10 Health Benefits of Cottage Cheese – High Protein and Vitamin-Rich
Have you ever wondered why cottage cheese is considered a unique dairy product? The answer comes easy, because cottage cheese is rich in protein and low in carbohydrates and fat, unlike other forms of dairy. It is for this reason why many athletes and fitness enthusiasts incorporate cottage cheese into their healthy diets. For those who want to continue consuming dairy for its calcium, potassium, vitamin D and protein, cottage cheese is a lower-calorie option appropriate for dieters or for those who are avoiding excessive intake of dietary fat for performance purposes. (1)
Nutritional Content of Cottage Cheese
One cup (226g) of this delicious dairy product contains: calories 163, 28g of protein, 6.1g carbs, 2.3g fat, 30% phosphorus reference daily intake (RDI), 30% sodium RDI, 29% selenium RDI, 24% vitamin B12 RDI, 22% riboflavin RDI, 14% calcium RDI, and 7% folate RDI.
It also contains vitamins B1, B3, B6, traces of vitamins A and D as well as essential minerals like iron, magnesium, zinc, potassium and copper. Additionally, nutritionists found that a serving of one cup of cottage cheese contains more than 70% protein, which accounts for most of the calories found in it. (2, 3)
10 Health Benefits of Cottage Cheese
1. Cottage cheese may reduce your risk of developing breast cancer.
Due to its calcium and vitamin D high content, cottage cheese can help reduce the risk of breast cancer, researchers say. According to a study conducted by Shin et al. at the Harvard School of Public Health, the level of calcium and vitamin D found in cottage cheese contributed to reducing the risk of breast cancer in premenopausal women over a period of 16 years. (4)
2. Cottage cheese is a good source of protein.
The main type of protein found in cottage cheese is casein. Nutritionists and naturopaths believe that cow’s milk contains the highest amount of casein. (5) Its protein rich content is what makes it the ideal food for vegetarians, supplying the ideal amount of protein that the body needs to function properly. Additionally, cottage cheese does not require any cooking; it can be consumed as such.
3. Cottage cheese is one of the best foods for pregnant women.
A highly nutritious food, cottage cheese is equally recommended to athletes, sports enthusiasts and pregnant women due to the essential nutrients it abounds in. Specifically, pregnant women need calcium, and what’s great about cottage cheese is it is considered a safe choice as long as it is pasteurized. (6) Furthermore, this dairy product also contains phosphorus, which is good for bone development and highly recommended during pregnancy.
4. Cottage cheese is rich in B-complex vitamins.
B-complex vitamins are known to promote metabolism and support the metabolic functions. Some of the B vitamins contained in cottage cheese are B12, riboflavin, thiamin, folate niacin and pantothenic acid.
Vitamin B12 is responsible for proper brain function and aids in the absorption of iron. Riboflavin supports the energy conversion of carbohydrates. Pantothenic acid has a synthesizing action by promoting formation of carbohydrates, fats, proteins and amino acids. Thiamin aids in energy conversion via the pyruvate dehydrogenase system. Niacin in turn, plays a key role in digestion, helping produce energy and lowering cholesterol levels. Lastly, folate supports health development of the fetus in pregnant women, along with boosting production of red blood cells, and promoting cardiovascular health. (7)
5. Cottage cheese promotes bone health.
Calcium is one of the essential minerals generally associated with dairy products. Among the major benefits that calcium-rich foods have noteworthy are bone strengthening and weight loss. Cottage cheese contains approximately 8% of the daily-recommended calcium intake for the average adult. The amount of calcium contained in milk and its derived products like cottage cheese or curd, helps build strong bones throughout childhood and adulthood.
Consuming calcium-rich foods while pregnant as well as after pregnancy prevents the risk of developing colon cancer and osteoporosis later in life. It also assists the nervous system in sending impulses and keeps weight gain in check while preventing heart disease. (8, 9)
6. Cottage cheese promotes cardiovascular health and helps control blood sugar levels.
Due to its magnesium-rich content, cottage cheese looks after the heart and helps keep blood sugar levels in check. It is known that magnesium is concentrated mostly in our bone tissue. However, this mineral also has a catalytic action by stimulating biochemical reactions and activating multiple enzymes in the body. By doing so it maintains muscle and supports nerve functions while giving the immune system a boost. Additionally, it maintains blood sugar levels, prevents the risk of heart attack, psychiatric disorders, collagen, migraine and constipation.
