Cottage cheese is a low calorie cheese with a mild flavor. However, it is highly nutritious, which means it may help with weight loss and muscle gain.

Cottage cheese is versatile and can be enjoyed in many recipes. Its popularity has grown in the last few decades, and it’s often recommended as part of a healthy diet.

It’s not only high in protein but also essential nutrients. For these reasons, it’s widely used by athletes and featured in many weight loss plans.

This article explains why cottage cheese is so good for you and includes ways to incorporate it into your diet.

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 (1).

As a result, it has a very 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, including small, medium, or large, and is 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 offered with different milk fat levels and curd sizes.

The nutritional profile of cottage cheese varies depending on the level of milk fat used, and the amount of sodium added.

A half-cup, or 113-gram (g), serving of low fat (1% milk fat) cottage cheese provides the following nutrients (2):

  • Calories: 81
  • Protein: 14 g
  • Carbs: 3 g
  • Fat: 1 g
  • Vitamin B12: 29% of the Daily Value (DV)
  • Sodium: 20% of the DV
  • Selenium: 19% of the DV
  • Riboflavin: 15% of the DV
  • Phosphorus: 13% of the DV
  • Calcium: 5% of the DV
  • Folate: 4% of the DV

It also provides less than 5% of the DV for vitamin B6, choline, zinc, and copper (2).

The carb content of cottage cheese is around 3%. It consists of lactose, a milk sugar that some people have difficulty digesting.

When eating high amounts of cottage cheese, consider buying low sodium or sodium-free varieties. A high sodium intake raises blood pressure in some people, potentially increasing the risk of heart disease (3).

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.

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 (4).

When the acidity of the milk increases, curds of casein protein separate from the whey, the liquid part of the milk (4).

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 (4).

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.

Weight loss diets often include cottage cheese, which is partly because of its high protein and low calorie content.

One 2012 study followed people who maintained a diet that included high protein foods like cottage cheese for 1 year (5).

It showed that the diet helped decrease body weight by an average of 6.2 pounds (lbs), or 2.8 kilograms (kg), in females and 3.1 lbs (1.4 kg) in males (5).

Moreover, high intakes of protein, such as the casein in cottage cheese, have been shown to help increase feelings of fullness (6, 7, 8).

In fact, cottage cheese seems to stimulate feelings of fullness to a similar extent as eggs (9).

These feelings of fullness can lead to reduced calorie intake and weight loss (10).

Also, cottage cheese offers a small amount of calcium in each serving (2).

Studies have linked calcium and other components of dairy to increased weight loss when combined with a low calorie diet (11, 12, 13, 14).

Furthermore, dietary calcium has been associated with metabolic processes that reduce fat accumulation and accelerate fat loss (15).

Summary

Cottage cheese is high in protein and contains some calcium, both of which have been associated with weight loss.

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 (16).

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. For this reason, consuming it before bed has been shown to increase metabolism and muscle synthesis overnight without affecting the breakdown of fats (17).

Due to the slow absorption of casein, some 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 (18).

However, note that there is no research to suggest that casein is more effective than other dairy-based protein supplements, such as whey, at increasing lean body mass or strength (19).

Summary

Cottage cheese is packed with casein protein. Casein is slowly absorbed, promotes muscle gain, and helps prevent muscle breakdown.

Cottage cheese has also been associated with other health benefits.

May help prevent insulin resistance

Insulin resistance can lead to the development of type 2 diabetes and heart disease (20).

Interestingly, some research shows that the consumption of dairy products may be linked to a lower risk of insulin resistance (21, 22).

Though the exact mechanism is unclear, one animal study found that calcium could regulate insulin sensitivity and reduce insulin resistance in rats fed a high fat diet (23).

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 (24, 25).

High in selenium

A half-cup (113-g) serving of cottage cheese offers 19% of the DV for selenium. This mineral has been shown to increase antioxidant protection in the blood (2, 26).

Summary

Cottage cheese can help reduce the risk of developing insulin resistance. It can also help improve bone health and provide antioxidant protection.

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 fruit 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.

Cottage cheese is a dairy product that can cause problems for some people.

Lactose intolerance

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 (27).

Moreover, cottage cheese may contain even more lactose if additional milk is added to the curd.

For these reasons, cottage cheese may not be a good choice if you have lactose intolerance.

When people with lactose intolerance eat cottage cheese, they may experience digestive problems such as bloating, gas, diarrhea, and stomach pain.

However, people with lactose intolerance may be able to tolerate different amounts of lactose. In fact, some research shows that people with lactose intolerance can tolerate up to 12 g of lactose in a single sitting (28).

Therefore, some people with lactose intolerance may be able to tolerate cottage cheese in moderation, as each half-cup (113-g) serving contains just 3.6 g of lactose (27).

Dairy allergy

In addition to lactose, cottage cheese contains casein and whey, two types of protein in cow’s milk to which some people are allergic (29).

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 have lactose intolerance. It can also cause allergic reactions in those who are allergic to dairy or milk proteins.

Cottage cheese is a curd cheese with a mild flavor and smooth texture.

It’s high in many nutrients, including protein, B vitamins, and minerals like calcium, selenium, and phosphorus.

If you’re looking to lose weight or build muscle, cottage cheese is among the most beneficial foods you can eat.

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