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Is Cottage Cheese Healthy? We Asked The Experts

July 19, 2023

It seems that every year, there’s a new viral ingredient being used in hacks all over social media. Once upon a time, everyone was repurposing cauliflower as a way to healthy up all sorts of recipes. Now, the latest ingredient getting the star treatment is cottage cheese.

This year, TikTok’s newest recipe craze is cottage cheese. Seen in everything from spins on “ice cream”, making edible cookie dough, or mixing with mustard to create a protein-rich condiment, to a lightened up batch of pancakes, it seems there’s nothing this ingredient can’t do. But what’s all the hype about? And is it deserved?

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Many experts agree it’s not all that surprising that cottage cheese is the latest glorified food, as it is overall incredibly nutritious and versatile.

“Just one-half cup of cottage cheese has around 100 calories, 12 grams of protein, and only 3 grams of carbohydrates, making it a high-protein, low-carb option,” says Kelsey Kunik, RDN dietitian and nutrition writer at Graciously Nourished, who loves pairing cottage cheese with fruit to eat with a spoon or in a smoothie since the protein helps balance out the natural sugars in fruit.

There’s no doubt though that cottage cheese is getting a lot of love right now. According to recent data from MyFitnessPal, there has been a 70% increase in logging cottage cheese. That spike is being driven by females under 35, with 18 to 24 years old showing a 108% increase compared to 2022, and 25 to 34 years old showing a 78% increase.

“I’m a dietitian and health coach who often recommends cottage cheese to my patients and clients,” says Jessica Cording, MS, RD, CDN, INHC of, author of The Little Book of Game-Changers.

A few of the reasons Cording loves cottage cheese are that it’s high in protein, readily available, and versatile.  “My personal favorite way to enjoy cottage cheese is to blend it with plain Greek yogurt, vanilla extract, and maybe a little cocoa powder and/or maple syrup to eat as a high-protein snack or breakfast with berries and/or chia seeds. Sometimes I’ll serve it with fruit and graham crackers as a cheesecake dip,” says Cording.

What are some health benefits of cottage cheese?

Cottage cheese is a high-protein food. “Casein digests slower than whey protein, creating a sustained supply of amino acids. This characteristic promotes satiety and blood sugar by slowing digestion and leading to prolonged satiety,” says Denise Hernandez, MS, RD, LD.

This also promotes blood sugar control by preventing spikes. Another health benefit of the high content of casein in cottage cheese is its role in muscle growth and muscle retention.

“Casein is anti-catabolic, which means it reduces protein breakdown within the body,” says Hernandez. “The slow-digesting nature of casein allows for sustained access of amino acids to muscle cells. Muscle cells are then given the opportunity to synthesize protein.”

Cottage cheese provides essential vitamins and minerals. “It is a good source of bone health-promoting minerals like phosphorus, potassium, and calcium,” says Hernandez. “It is also a good source of vitamin B12, which is linked to preventing cancer, cardiovascular disease and stroke, dementia, cognitive function, and energy.”

When a culture is used during the production of cottage cheese, it contains beneficial gut health-supporting probiotics.

“Probiotics contribute many health benefits, including balancing the good bacteria in the digestive tract, preventing and treating diarrhea, supporting cardiovascular health, and reducing certain allergies and eczema,” says Hernandez.  Read the label for “live and active cultures” to identify a probiotic-rich cottage cheese.

Related: How Much Protein Do I Really Need? Here’s What Science Says.

Are there any elements that are not healthy, and a reason it should be done in moderation/not excess?

Overall, cottage cheese is a protein-packed food that can be a part of a healthy diet. However, if you are at risk for high cholesterol or blood pressure using the lower-fat varieties is a better option.

“Flavored cottage cheeses can have added sugars, so be sure to read the nutrition label for unnecessary ingredients and stick to the lower-sugar or plain options,” says Joanna Gregg, MS, RD. “To stay on course and achieve your health goals, you can utilize an app like MyFitnessPal to provide you with a snapshot of your daily nutrition.”

It may be something to watch if you are sensitive to lactose or watching your sodium, too.

“I tend to prefer cultured versions as a way to work in gut-healthy probiotic bacteria,” says Cording. “A few things to keep in mind, however, are that most varieties are very high in sodium, which can contribute to bloating and may not be suitable for those who need to watch sodium intake for medical reasons. It also is a source of lactose so may cause GI discomfort in people who are intolerant.”

Why is cottage cheese such a trendy ingredient right now?

Cottage cheese is so versatile, inexpensive, and has the ability to be added to many foods as a healthier alternative to higher-fat, lower-protein dairy products. “Using cottage cheese in place of sour cream or ranch dressing increases the protein content and decreases the fat for an overall better macronutrient value,” says Gregg.

Higher protein diets have gained popularity recently. “Meals high in protein ward off hunger and reduce the risk of unnecessary snacking or cravings later making the addition of cottage cheese to any meal a win,” says Gregg.

For people looking to add protein to their diet for muscle growth and bone health, cottage cheese is high in protein and low in carbs with a 1/2 cup serving providing 12 grams of protein and 6 grams of carb, says Gregg.

Cottage cheese also has a mild taste, which makes it a great way to add protein to traditionally lower-protein foods while still maintaining the taste and experience we are hoping for. So, go ahead and blend or whip it into all those dishes, from sweet or savory dishes. Whether you’re seeking ice cream, pancakes, or an upgrade to that mustard dipping sauce…you may be surprised at the results!

Related: 8 Cottage Cheese Recipes That Are Packed with Protein

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