It's a staple in many weight-loss and bodybuilding diets, but cottage cheese should be welcome in almost any meal plan. Each 1-cup serving of cottage cheese provides one-third of your daily dairy food requirement, reports the U.S. Department of Agriculture's ChooseMyPlate website. Each serving of cottage cheese also comes packed with nutrition, and eating it boosts your intake of macronutrients, vitamins and minerals.
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Energy and Macronutrients
A cup of full-fat, small-curd cottage cheese contains 220 calories -- 11 percent of the daily intake in a standard 2,000-calorie diet -- and low-fat cottage cheese, made with 2 percent milk, contains 194 calories per cup. The major difference in calories comes from variation in the fat content -- full-fat cottage cheese contains 9.7 grams of fat per cup, compared to 5.5 grams in low-fat. Both types of cheese also contain protein, a nutrient your body can use to maintain healthy tissue. Full-fat cottage cheese provides 25 grams of protein per serving, while low-fat cottage cheese contains 27 grams.
Eat cottage cheese, and you'll boost your intake of calcium and selenium. A single serving of either full-fat or low-fat cottage cheese provides all the selenium you need in a day. This selenium fights the aging process due to its antioxidant function, and it also supports immune system function. In addition, cottage cheese contains calcium, an important component of healthy bone tissue. Getting enough calcium in your diet helps your heart, muscle and nerve function, too. Full-fat cottage cheese provides 187 milligrams of calcium per serving, while low-fat cottage cheese contains 206 milligrams -- 19 percent and 21 percent of the recommended daily intake, respectively.
Snacking on cottage cheese provides beneficial vitamins. Cottage cheese provides essential vitamin A, a nutrient your body needs to support cell growth and maintain the health of your eyes. Full-fat cottage cheese provides more vitamin A per serving, at 315 international units -- 11 percent of the recommended daily intake for men and 14 percent for women. Low-fat cottage cheese contains 167 international units per cup. Both types of cottage cheese contain vitamin B-5, or pantothenic acid, a vitamin that helps your body respond to stress and also supports brain function. Full-fat cottage cheese has 1.3 milligrams of vitamin B-5 -- 26 percent of the recommended daily intake -- while low-fat cottage cheese contains 0.6 milligrams, or 12 percent of the recommended daily intake.
Despite its many benefits, cottage cheese also comes loaded with sodium, which can make it harmful in large amounts. Full-fat cottage cheese contains 819 milligrams of sodium per cup, while its low-fat counterpart contains 746 milligrams. Both foods contribute a significant amount toward your daily sodium limit, which is 1,500 milligrams. A sodium-rich diet contributes to chronic health conditions, including kidney damage and cardiovascular disease. Limit sodium by opting for varieties of cottage cheese without salt added, and increase the cheese's flavor by pairing it with fresh fruit.
- USDA ChooseMyPlate: How Much Food from the Dairy Group Is Needed Daily?
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Cheese, Cottage, Creamed, Large or Small Curd
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Cheese, Cottage, Lowfat, 2% Milkfat
- Iowa State University Extension: Protein
- Colorado State University Extension: Dietary Fat and Cholesterol
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Calcium
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Selenium
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Vitamin A (Retinol)
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Vitamin B-5 (Pantothenic Acid)
- Linus Pauling Institute: Sodium (Chloride)