Why RDs Call Cottage Cheese a Superhero for Bone Health (and How To Eat More of It)

Photo: Stocksy/Kiki Smith
Controversial opinion: Cottage cheese is delicious. Furthermore, it doesn’t get the respect it deserves in the dairy family where it’s treated as a distant (and widely misunderstood) cousin to more beloved members like cream cheese, ricotta, sour cream, and Greek yogurt. Or maybe cottage cheese has Little Miss Muffet to blame for its bad rap, seeing as the nursery rhyme character was eating curds and whey—ICYMI, that means cottage cheese—when that spider sat down beside her and… well, you know the rest. Either way, this is unfortunate, according to registered dietitian Sarah Curry, MS, RD, because the health benefits of cottage cheese are too good to pass up.

Experts In This Article

In particular, eating cottage cheese can help boost bone health because it’s rich in calcium, a mineral most women don’t get nearly enough of, Curry says. “ It’s hard to understate how important it is to intentionally add in calcium sources into your daily diet,” says Curry. “A substantial amount of women consume less than 65 percent of the calcium they need, per a recent survey by the USDA. The implications on bone health down the road can be severe.” And it's not just women that should be mindful of this nutrient: The USDA also found that 39 percent of all Americans over age four don’t get enough calcium.

In addition to being a good source of bone-supporting calcium—one cup of two-percent cottage cheese contains 17 percent of your daily intake—cottage cheese is also rich in B12 (necessary for healthy blood and nerve cells), riboflavin (which helps your body turn carbs into fuel and fights free radicals), phosphorus (a building block for strong bones and teeth), and selenium (a trace mineral that protects against cell damage), according to Curry.

Nutritional profile of one cup of two-percent cottage cheese:

  • 17 percent DV of calcium
  • 38 percent DV of B12
  • 26 percent DV of phosphorus
  • 40 percent DV of riboflavin
  • 58 percent DV of selenium

When it comes to consuming cottage cheese, the one thing to be keep in mind is that along with all of those wonderful nutrients, it also carries a lot of sodium, according to Curry. “About 30 percent of the recommended intake for an entire day,” she says. Good news though: “If you have high-blood pressure that is sensitive to salt or just want a lower-sodium cottage cheese, you will easily find this at most grocery stores."

Aside from its ability to support bone health, one of the best health benefits of cottage cheese is that it’s high in protein. This makes it a good option to eat for post-workout snack, Curry says. “Half a cup of cottage cheese with peach slices provides the whey protein to support muscle recovery, the calcium, sodium, and potassium to replace the electrolytes lost in sweat, and the carbs needed to replenish glycogen stores,” she says. “Eat this within 30 minutes after your workout for best results.”

Curry says eating cottage cheese with fruit is her favorite way to enjoy it, but notes that you don’t need to consume it in any specific way to reap its nutritional benefits. This makes it a versatile ingredient to add to lots of dishes as evidenced by the round-up of cottage cheese recipes below.

5 cottage cheese recipes that’ll change your mind about the protein-rich food

1. Savory Cottage Cheese Muffins

Photo: Hey Nutrition Lady

File this under your list of healthy breakfast recipes and afternoon snack options because these protein-packed muffins will fill you up, without leaving you in a food coma. This recipe is gluten-free and includes broccoli and cheddar cheese as its primary flavor sources. Best of all, they’re freezer friendly, so you can make them ahead if you prefer to meal prep.

Get the recipe: Savory Cottage Cheese Muffins

2. Blueberry Cottage Cheese Overnight Oats

Photo: Hungry Hobby

When it's too hot to to think about turning on the oven or stove, this make-ahead breakfast recipe comes in handy—the author swaps it in for a similar oatmeal dish during the summer months. It’s got plenty of protein to keep you full till lunchtime, plus, in addition to calcium-rich cottage cheese, you’ll also find that it calls for pumpkin seeds, a good source of magnesium, which your body needs for myriad reasons.

Get the recipe: Blueberry Cottage Cheese Overnight Oats

3. Cottage Cheese Scrambled Eggs

Photo: The Protein Chef

If you prefer your scrambled eggs to be creamy as opposed to fluffy, replacing the milk you may regularly use with cottage cheese will give you the same effect, while adding more protein and nutrients into the mix. Best part? This recipe only calls for two ingredients—it doesn’t get easier than that.

Get the recipe: Cottage Cheese Scrambled Eggs

4. Cottage Cheese Pancakes

Photo: Mom Dish

Not really into the idea of making any cottage cheese recipes that bare the texture of it? We've got you. Sneaking healthy foods into pretty much any meal is a favorite pastime of parents the world over, but the trick also works on you, and these cottage cheese pancakes will taste so good that you’ll forget one of their main ingredients is curds and whey. We promise!

Get the recipe: Cottage Cheese Pancakes

5. Cottage Cheese Lasagna

Photo: Neighbor Food Blog

As mentioned above, ricotta tends to get more play, especially in pasta dishes like lasagna, but cottage cheese is an excellent substitute that’ll offer more nutritional benefits, while not disrupting the flavor profile. For a seamless swap, the author notes to stick to small-curd cottage cheese.

Get the recipe: Cottage Cheese Lasagna

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