7. Cottage cheese helps protect against strokes.
One of the key nutrients plentifully found in cottage cheese is potassium. Potassium is known to help balance fluids in the human body while being an essential element in neural activities of the muscle and brain. This mineral can also offset muscle cramps. (10)
Regular intake of potassium prevents stroke given that it lowers blood pressure and reduces the contraction of blood vessels. Furthermore, it fights stress. Both potassium and sodium (another mineral in cottage cheese) act as electrolytes. However, potassium has a milder action than sodium, which tends to raise blood pressure, thereby increasing cardiovascular stress.
8. Cottage cheese enhances biological functions.
Cottage cheese contains approximately 4% of the zinc daily recommended intake. In the human body, this mineral is concentrated in the brain, muscles, bones, kidneys, eyes, prostate, and liver. Zinc supports DNA and RNA metabolism while improving the immune system function and digestion. (11) It is also known to manage diabetes and reduce stress levels and anxiety. This nutrient also relieves night blindness, boosts ocular health, prevents loss of appetite and prostate disorder, and offsets infections while having an antioxidative action.
9. Cottage cheese is an effective antioxidant.
Selenium is an element found in trace amounts in cottage cheese. The recommended daily intake ranges between 50 to 70mcg in adults. It acts as an antioxidant protecting cells and DNA from any harm. Experts believe that intake of selenium-rich foods lowers prostate cancer risk. (12) According to a recent study, a diet rich in dairy products is likely to slightly improve the life expectancy of people suffering from colon cancer.
10. Cottage cheese improves digestion.
The phosphorus in cottage cheese plays a significant part in the formation of DNA and RNA. Additionally, it is known to help form bone tissue along with calcium. Phosphates are derived from phosphorus and support digestion while promoting excretion and aiding in the production and energy extraction in the cells. (13)
How to Prepare Cottage Cheese
Cottage cheese is unique type of cheese, which can be easily prepared by anyone at home. (14)
- With rennet: 1 quart whole milk, 4 drops of liquid rennet, half a teaspoon of salt and 6 tablespoons of heavy cream or half and half.
- With vinegar: 1 gallon or 3.8 L of pasteurized skimmed milk, ¾ cup of white vinegar, half a teaspoon of salt and one half cup of heavy cream or half and half.
- With lemon juice: 1 quart whole milk, half a teaspoon of citric acid or lemon juice, half a teaspoon of salt, 6 tablespoons of heavy cream or half and half.
Although it is highly nutritious, when adding cottage cheese to your diet on a regular basis you should be mindful of its sodium content. According to a research conducted by Demott Hitchcock and Sanders from the University of Tennessee, dairy products, including cheese contain an average of 3.7mg/g to 4.5mg/g of sodium chloride, which is almost a double than the level of salt approved by the federal government – 2.7mg/g.
If the milk cottage cheese is made of has not been properly pasteurized, you may experience bacterial contamination. The most common ailment associated with unpasteurized milk, poultry, fish and improperly cooked meat is listeriosis. Listeriosis is caused by Listeria monocytogenes, which is a type of bacteria particularly harmful to pregnant women and fetal development.
The level of cholesterol contained in cottage cheese depends on the type of milk that is used to prepare it. Nutritionists have established that the cholesterol level in cottage cheese can be as high as 33mg in 1 cup compared to a low fat type of milk containing only 10mg of cholesterol in 1 cup or no fat milk (4mg in 1 cup). Therefore, to avoid increasing your blood cholesterol levels it is best to use low fat or no fat milk to prepare cottage cheese.
Cottage cheese is a highly nutritious dairy product that contains a wide variety of macronutrients and micronutrients. If you are not allergic to lactose and carefully consider the precautions mentioned above, regular consumption of this dairy product can offer many health benefits.