Cottage Cheese: Are There Health Benefits?

Medically Reviewed by Christine Mikstas, RD, LD on March 13, 2023
2 min read

Rich, full of texture, and packed with protein, cottage cheese makes for a wonderful snack. Sometimes referred to as curds and whey, this dairy product differs from cheese in that it’s not aged, but rather, sold and served fresh. It's also low in calories when compared with other cheeses.

Cottage cheese has a long history as a power food. While various forms likely existed thousands of years ago, the product as we know it today first became popular during World War I, when the U.S. Department of Agriculture promoted it as a top option for consuming protein. The USDA’s goal was to save as much of the meat supply as possible for soldiers stationed abroad.

After the war, cottage cheese remained popular as a diet food. It's popularity peaked during the 1970s. While cottage cheese has lost ground to yogurt, it remains a great alternative for diet-conscious dairy lovers.

Cottage cheese may be well-regarded for its high calcium content, but this is just one of several nutrients that make it worth adding to your diet. It is also a great source of vitamin B12, which plays an important role in preventing anemia.

Other nutrients in cottage cheese include:

  • Potassium
  • Phosphorus
  • Selenium
  • Vitamin A

A one-cup serving of low-fat cottage cheese contains:

  •  185 calories
  •  25 grams of protein
  •  2.7 total grams of fat (1.4 grams saturated fat)
  •  11 grams of carbohydrates
  •  0 grams of fiber
  •  9 grams of sugar
  • 136 mgs potassium

Cottage cheese is an excellent source of calcium, which plays an important role in maintaining bone health. People who get more calcium are less likely to develop osteoporosis.

Cottage cheese also can provide:

Blood sugar management. Cottage cheese has a limited impact on blood glucose levels, especially compared to other low-fat dairy products. For people with type 2 diabetes, this makes it a great alternative to other cheeses.

Muscle recovery. Research suggests that people who eat protein-rich bedtime snacks like cottage cheese enjoy better muscle quality and higher metabolism. The high protein content in cottage cheese comes mostly from casein, which — because it’s slowly absorbed — can build muscle just as well as whey protein.

Thyroid health. Cottage cheese is an excellent source of selenium, an essential trace mineral that plays an important role in how your thyroid works. So it may be helpful for those with Hashimoto's thyroiditis or Graves' disease. 

While cottage cheese can be low in calories, some varieties have significant levels of saturated fat and more calories. Be sure to read the label before you buy to make sure you get all the benefits you need. Need extra flavor? Add your own using fruits or vegetables before risking added sugar or salt to choose a pre-mixed version.