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Feta vs. Ricotta — Health Impact and Nutrition Comparison

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Article author photo Jack  Yacoubian by Jack Yacoubian | Last updated on May 14, 2024
Medically reviewed by Arpi Gasparyan Article author photo Arpi Gasparyan
Feta
vs
Ricotta

Summary

Feta is richer in proteins and has a higher fat content. Feta has richer and more versatile vitamin and mineral profiles. Ricotta is lower in calories, sodium, and carbs and is cheaper. Ricotta is lower in sodium which is a more important difference between them.

Introduction

Feta is a white cheese that originated in Greece in the 8th century BC. Feta cheese is usually made with sheep’s milk or goat’s milk, often it could be mixed. Nowadays, feta cheese is spread all over the world and it is part of different culinary cultures.

Ricotta cheese is a white cheese that has a sweeter taste than feta cheese. Ricotta can be made from cow’s milk, sheep’s milk, or goat’s milk. It is usually prepared from the remainder of milk products after being used to prepare different types of cheeses or yogurts. It originated in Italy, it is assumed that ricotta production dates back to around 200 AD.

What is the actual difference?

There are differences between feta and ricotta. These differences vary among different aspects that are price, shelf life, taste and flavor, and origin among other points that are discussed further in the article.

Price

Feta cheese is relatively cheaper than ricotta. The average price per pound of feta cheese is around $7 whereas ricotta costs 13$ on average. Of course, cheaper versions of the same cheeses are available in the market however, on average, feta is cheaper.

Shelf life

After being open ricotta and feta have similar shelf lives which are around 5 days in the refrigerator and properly stored. However, if unopened, feta cheese remains for up to 1 month whereas ricotta remains for about 2 weeks.

Taste and flavor

Relatively speaking, the taste and texture are different between feta and ricotta. Feta has a slightly more acidic taste with a crumbling texture. Whereas ricotta has a sweeter flavor and leans towards a creamier texture. Both kinds of cheese are white.

Origin

As mentioned in the introduction, feta and ricotta have different origins. Feta originated in Greece whereas ricotta originated in Italy.

Culinary world

Feta is a white cheese that is mostly associated with olive or tapenade, olive paste. It is usually considered a “refreshing cheese”, meaning that it can be served as a cold topping on a greek salad. In addition to that, feta can be served as a topping on pizza or even made as a pasta sauce base with olive oil and cherry tomatoes.

Ricotta has an advantage over feta in gastronomy. Ricotta is more versatile than feta. Mainly due to its slightly creamier texture and sweeter flavor. Ricotta can replace sweet yogurts, it can be served with pancakes for breakfast. Ricotta is also used as a base for cheesecake, ice cream, tart, and preparations of other types of sweets and desserts.

In this article, we are going to be comparing the difference between feta cheese and ricotta according to their nutritional content difference, diet and weight loss effects, and health impacts.

Nutritional content comparison

Glycemic index

Both feta and ricotta have the same glycemic index which is equal to 27. They are classified as low glycemic index foods.

Calories

Feta is higher in calories compared to ricotta. Feta contains 1.5 times more calories than ricotta.

Carbs

Feta contains more carbs than ricotta. However, feta and ricotta are not high in carbs.

Proteins

Feta is richer in proteins compared to ricotta. Also, it is important to mention that they are rich in proteins. In addition to that, feta has a complete essential amino acid profile that is richer and more complete than that of ricotta.

Fat

Feta is higher in fats compared to ricotta. Feta contains 1.6 times more fat than ricotta. It is important to mention that their fat content is mostly distributed as saturated fats. In addition to that, feta contains as much saturated fat as there are total fats in ricotta cheese. This is important to take into consideration when it comes to their comparison.

Cholesterol

Similar to the fat content, feta is also higher in cholesterol compared to ricotta. 100g of feta can fill ⅓ of the recommended daily value of cholesterol.

Trans fat

Feta is higher in trans fats than ricotta.

Mineral content

Feta is richer in vitamins than ricotta. Feta contains more phosphorus, zinc, and calcium. On the other hand, it is important to mention that feta is high in sodium. The sodium content of feta is very high compared to ricotta.

