The health benefits of cottage cheese include weight loss, a good supply of protein, B complex vitamins, and healthy fats, as well as a reduced risk of breast cancer. Cottage cheese is also a good source of minerals such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, zinc, and selenium, which play a vital role in many of the body functions.
What is Cottage 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 curd. This curd is then pressed to squeeze out the whey or milk serum to form a big lump of curd or cheese.
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. The different types of cheese include hoop cheese, farmer cheese, pot cheese, paneer, queso blanco, and various others. Each of these cheeses is prepared with a different procedure and sometimes different ingredients are added. Thus, different kinds of cheeses have evolved with different flavors.
The process of preparing cottage cheese and commercial cheese is somewhat similar. The only difference is in the proportion of milk used to obtain the cheese.
Nutritional Value of Cottage Cheese
The nutrients found in cottage cheese (100 g) include energy (98 kcal), carbohydrates (3.38 g), fat (4.5 g), sugar (2.6 g), protein (11.12 g), vitamin A (37 ugs), and vitamin D (21 ugs). 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, bodybuilders, sprinters, and various sports enthusiasts because casein is a very slow-digesting protein and releases energy slowly. Whey protein is also a preferred type, which is a byproduct of cottage cheese. 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, which are listed below.
Prevents 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, over a period of 16 years, found that in case of premenopausal women, the level of calcium and vitamin D helped in reducing the risk of breast cancer.
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 kinds of milk. 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.
For Pregnant Women
Cottage cheese is recommended for pregnant women along with athletes due to various essential nutrients found in it. They need calcium and cottage cheese is a very good source of it. Cottage cheese also contains phosphorus, an important element found in bones, which is also recommended during pregnancy.
Rich in B-complex Vitamins
- 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 plays an important role in digestion, energy production, and cholesterol reduction.
- Folate helps in fetal development in pregnant women, producing red blood cells, and keeping the heart healthy.
Calcium is one of the major elements associated with milk and milk products such as curd or cottage cheese. 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 helps in building strong bones throughout childhood and adulthood. Eating calcium-rich foods during pregnancy and later years is helpful, especially in preventing osteoporosis and colon cancer. It also helps the nervous system in sending nerve impulses.
Maintains Blood Sugar Levels
Cottage cheese is a good source of magnesium. In the human body, most of the magnesium is concentrated in the bones. Magnesium also acts as a catalyst in promoting biochemical reactions. Thus, it 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.
Apart from other nutrients, cottage cheese contains potassium, which 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, like sodium, acts as an electrolyte, but without 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 and digestion. It is also useful for controlling diabetes, relieving stress and anxiety, curing night blindness, improving ocular health, preventing appetite loss and prostate disorder, and fighting various infections. Moreover, it acts as an antioxidant too.
Cottage cheese contains phosphorus, 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.
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. A new study suggests that a diet rich in dairy products may slightly extend lives of people diagnosed with colon cancer.
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 higher (33 mg per cup) as compared to low-fat milk (10 mg per cup) or no fat milk (4 mg per 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/Stews: Cottage cheese can be used for making stew/curries, along with meat and vegetables.
Side Effects of Cottage cheese
There are certain risks involved in eating cheese, both of the cottage and grocery varieties. Some of these are particular risks for 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 associated with unpasteurized milk, improperly cooked meat, poultry, and fish is listeriosis, which is caused by Listeria monocytogenes. This bacterium is particularly known to be risky for pregnant women and their developing fetus.