Dairy products can be a nutritional minefield. Dairy contains the important mineral calcium, but is loaded with calories and saturated fats that can contribute to weight gain and heart disease. When picking a snack food or side order for your lunch, looking at the particulars of yogurt versus cheese curds can help you make the best choice.
Cheese curds are a by-product of making cheese, skimmed off of the vats where the true cheese forms. Long discarded, or used for making cottage cheese, you can now buy cheese curds as a snack food. The United States Department of Agriculture provides nutrition information on a typical serving of cheddar cheese curds -- the most commonly available type.
Yogurt is made by allowing milk to ferment with the help of bacteria, but don't worry -- these bacteria are not only safe, but essential for healthy digestion. There are hundreds of varieties of flavored yogurt with various amounts of sugar and flavorings added. For the sake of simplicity, this article uses information for plain yogurt.
The USDA database for standard nutrition reference gives the serving size of cheese curds as 1 oz., and the serving size of yogurt as 8 oz. To make for more meaningful comparison, this article will use 8 oz amounts of both foods. Eight ounces of cheese curds contains about 830 calories. A similar amount of plain yogurt contains about 150.
A serving of yogurt contains about 8 g of total fat, divided between 5 g of saturated and 3 g of unsaturated fat. The same amount of cheese curd contains nearly 50 g of total fat, including about 35 g of saturated fat. When looking at the fats in a food, the amount of saturated fat as compared to healthy unsaturated fat is more important than the simple raw amount of total fat in a serving.
A serving of cheese curd contains 32 g of protein, about 60 percent of your USDA recommended daily value. Eight ounces of yogurt contains about 17 percent -- 8.5 grams. In both cases, these are complete proteins. They contain all of the amino acids that your body needs for optimum tissue health, but can't make for itself.
An 8-oz. serving of plain yogurt contains about 11.5 g of carbohydrate, all of which are sugars. The same amount of cheese curd contains almost 65 g of carbohydrate, including 18 g of sugars and about 3 g of dietary fiber. Sugars are simple carbohydrates that flood the body with blood glucose, a trait that can contribute to overweight, obesity and Type 2 diabetes.
Vitamins and Minerals
Yogurt is overwhelmingly richer in vitamins and minerals than cheese curd. A single serving contains 20 to 30 percent of your USDA daily value of riboflavin, calcium and phosphorus, and 10 to 20 percent of your vitamin B-12 and zinc. By contrast, 8 oz. of cheese curd contains nearly 75 percent of your daily calcium -- and nothing else but 1/10th of your daily allowance of sodium.
- USDA: National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference
- "Eat, Drink and Be Healthy"; Dr. Walter Willett; 2004
- What's Cooking America: Cheese Curds History
- "Milk Gone Bad"; Good Eats; Season 6, Episode 4