Is Cottage Cheese Good or Bad for You?

  • Medical Reviewer: Dany Paul Baby, MD
Medically Reviewed on 8/4/2022

What is cottage cheese?

Dairy is a core element of a nutritious diet, and cottage cheese is a delicious way to include dairy in your diet. Cottage cheese is good for you because it supplies protein and it helps build muscle but it is bad because it has salt and unpasteurized versions may make you sick.
Dairy is a core element of a nutritious diet, and cottage cheese is a delicious way to include dairy in your diet. Cottage cheese is good for you because it supplies protein and it helps build muscle but it is bad because it has salt and unpasteurized versions may make you sick.

Dairy is a core element of a nutritious diet, and cottage cheese is a delicious way to include dairy in your diet. Cottage cheese also provides you with protein, vitamins, and several other nutrients. 

At the same time, cheeses can also be high in salt and saturated fats. Do cottage cheese's benefits outweigh its harms?

Cottage cheese is made from milk by coagulating it and removing the whey. This process retains the calcium, fats, proteins, and other nutrients of the milk used in varying proportions. Using low-fat or skim milk yields cottage cheese, which provides good amounts of protein and reduced saturated fats. Cottage cheese is available in full-cream, low-fat, lactose-free, and reduced-sodium varieties. 

Cottage cheese is a fresh cheese. It is not aged or ripened and has a very mild flavor. This makes it amenable to inclusion in various recipes since it doesn't overwhelm the other ingredients with its aroma or flavor. You can also enjoy cottage cheese by itself.

Cottage cheese nutrition

The nutrients in cottage cheese vary depending on the milk used to make it. Cottage cheese made from low-fat (2% fat) milk will provide the following nutrients in a 100-gram portion:

  Energy            82 calories    
  Protein     11 grams
  Fats     2.3 grams
  Carbohydrate      4.3 grams
  Calcium    103 milligrams 
  Sodium    321 milligrams 

Cottage cheese also provides several of the following vitamins: A, B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine), B9 (folate), and others. It contains minerals like selenium, copper, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, and manganese. 

Cottage cheese made from low-fat milk contains only 12 milligrams of cholesterol per 100-gram serving. 

Like other dairy products, though, cottage cheese provides little to no iron.

Cottage cheese benefits

Cottage cheese and your daily protein

Cottage cheese is rich in protein, an essential component of your diet. A 100-gram portion of cottage cheese provides 11 grams of protein. This can be as much as a fifth to a quarter of your daily protein requirement. The recommended daily protein intake is about 0.8 to 1g per kilogram of body weight.

Meat is the usual source of protein in Western diets, but there is evidence that it may not be the healthiest option. Mixing up your protein sources may be better. Otherwise, a diet high in red meat can increase your risk of colon cancer

Obtaining part of your protein from sources like dairy, nuts, fish, and grains is often better for your health.

Cottage cheese and weight loss

If you're trying to lose weight, you'll benefit from including cottage cheese in your dietary plan. Cheese contains ample protein. Protein-containing foods are good for satiety, meaning you will feel full for a longer time. Diets high in protein but with reduced calories lead to weight loss. A snack of low-fat cottage cheese is not only low in calories: It also keeps you from feeling hungry (and thus from raiding the refrigerator). 

Cottage cheese for muscle building

Cottage cheese is a good option if you're trying to increase muscle mass and don't enjoy commercial supplements. The proteins in cheese are complete proteins and have all the amino acids required by the body. 

Weight training or other resistance exercises combined with protein intake help you build muscle mass. An intake of 20 grams of high-quality protein is optimal when consumed after a workout. You can get this amount of protein from a 200-gram portion of cottage cheese.

Calcium content

Cottage cheese provides calcium, which is essential for bone and tooth health. Consuming enough calcium is vital to preventing bone loss (osteoporosis). That said, the making of cheese reduces the calcium and potassium content of milk by about half and increases the sodium content several times. As a result, unlike some other dairy foods, cottage cheese is not very beneficial for bone health.

Breast cancer protection

There is some evidence that cottage cheese protects you from breast cancer. Hard cheeses do not have this protective effect.


According to the USDA, there is no difference between a “portion” and a “serving.” See Answer

Cottage cheese harms

Cottage cheese is made from milk and contains 3 to 4 grams of sugars per 100 grams. Most of this sugar is lactose, a disaccharide, which must be broken down in the intestines before it can be absorbed. Many adults are deficient in the enzyme lactase, making them lactose-intolerant. 

If you experience significant bloating, gassiness, and diarrhea after consuming dairy, you may be lactose-intolerant. Your doctor can confirm this for you with some laboratory tests. You don't have to give up cottage cheese, but you should look for lactose-free cheese, milk, and other dairy products. 

