cause migraines in some people.
- Modified Food Starch – can be made from various grains such as corn, wheat, potatoes, and more. There are several ways it is manufactured, such as chemically, enzymes, etc. It is used to thicken and stabilize foods. Modified food starch has no nutritional value, but it is not know to be harmful. However, the chemical process used to modified the starch is questioned by some.
- Maltodextrin – this is an artificial sugar typically derived from corn in the United States. Yet another thickener and stabilizer. Health concerns included increased calories, bad for the teeth, and no nutritional value.
- Vitamin A Palmitate – is usually added to dairy products to replenish the vitamins that have been removed. It essentially makes a product more nutritious; however, there has been concern with increased cardiovascular disease and cancer associated with this additive.
- Carbon Dioxide – is used to preserve taste and preserves food.
- Live Cultures or Probiotics – click here for a further explanation based on one of our previous articles.
While this is not a complete list of every ingredient found in cottage cheese, it covers many common ingredients. Clearly some products are perfectly healthy to eat, while others are questionable or maybe unacceptable to some. Our goal of this article to make readers aware that not all cottage cheese products are manufactured the same. As always, check the labels before you buy if additives or other ingredients are a concern to you since the range of ingredients vary widely. When in doubt, select a product with low or no additives.
*Please consult a medical expert if you have further questions regarding the ingredients or have health concerns. This is an educational piece only and is not intended as medical advice.*