The health benefits of cottage cheese include weight loss, a good supply of protein, B complex vitamins and healthy fats, and a reduced risk of breast cancer. Cottage cheese is also a good source of various minerals such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorous, zinc, and selenium which all play vital roles in many of the body functions.
Cheese is a milk product that is made in a number of different ways and can be purchased in different forms depending on the milk and fat content. Some of the different types of cheese include hoop cheese, farmer cheese, pot cheese, paneer, queso blanco, and a number of others. Each of these cheeses is prepared with different procedure and sometimes different ingredients are added. Thus, different kinds of cheeses have evolved with different flavors.
The process to prepare cottage cheese and commercial cheese is somewhat similar. The only difference is in the size and proportions of milk which is used to obtain the cheese. Cottage cheese is prepared by boiling and curdling milk with the help of acidic substances such as lime or vinegar. As the milk boils, it starts to curdle, forming lumps of curds. These curds are then pressed to squeeze out the whey or milk serum to form a big lump of curd or cheese.
Nutritional Value of Cottage Cheese
The nutrients found in cottage cheese (100 g) include energy (98 kcal), carbohydrates (3.38g), fat (4.5 g), sugar (2.6 g), protein (11.12 g), vitamin A (37 ug), and vitamin D (21 ug). Some trace elements found in cottage cheese include calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, sodium, selenium, and zinc.
Cottage cheese is formed when casein, a milk protein, reacts with acid and coagulates. This is one of the favorite proteins for athletes, body builders, sprinters, and various sports enthusiasts because casein is a very slow-digesting protein and releases energy slowly. There is another protein, whey protein, which is a byproduct of cottage cheese preparation. Whey is very healthy and popular amongst sports and fitness enthusiasts. It can be stored in a cool place to be used at a later time.
Health Benefits of Cottage Cheese
Cottage cheese provides many health benefits, including a high protein content, as well as significant calcium, phosphorus, and potassium contents, and it can be used for weight management.
Reduced Risk of Breast Cancer: The calcium and vitamin D found in dairy products, especially in cottage cheese, reduces the risk of breast cancer. Research conducted at the Harvard School of Public Health by Shin et al. found that in case of premenopausal women, the level of calcium and vitamin D actually helped in reducing the risk of breast cancer. This particular study was conducted over a period of 16 years.
Rich in Protein: One of the biggest benefits of cottage cheese is the high amount of casein protein found in it. It is believed that cow’s milk contains the highest amount of casein protein among various milks. The amount of protein contained in cottage cheese is ideal for vegetarians in supplying them with the required amount of daily protein. Cottage cheese does not require any amount of cooking and it can be consumed directly.
Best Foods for Pregnant Women: Cottage cheese is recommended for pregnant women along with athletes due to various essential nutrients found in it. For example, pregnant women need calcium and cottage cheese is a very good source for it. Cottage cheese also contains phosphorus, which is an important element found in bones that is also recommended during pregnancy.
Rich Source of B-Complex Vitamins: B-complex vitamins found in cottage cheese are helpful in various metabolic activities in our bodies. Some of them include vitamin B12, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, thiamin, niacin, and folate.
-Vitamin B12 is needed for proper brain functioning and helps in absorbing iron.
-Riboflavin helps in converting carbohydrates into energy.
-Pantothenic Acid acts as a synthesizer that helps in forming proteins, fats, carbohydrates, and amino acids in our body.
-Thiamin helps in converting sugars into energy in the pyruvate dehydrogenase system.
-Niacin, on the other hand plays an important role in digestion, energy production, and cholesterol reduction.
-Folate helps in fetal development in pregnant women, helps in producing red blood cells and keeps the heart healthy.
