Cottage cheese was once one of the cool kids of the dairy world, but its popularity has greatly declined over the past 40 years. Consumption has declined by over half as other dairy products like Greek yogurt and kefir have rapidly gained in popularity. While cottage cheese may no longer be the sexy dairy food to eat, it still provides a lot in terms of nutrition.
Cottage cheese is super high in protein that is near comparable to some meat products. According to the USDA Nutrient Database, cottage cheese has the following protein per cup:
The recommend daily protein intake for men is 56 grams and 46 grams for women. You will receive a large portion of your daily recommendation of protein just by eating one cup of cottage cheese.
Cottage cheese is a low carbohydrate food assuming it is consumed plain. Adding a sugary topping like jelly or jams can greatly increase the carbs. The higher milkfat cottage cheese products will typically have the least amount of carbs (4-5 grams per 1/2 cup). Fat-free or nonfat cottage cheese products tend to have 6-7 carbs per 1/2 cup. Most of the sugar is natural (lactose sugar) and is not added to the product during manufacturing.
Cottage cheese is low in calories, especially if you choose the lowfat or nonfat products. Cottage cheese has the following approximate calories based on milk percentages for a 1 cup serving size:
For many people, eating a cup of cottage cheese will keep them full for a long time because of the high protein while only providing a maximum of 210 calories per serving. It is tough to beat these nutrition numbers when looking for a snack.
Cottage cheese is a very versatile product because it can be substituted for many higher calorie food items. For example, a very common substitute for ricotta cheese is cottage cheese. A cup of part-skim ricotta cheese has about 340 calories and 19 fat grams. In comparison, a cup of 2% reduced fat cottage cheese has approximately 195 calories and 6 grams of fat. The good news is that you cannot taste the difference (for most people) when cottage cheese is used instead of ricotta. Another good way to save calories is to replace sour cream with lower calories cottage cheese.
While there are some bad things about cottage cheese, like its high sodium or lactose content if you're lactose intolerant, overall it is good food choice nutritionally speaking. It is hard to find other products that are so high in protein, low in carbs and calories like cottage cheese. It also tastes amazing, especially when mixed with fruit or added to a recipe.