Pineapple on pizza. French fries dunked in a milkshake. Ketchup with eggs. Just as these unconventional food pairings stir divided opinions, the mention of cottage cheese tends to evoke two distinct reactions: either an enthusiastic “yum” or an adamant “nope.” Setting aside personal tastes, cottage cheese emerges as a wholesome snack cherished by many. For those open to its possibilities, we delve into the nutritional advantages of this dairy favorite through insights from nutrition experts Kimberly Snodgrass, RDN, a representative of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and Caryn Huneke, MS, RD, CDN, CDCES, a registered dietitian associated with the Center for Weight Management at Northwell Health.
Is cottage cheese a nutritious choice?
Absolutely! According to Snodgrass, cottage cheese is an excellent selection due to its low calorie content, abundant protein, and rich B vitamin profile. She emphasizes, “It’s worth noting that the nutrients in cottage cheese can contribute to weight management, muscle development, and bone health.” Huneke echoes this sentiment, lauding cottage cheese for its affordability and versatility in boosting protein intake. Whether consumed alone, paired with fruit, integrated into recipes like pancakes, or creatively enhanced to satiate sweet or savory cravings, cottage cheese offers a range of culinary options. Imagine using it to elevate a caprese salad with tomatoes and basil, or transforming it into a high-protein cannoli dip dessert by blending in powdered sugar, almond extract, and mini chocolate chips.
Huneke further highlights cottage cheese’s potential as an optimal late-night snack. “To achieve the characteristic texture of cottage cheese, the liquid whey is strained, leaving behind solid curds,” she explains. “These curds contain casein, a slow-digesting milk protein, which positions cottage cheese as an ideal nighttime snack. It provides a steady protein supply throughout the night, facilitating muscle repair and recovery.”
What are the health benefits of cottage cheese?
In addition to the advantages mentioned above, cottage cheese may contribute to gut health. Its fermentation process, which separates the cheese curds from the liquid, can introduce beneficial bacteria known as probiotics. Snodgrass underscores the significance of probiotics in promoting digestion. To distinguish fermented cottage cheese, she recommends checking labels for the phrase “contains live and active cultures,” along with specific bacterial strains listed in the ingredients.
Cottage cheese vs. yogurt: Which is better?
Both cottage cheese and yogurt offer exceptional options for wholesome and nourishing snacks. While Snodgrass finds it challenging to declare a definitive winner, she leans slightly toward one. “Cottage cheese has a slight edge in terms of lower sugar content than yogurt. On the other hand, yogurt contains more protein per cup compared to cottage cheese,” she explains. However, the nutritional variance between the two is minimal. Huneke provides an insightful comparison, highlighting that plain Greek yogurt aligns closely with cottage cheese in terms of nutritional attributes. They share features such as lower calorie content (in 0-2% fat versions), ample protein, significant calcium, absence of added sugars, and reduced lactose content (favoring easy digestion).
Whether it’s morning, afternoon, or late at night, cottage cheese is a viable snack option to consider. Embrace its versatility and nutritional benefits to satisfy your taste buds and nourish your body.