Strengthens Bones: Calcium is one of the major elements associated with milk and their products. Some of the benefits of calcium-rich foods include bone strengthening and weight loss. The amount of calcium in cottage cheese is 8% of the daily recommended value. Calcium, found in milk and milk products such as curd or cottage cheese, helps in building strong bones throughout childhood and adulthood. Eating calcium-rich foods during pregnancy and later years is helpful, especially in osteoporosis and colon cancer. It also helps the nervous system in sending nerve impulse and controls weight gain and heart disease. These are just a few of the benefits of eating calcium-rich foods like cottage cheese.
Heart-Friendly and Maintains Blood Sugar Levels: Cottage cheese is a good source of magnesium. In the human body, most of the magnesium is concentrated in our bones. Magnesium also acts as a catalyst, promotes biochemical reactions, activates various enzymes in the body, maintains muscle and nerve functioning, and supports the immune system. It helps in maintaining blood sugar levels and prevents heart attacks, constipation, psychiatric disorders, migraine, and collagen.
Prevents Strokes and Controls Anxiety: Apart from other nutrients, cottage cheese contains potassium. Potassium acts as a fluid-balancing element in the body and is an important component in neural activities of the muscle and brain. It also relieves muscle cramps. Intake of potassium on a regular basis prevents the risk of getting brain stroke, since it lowers blood pressure and the contraction of vessels. It is also helpful in decreasing stress levels and anxiety. Potassium, along with sodium, act as electrolytes, but potassium does not have the side effects of sodium such as increased blood pressure and cardiovascular stress.
Improves Biological Functions: Zinc found in cottage cheese is about 4% of the daily recommended value. In the human body, it is found in the brain, muscles, bones, kidneys, liver, prostate, and eyes. It helps in the metabolism of DNA and RNA. Zinc is one of the trace elements whose presence in our body helps in improving the immune system, digestion, diabetes control, fights stress and anxiety, cures night blindness, improves ocular health, prevents appetite loss, prevents prostate disorder, fights various infections and also acts as an antioxidant.
Improves Digestion: Cottage cheese contains phosphorous, which plays a major role in the formation of DNA and RNA. It is a major component in forming bones along with calcium. Phosphates also help in digestion, excretion, and in the production and extraction of energy in the cells.
Antioxidant Properties: Selenium is a trace element found in cottage cheese. It is required in very small quantities, not more than 50 mcg to 70 mcg in adults. Selenium is useful as an antioxidant that protects cells and DNA from damage. It is also believed that an optimum intake of selenium-rich foods reduces the risk of prostate cancer. New study suggests that a diet rich in dairy products may slightly extend lives of people diagnosed with colon cancer.
A Few Things to Consider:
There are certain risks involved in eating cheese, both of the cottage and grocery varieties. Some of these are particular risks for those people suffering from diabetes and hypertension (high blood pressure).
Higher Levels of Sodium: Salt is a major ingredient used at various stages of cheese and yogurt preparation. As per the research conducted by Demott, Hitchcock, and Sanders at the University of Tennessee, an average of 3.7 mg/g to 4.5 mg/g of sodium chloride is found in various dairy preparations, including cheese. The findings are almost double the federal government’s approved salt content level (2.7 mg/g).
Bacterial Contamination: One may experience bacterial contamination by eating cottage cheese or any other dairy product, if the milk has not been pasteurized properly. One of the most common diseases that is associated with unpasteurized milk, improperly cooked meat, poultry, and fish is listeriosis, which is caused by Listeria monocytogenes. This bacteria is particularly known to be risky for pregnant women and their developing fetus.
Cholesterol Levels in Cottage Cheese: The level of cholesterol in cottage cheese depends upon the type of milk used for preparing it. If whole milk is used for cheese preparation, the cholesterol content would be as high (33 mg per 1cup) as compared to low fat milk (10 mg per 1 cup) or no fat milk (4 mg per 1 cup). So, if you are health conscious, use low fat versions of cottage cheese to avoid extra fat intake and excessive cholesterol.
Quick Serving Tips
Salad– Add chopped/grated cottage cheese to salads such as green salads and tuna salads.
Curries/Stew– Cottage cheese can be used for making stew/curries, along with meat and vegetables.