I Ate Cottage Cheese Every Day for a Week—Here’s What Happened
Little Miss Muffet sat on a tuffet eating curds and whey—which is code for cottage cheese, a timeless standby that's suddenly trending as a quick and convenient source of protein, vitamins and nutrients.
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Spring is high time for high-protein snacking, if you listen to social media: On TikTok alone, videos with the word “cottage cheese” have over 265 million views, with people creating calcium- and protein-rich cottage cheese recipes like cottage cheese toast and even cottage cheese ice cream. (Whaaat?!)
As one registered dietitian told us, cottage cheese possesses a versatility that many snackers don’t think of: “You can put cottage cheese into everything and make everything out of it,” says Crystal Scott, MS, RD, LD, CDCES, CSP, CSSD. Another dietitian suggested cottage cheese can even make scrambled eggs creamier, while amping up the nutrition value (and bringing a pretty impressive melt factor to your scramble). There’s a world of possibility inside that little dairy tub.
After taking on an assignment to eat cottage cheese every day for a week, I can report back that my experience was full of satisfying discoveries.
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Cottage cheese delivers impressive protein
Here’s one reason to love cottage cheese: It’s everywhere, and not only on TikTok. You can find cottage cheese at just about any grocery store and even at most convenience stores.
The place I first discovered it as a go-to was at my high school’s salad bar. There, I realized I could make a meal of cottage cheese, peas, and pasta and have a pretty well-balanced, high-protein lunch. So during my cottage-cheese-for-a-week experiment, I revisited this old favorite and realized it was an easy way to get 28 grams of lean protein (and only two grams of saturated fat) in a cup of 1% cottage cheese.
Dr. Guan elaborates. “Cottage cheese is a great source of protein and so versatile you can add it to almost any meal to boost your protein consumption,” she says. “It’s also excellent for families and busy people on the go because it’s so easy to incorporate.”
Dietitian Scott says it’s the type of protein that makes cottage cheese so high-quality: “Cottage cheese is a great source of casein protein, which is a slow-digesting protein that can provide a sustained release of amino acids to your muscles for longer periods of time. Casein is high in glutamine, which supports immune function and muscle recovery.”
Our associate editor at The Healthy @Reader’s Digest, who’s keenly bought into the social media cottage cheese wave, shared her response: “I’ve been eating it before workouts and before I bike somewhere, and it feels like the ideal pre-workout snack for me—it keeps me energized, and I don’t find myself reaching for anything else after I’m done. I would say it’s cut down on my snacking.”
When cottage cheese is her first meal of the day, she also observed: “The high protein content for such a light breakfast keeps me satisfied well into the afternoon without feeling weighed down.”
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Cottage cheese can be a great source of probiotics
Yogurt is one of my favorite foods, so for this week I wondered what would happen if I substituted cottage cheese for yogurt. When I spoke with Boston-based naturopathic doctor BreAnna Guan, ND, it became clear that I didn’t have to give up the probiotic benefits that I get from yogurt. “Some cottage cheese products are a rich source of probiotics, thus great for supporting gut health.”
But, Dr. Guan says, not all cottage cheese products contain probiotics. Read the label to find out—board-certified nutritionist Katie Bressack, INHC, AADP, suggests if the ingredients include cultured milk, it’s likely you’re getting some probiotic bang from your cottage cheese.
I found that cottage cheese worked just as well as yogurt with berries and homemade granola, which is one of my favorite go-to snacks or light meals. Along with the protein quotient that kept me full without feeling too stuffed, I like to believe my tummy was enjoying the probiotics, too.
Our associate editor also noted this effect on her digestive system: “I was wary about eating cottage cheese because I’m generally sensitive to dairy and it can lead to constipation for me, but my experience has actually been the opposite—a little bit in the morning and/or early evening has helped my bowel movements become more regular.” It’s highly possible that’s from the probiotic content.
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The calcium in cottage cheese can help strengthen your bones
Reading the label of a well known cottage cheese brand, a half-cup serving yields 10% of your calcium needs for the day. Double that to a full cup, and you’re doing your bones some good.
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Cottage cheese plays well with others
Cottage cheese is terrific right out of the container, but this week I discovered that if you’re not whipping cottage cheese, you’re missing out! I experimented whipping cottage cheese into both a sweet and a savory snack, more evidence of this food’s shapeshifting abilities.
I put a cup of cottage cheese in my Cuisinart Mini-Prep food processor with a couple of tablespoons of peanut butter, a generous squeeze of honey and a few sprinkles of cinnamon. I served this dip with apple slices for a high-protein snack loaded with healthy fat and nutrition that was delicious.
I also whipped cottage cheese with a garlic clove, a squeeze of lemon, and a bunch of chives for a savory dip to have with cucumber and bell pepper slices.
Cottage cheese contains sodium
There are a couple cottage cheese points to be mindful about, and one is the sodium content. Since the blog for Harvard University’s P.H. Chan School of Public Health notes that the recommended daily limit for sodium is 2,300 milligrams, it’s wise to note that a half-cup serving of Breakstone’s 4% milkfat cottage cheese contains almost one-third of that daily amount, with 750 milligrams.
Another ingredient to flag is the fat content, which can be a consideration for heart health and cholesterol. While we don’t suggest you should stick stringently to non-fat food—healthy fats are good for you!—it’s just important to remember that going full-fat with your cottage cheese is likely to add more saturated fat, too.
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- Crystal Scott, MS, RD, LD, CDCES, CSP, CSSD, Registered Dietitian at Top Nutrition Coaching
- BreAnna Guan, ND, a naturopathic physician in Boston