Cheese and your salt intake

Cheeses contain significant amounts of salt — sometimes as much as 2 grams or more per 100 grams. Cottage cheese has among the lowest salt content among cheeses, but it is still a lot (0.55 grams per 100 grams). Unfortunately, consuming a lot of salt is bad for your health in many ways. Salt increases your blood pressure and increases your risk of strokes, heart attacks, and heart failure. Excessive salt in your diet can also cause kidney disease, stomach cancer, and osteoporosis (bone thinning). Increased sodium intake forces your kidneys to excrete calcium, so cheese intake may actually be bad for bone health.

A 100-gram serving of cottage cheese has over 300 mg sodium per 100 grams. The recommended intake of sodium for adults is 2,300 mg a day or less {US Department of Agriculture: "Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025."}. 

A major portion of your salt intake comes from processed foods. Salt is added during manufacturing before you purchase it. If you eat cottage cheese regularly, look for low-sodium varieties. In general, supermarkets' own brands have lower salt content than branded products.

Cheese, blood cholesterol, and heart disease

A major concern with dairy foods is blood cholesterol levels and cardiovascular disease. It is well-proven that consuming full-fat milk and products made from such milk are harmful. They raise lipid levels in the blood and increase the risk of heart disease

However, consuming low-fat or skim milk, or cheeses made from such milk, does not increase your risk of heart disease. It is possible to get the benefits of first-class protein and other nutrients in cheese without the heart disease risk by choosing low-fat varieties. 

Cheese intake is a major contributor to dietary saturated fat, although even cheese made from full-fat milk has a less harmful effect on lipids (including total cholesterol, low-density lipoproteins, and high-density lipoproteins) than butter. This is perhaps because of a higher amount of calcium in cheese compared to butter. The calcium forms insoluble fatty acid calcium soaps in the intestines, which are not absorbed. Cheese made from low-fat milk should be even safer.

Cottage cheese dangers

Cottage cheese, like other dairy products, can carry infections. It is crucial that cottage cheese should be made from pasteurized milk and stored appropriately. Pasteurization kills most bacteria, but facilities with unsanitary conditions can contaminate the cheese. 

Listeriosis is a dangerous disease that usually causes fever and diarrhea. It can be serious in people with reduced immunity, pregnant people, children, and older people.  Raw milk can also carry other infections like Brucella, Campylobacter, Cryptosporidium, Escherichia coli, and Salmonella

Always make sure the cheese you buy is made from pasteurized milk. Raw milk is often promoted as being good for health, but it is one of the riskiest foods. Pasteurized milk retains all the benefits of milk while removing the dangers.

Cottage cheese made from raw milk is never safe, even when labeled as organic or made from the milk of grass-fed cows. Laboratory tests for bacteria in raw milk may not detect low levels of contamination that can make you very sick. 

Pasteurization is the only way to make milk and milk products like cheese safe.

Cottage cheese in your diet

Cottage cheese is rich in minerals and vitamins and is an excellent source of non-meat protein. You should make efforts to include it in your diet regularly. 

Cottage cheese is a fresh cheese and is not ripened or aged. This gives it a mild, even sweet flavor. You can easily add it to salads, fruit, smoothies, scrambled eggs, and lasagna. Spreading it on toast and using it as a substitute for sour cream in recipes also works well. 

Be careful, though, to buy cheese made from pasteurized milk only. Cheese made from raw milk of any origin is dangerous. 

If you are lactose-intolerant, lactose-free cottage cheese is available. 

Cheeses are also made with large amounts of salt to add flavor. That being said, cottage cheese generally has less salt than other cheeses like cheddar and blue cheese. Look for low-salt varieties of cottage cheese to reduce your sodium intake.

Cheese can contribute as much as 10% of the saturated fats in Western diets, so cottage cheese made with low-fat or skimmed milk is the healthier option.

Overall, cottage cheese is a delicious and healthy food for adults and children, and taking care to avoid the potential harms will allow you to get its health and nutrition benefits in the most efficient way possible. 


Foods That Aren't as Healthy as You Think See Slideshow

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors

Medically Reviewed on 8/4/2022

Advances in Nutrition: "Influence of dairy product and milk fat consumption on cardiovascular disease risk: a review of the evidence."

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: "Dairy foods and bone health: examination of the evidence," "The role of protein in weight loss and maintenance."

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "Listeria Outbreak Linked to Queso Fresco Made by El Abuelito Cheese Inc.," "Raw Milk Questions and Answers."

Food and Function: "Dietary protein intake and human health."

National Health Service: "Bowel cancer — Overview."

Nutrients: "Consumption of Dairy Products and the Risk of Developing Breast Cancer in Polish Women," "Protein Intake and Exercise-Induced Skeletal Muscle Hypertrophy: An Update."

US Department of Agriculture: "Cheese, cottage, lowfat, 2% milkfat," "Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025."