Cottage cheese: that soft sphere of curds nestled in a half-melon on your mom’s plate, or cuddled up to some canned fruit on your grandma’s. That view of cottage cheese is just so yesterday—today’s nutritionists consider cottage cheese a protein powerhouse that you should scoop up for snacks and sub into some of your favorite recipes.
Cottage Cheese Nutrition
There’s a good reason that nutritionists like New York-based Regina Ragone call cottage cheese a health food hero. “It has all the elements that people are looking for in a food today—high in protein, low in sugar and carbs,” says Ragone. “It’s even perfect for keto followers.” When considering what kind of cottage cheese is healthiest, Ragone suggests choosing full fat or 2 percent. The no-fat version has less protein, may contain stabilizers, and won’t satisfy hunger as well. And it just tastes less rich. (One nutritional drawback to keep in mind: Cottage cheese can be a bit high in sodium. There are low-and no-salt versions, but you may find those pretty low in flavor too.)
Consider it a tasty way to build muscle: One cup of 2 percent cottage cheese has 27 grams of protein for only 195 calories. Two 2 large eggs, in comparison, have 12 grams of protein for 158 calories. “And cottage cheese keeps you feeling full, which can help you lose weight,” says Lindsey Pine, MS, RDN, registered dietitian and owner of TastyBalance Nutrition. “Plus it has plenty of vitamins and minerals, such as B12, selenium, and riboflavin.” It also helps you get your daily dose of calcium, which is not only good for your bones; it also may decrease your risk for Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Is Cottage Cheese Better for You Than Yogurt?
Cottage cheese has long taken a backseat to the dairy darling, yogurt, but cup vs. cup, it holds its own nutritionally—plus it’s higher in protein and lower in sugar. And cottage cheese is finally getting the attention it deserves. “Yogurt has had the benefit of lots of marketing and innovation, especially the introduction of Greek yogurt,” says Ragone. “Cottage cheese has been associated with the diet plates of the seventies and eighties, but cottage cheese makers are now upping their game with smaller, more attractive packaging and moving them away from the sour cream in the stores and closer to the yogurt.”
Is It OK to Eat Cottage Cheese Every Day?
It’s fine to get a daily serving—or more—of cottage cheese. It’s an ideal post-workout snack because it contains casein, slow-digesting protein that’s used in some protein powders. Pine suggests the traditional pairing with fruit for a protein-carb combo that replenishes muscle and energy. “Cottage cheese has a high amount of the amino acid leucine, which gets into the muscle easily and triggers muscle protein synthesis,” says Pine. It may be even better as a nighttime snack. A study by Florida State researchers found that munching on cottage cheese before bed boosted metabolism rate and improved muscle recovery.
The Best Ways to Eat Cottage Cheese
Of course, you can just grab a spoon and enjoy straight from the container. Now manufacturers have made that even more appealing by going way beyond the conventional (but still yummy) cottage cheese and pineapple versions: Now you can get it with blueberries, peaches and pecans, raspberry, honey and pear, chives, cucumber and dill, and more!
It’s also super-easy to incorporate cottage cheese into your meals. The mildly tangy yet sweet flavor means it’s adaptable as a savory or sweet—you can use it as the base of your morning bowl, to thicken a smoothie, or to take your avocado toast to the next level. Whip it in a food processor with herbs for a creamy dip, or mix it into guacamole to lower the fat content and ratchet up the protein. And while you eat this versatile protein-packed superfood, you can even wear this shirt to show the love.