Although pregnant women should avoid certain foods that contain environmental toxins or pose a risk for foodborne illness, cottage cheese is generally safe to eat during pregnancy. In fact, cottage cheese is packed with nutrients that are essential for a healthy pregnancy. Eating cottage cheese in recommended amounts will help pregnant women meet their daily nutritional needs.
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Cottage cheese is rich in protein, dietary calcium, vitamin B-12 and phosphorus, which are all essential nutrients for pregnant women. While the recommended dietary allowance, or RDA, for protein is 46 grams daily for women who are not pregnant or nursing, the RDA during pregnancy and lactation is 71 grams per day, notes the Institute of Medicine. One cup of low-fat cottage cheese contains 28 grams of dietary protein -- about 40 percent of the protein RDA for pregnant women.
The amount of cottage cheese -- or other dairy foods -- pregnant women should eat depends on their daily calorie needs but is generally 3 cups per day. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics notes that pregnant women often require 2,200 to 2,900 calories daily -- which means they need three 1-cup equivalents of dairy foods daily, note the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010. ChooseMyPlate.gov reports that a 1-cup portion from the dairy foods group equals 1 cup of milk or yogurt, 1.5 ounces of hard cheese or 2 cups of cottage cheese.
Cheeses to Avoid
Although cottage cheese is usually a healthy choice during pregnancy, not all cheeses are safe for pregnant women. The American Pregnancy Association suggests women avoid unpasteurized soft cheeses -- such as Roquefort, feta, Camembert, Brie, Gorgonzola, queso fresco and queso blanco -- unless they are made using pasteurized milk. Unpasteurized cheeses may contain the bacteria listeria, which can cause miscarriage in pregnant women, the American Pregnancy Association notes.
Other Healthy Options
Pregnant women don’t have to eat cottage cheese to meet their daily protein and calcium needs. In fact, cottage cheese is fairly high in sodium, so it should be eaten in moderation in addition to other protein- and calcium-rich options. Other protein-rich choices include Greek yogurt, lean meats, skinless poultry, eggs, veggie burgers, legumes, nuts and seeds. Additional calcium-rich options include calcium-fortified orange juice or almond milk, tofu made using calcium sulfate and calcium-fortified breakfast cereals.
- Institute of Medicine: Dietary Reference Intakes: Macronutrients
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Cheese, Cottage, Lowfat, 1% Milkfat
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Healthy Weight During Pregnancy
- U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010
- ChooseMyPlate.gov: What Counts as a Cup in the Dairy Group?
- American Pregnancy Association: Food to Avoid During Pregnancy