Top 9 Health Benefits of Cottage Cheese

Cottage cheese has been a traditional “meathead” food for decades due to its versatility, high protein content and the nutrient matrix that gives it many of the health benefits on this list. In this article, we’ll be digging into the different nutrients that make it great for building muscle mass, but also discussing why it is beneficial for those who are looking to improve health and lose weight.

Nutrition Facts

Nutrition facts

Per 100g [1]

Energy: 86 calories
Protein: 1.6g
Fat: 0.1g
Carbohydrates: 4.4g
Fiber: 3g
Sugars: 4.2g

Vitamins:

A: 89% RDA
B1: 7% RDA
B2: 5% RDA
B3: 4% RDA
B5: 16% RDA
B6: 16% RDA
B9: 3%
B12: nil
C: 3% RDA
D: nil
E: 2% RDA
K: nil
Calcium: 3% RDA
Iron: 5% RDA
Magnesium: 7% RDA
Manganese: 12% RDA
Phosphorous: 7% RDA
Potassium: 7% RDA
Zinc: 3% RDA

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Macronutrients

The macronutrient make-up of cottage cheese is one of the main attractions for athletes, bodybuilders and health enthusiasts alike.

1. Cottage cheese is High in Protein

Like many other ‘cultivated’ dairy products, cottage cheese is relatively high in dietary protein, associated with improved fat loss, muscle gain, recovery and athletic performance. 100g of cottage cheese (a relatively small portion) contains approximately 11-12g of protein [1], approximately 20% of the average person’s daily requirements.

2. The type of protein in cottage cheese may assist in muscle building

The type of protein found in cottage cheese is also to blame for its popularity among fitness enthusiasts. Casein is a slow-digesting protein found in many dairy foods and is revered for it slow-digestion, as many believe this makes it a superior protein source for consumption before sleeping. The idea is that casein will fuel muscle recovery and growth during sleep – whilst there is very little scientific evidence for this, there is a definite mechanism.

3. Cottage Cheese has an excellent, well-balanced Fat Profile

The fat profile of cottage cheese is also a big appeal – whilst the overall fat content is relatively low (with low-fat and no-fat variants available), the fats that it does contain is a good mix of high-quality saturated and unsaturated fats. Despite recent media panic, saturated fats are not necessarily “bad for you” and a number of the unsaturated fats in cottage cheese will assist in the proper balance of blood lipids (fats) [2].

Micronutrients

Cottage Cheese

Micronutrients are the things that generally determine which foods are “healthy” and which ones are not. When we imagine a healthy diet it is usually full of colourful veg, high-quality animal proteins and various plant-based foods (like black beans). The common quality they all share is a rich micronutrient profile: lots of vitamins and minerals.

4. Improve Enzyme, Immune and Blood health

As with many animal or dairy products, cottage cheese is rich in a variety of B vitamins. These are generally associated with proper enzyme production and function, making them an essential part of the maintenance of muscle building, fat loss, immune function, blood health and many other essential processes [3]. Many people in the English-speaking world are deficient in these vitamins and an increase in cottage cheese in the diet may be a good step towards addressing that deficiency.

We can acquire approximately 7% of our daily B12 needs from 100g of cottage cheese (a relatively small amount, depending on how you eat it) – a vitamin that is almost entirely absent from plant-based foods [4], where it is almost impossible to absorb into the body. There are comparable quantities of B2, B5 and B9, making it a relatively useful source of low-calorie, nutrient-dense dairy. This makes it an excellent choice for vegetarians who cannot get the full spectrum of B-vitamins from plant sources.

5. Supports Immune Function

Vitamin A is also found in reasonable quantities in cottage cheese, with around 5-7% of our daily requirement found in the modest 100g serving. Vitamin A is associated with proper immune function and the health of skin and other tissues [5]. This vitamin is found in a wide variety of foods and we are rarely deficient in the 21st century, but deficiency in this vitamin can cause serious dermatological damage.

6. Cottage cheese contains Vitamin D, something we all need more of

Vitamin D is one of the most common deficiencies seen in the world. Vitamin D comes from a number of sources, one of the most important is through synthesis in the skin when we are in sunlight. However, in certain climates there is not enough sunlight for us to synthesize vitamin D and those with darker skin struggle to create their own vitamin D in cooler climates because they are more resilient to the sun’s rays.

Cottage cheese, and many dairy products, are excellent sources of dietary vitamin D. The primary role of Vitamin D for health and performance is the maintenance of bone density and the uptake of calcium into the bones. Those who do not consume a sufficient amount of vitamin D in youth are more likely to develop osteoporosis and fractures as they advance in years [6].

7. Calcium and Potassium in Cottage Cheese Improves Bone Health

cottage cheese benefits

As mentioned above, the importance of bone mineral density is essential for longevity and a good quality of life. The uptake of calcium is aided by vitamin D but it is only possible when we are consuming sufficient amounts of calcium in the diet. Cottage cheese is a great source of calcium and, with its Vitamin D content, can give us the synergistic benefit of the two micronutrients.

Another, often-overlooked mineral is potassium. In combination with calcium, this mineral is associated with bone mineral density. Calcium and Potassium are the two main minerals that constitute the tough “outer” portion of the bones – giving our body a sufficient supply of both of these nutrients is a good way to ensure that we do not develop bone brittleness as we age.

8. Helps Maintains Muscle Health, Strength and Power

Magnesium, found in cottage cheese, is used for the excitement of nerves and muscles [3], making it essential to proper muscle development and athletic performance. Not only this, however, it will provide a protective function to the decaying of muscle power and strength as we grow old – an essential component in the reduction of fall injuries and loss of balance [7]. Muscular power is not only for those competing in power-sports, but is an overlooked essential for the maintenance of health and quality of life as we age.

9. Reduces Cell Damage and Risks of Prostate Cancer

Cottage cheese is replete in selenium – a trace element which has profound antioxidant effects and particular effect on prostate cancer. Antioxidants protect cells from free radicals which would otherwise cause harm to the DNA found in the cells, meaning that the selenium content in cottage cheese may reduce the chances of developing cancers generally and cancer of the prostate, specifically [8, 9].

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References

[1] USDA database [URL = https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/193702]
[2] Mattson et al (1985): ‘Comparison of effects of dietary saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids on plasma lipids and lipoproteins in man’. Journal of Lipid research, 26, pp.194-202
[3] Huskisson et al (2007): ‘The role of vitamins and minerals in energy metabolism and well-being’. The journal of international medical research, 35, pp.277-289
[4] Watanabe, F. (2007): ‘Vitamin b12 sources and bio-availability’. Experimental biology and medicine, 232(10)
[5] Mora et al (2008): ‘Vitamin effects on the immune system: vitamins A and D take centre-stage’. National review of immunology, 8(9), pp.685-698
[6] Bischoff-Ferrari et al (2009): ‘Fall prevention with supplemental and active forms of vitamin D: a meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials’. British Medical Journal, 339, 3692
[7] Zatsiorsky and Kraemer (2008): ‘Science and practice of strength training’. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, pp.216-219
[8] Ames, B.N. (1989): ‘Endogenous oxidative DNA damage, aging, and cancer’. Free radical research communications, 7, pp.121-128
[9] Diplock, A.T. (1992): ‘Selenium, antioxidant nutritions and human diseases’. Biological trace element research, 33(1-3), pp.155-156

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