The diet staple of the ’70s is jiggling back into the mainstream — bringing with it a host of health benefits.
Some devour it plain, spooned straight from the tub. Others smear it over toast like burrata; blend it with sweet ingredients to make healthier versions of ice cream or cookie dough; or use it as a dip (paired with mustard) for raw veggies, fruits, sausages and more.
In July, Google searches for “cottage cheese” rose to the highest levels recorded since 2004.
“It’s definitely really trendy right now,” said Leah Goebel, a registered dietitian at Northwestern Medicine, adding that cottage cheese contains plenty of nutrients.
“I think it makes sense that it’s having a moment,” she said.
Is cottage cheese actually good for you?
Compared with other dairy products, cottage cheese is relatively low-calorie. A half-cup cup serving of full-fat cottage cheese contains around 100 calories, whereas an equal serving of ricotta cheese contains about 190 calories and a three-quarter-cup serving of full-fat Greek yogurt has about 160 calories.
And it comes with a range of nutritional benefits, said Julia Zumpano, a registered dietitian at the Cleveland Clinic. One serving provides about 30 percent of the recommended daily allowance of selenium, an essential trace mineral that is critical for DNA synthesis and warding off cell damage. Cottage cheese also contains riboflavin, she said, a vitamin that helps our cells grow and produce energy, and phosphorous, which maintains our teeth and bones. It’s also rich in calcium, Ms. Goebel said, which many Americans don’t get enough of in their diets.
And, as proponents on TikTok have noted, it’s high in protein. A half-cup serving has about 12 grams, roughly the same amount found in three eggs, 1.5 ounces of chicken breast or a half cup of full-fat Greek yogurt. That means cottage cheese can help people stay fuller for longer amounts of time, like between meals, Ms. Goebel said.
But cottage cheese can also contain a lot of sodium, said Eric Rimm, a professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “It’s kind of like bread — it’s one of those hidden things, like, ‘Wow, I never realized this had so much sodium.’” People with high blood pressure, in particular, may want to limit how much cottage cheese they consume, he said.
And if you are sensitive to lactose, Ms. Zumpano said, too much cottage cheese (or other types of dairy) can cause an upset stomach and bloating.
How to choose a healthy cottage cheese
Most grocery stores carry various types of cottage cheeses, including ones with different fat and flavor profiles, Dr. Rimm said. He suggested opting for those with zero added sugars and low fat percentages. Diets high in saturated fats can raise your blood levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol, which can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Some cottage cheeses also contain other added ingredients, such as artificial sweeteners or emulsifying agents, which can give the cheese curds “more of a bulking effect,” Dr. Rimm said. Nutrition experts recommend prioritizing whole, unprocessed foods whenever possible.
Dr. Rimm suggested scanning the ingredients list and choosing a cottage cheese that has no more than three or four ingredients total. They should also be ingredient names you recognize. “That’s really all you need to make it,” he said.