Mineral Comparison

Mineral comparison score is based on the number of minerals by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" charts below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food.
Feta
8
:
Contains more Calcium +138.2%
Contains more Iron +71.1%
Contains more Magnesium +72.7%
Contains more Phosphorus +113.3%
Contains more Zinc +148.3%
Contains more Copper +52.4%
Contains more Manganese +366.7%
Contains more Potassium +69.4%
Contains less Sodium -90.8%
Equal in Selenium - 14.5
Calcium Iron Magnesium Phosphorus Potassium Sodium Zinc Copper Manganese Selenium 148% 25% 14% 145% 6% 120% 79% 11% 4% 82%
Calcium Iron Magnesium Phosphorus Potassium Sodium Zinc Copper Manganese Selenium 63% 15% 8% 68% 10% 11% 32% 7% 1% 80%
Contains more Calcium +138.2%
Contains more Iron +71.1%
Contains more Magnesium +72.7%
Contains more Phosphorus +113.3%
Contains more Zinc +148.3%
Contains more Copper +52.4%
Contains more Manganese +366.7%
Contains more Potassium +69.4%
Contains less Sodium -90.8%
Equal in Selenium - 14.5

Vitamins

Feta has a richer and more versatile vitamin content compared to ricotta. Feta is richer in B complex vitamins, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B12, and folate. The amounts of vitamins B2, B6, and B12 are very high thus making feta an important source of these vitamins.

Vitamin Comparison

Vitamin comparison score is based on the number of vitamins by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" charts below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food.
Feta
10
:
Contains more Vitamin E +63.6%
Contains more Vitamin D +100%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +1084.6%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +332.8%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +852.9%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +354%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +886%
Contains more Folate +166.7%
Contains more Vitamin B12 +397.1%
Contains more Vitamin K +63.6%
Contains more Choline +13.6%
Equal in Vitamin A - 445
Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin C Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Folate Vitamin B12 Choline Vitamin K 26% 4% 12% 0% 39% 195% 19% 59% 98% 24% 212% 9% 5%
Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin C Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Folate Vitamin B12 Choline Vitamin K 27% 3% 6% 0% 4% 45% 2% 13% 10% 9% 43% 10% 3%
Contains more Vitamin E +63.6%
Contains more Vitamin D +100%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +1084.6%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +332.8%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +852.9%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +354%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +886%
Contains more Folate +166.7%
Contains more Vitamin B12 +397.1%
Contains more Vitamin K +63.6%
Contains more Choline +13.6%
Equal in Vitamin A - 445

Diet and weight loss

Feta and ricotta are well fit for diets that are aimed at losing weight. They are both flavor-rich and versatile in their usages for different types of dishes. It is important to take into consideration the sodium amounts of feta. Ricotta on the other hand doesn’t have high sodium levels and it provides good alternatives in dessert preparations and sweets.

Vegan

Both feta and ricotta are dairy products meaning that they cannot be consumed in the vegan diet.

Keto

Feta and ricotta are low in carbs and are categorized as low glycemic index foods. They can be consumed in the keto diet. However, as mentioned above feta contains elevated amounts of sodium which should be taken into consideration.

Health impacts

Cardiovascular health

Section reviewed by cardiologist Astghik Grigoryan Article author photo Astghik Grigoryan

Both feta and ricotta are dairy products that may contain saturated fats, which can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease by raising LDL ("bad" cholesterol) levels. Ricotta tends to be lower in saturated fat than feta (1). 

Feta cheese is often high in sodium due to the brining process used in its preparation. High sodium intake is linked to hypertension and cardiovascular problems. On the other hand, ricotta typically has a lower sodium content, particularly if you choose low-sodium varieties (1, 2). 

Both feta and ricotta cheese contain peptides that have been found to exhibit ACE (angiotensin-converting enzyme) inhibition activity, which can help lower blood pressure. However, the specific ACE inhibition activity of feta versus ricotta may vary depending on factors such as processing methods, fermentation duration, and the specific strains of bacteria used in production (3, 4). 

Ricotta tends to be lower in calories compared to feta, making it a potentially better option for individuals looking to manage their weight, which is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. 

In summary, while both feta and ricotta can be part of a healthy diet, ricotta may have a slight advantage over feta in terms of its potential impact on cardiovascular health due to its lower saturated fat and sodium content. However, moderation and overall dietary balance are crucial, and individual health considerations should always be taken into account.

Diabetes

Low glycemic index cheese that contains low carbohydrates are not associated with an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. In this case, feta cheese and ricotta are both low in carbs and are categorized as low glycemic index foods, thus there is no association with developing type 2 diabetes. (5)

Cancer

Ricotta is associated with a decreased risk of developing breast cancer in women. Although there are many variables in factors of breast cancer development like age, number of pregnancies, etc... The ricotta was among the dairy foods that were negatively associated with the development of breast cancer. (6)

Prostate cancer is a concern in men, many factors have input in increasing or decreasing the risks of developing prostate cancer. In turn consumption of any type of dairy high fat or low fat, including feta and ricotta an increased risk of developing prostate cancer was observed. (7)

In cases of esophageal, gastric, pancreatic, and colorectal cancers there was no association of cancer development with dairy consumption, in this case, feta or ricotta. (8)

Intolerance and allergies

Section reviewed by gastroenterologist Arpi Gasparyan Article author photo Arpi Gasparyan

Feta and ricotta are not very high in carbs, their lactose levels are not elevated to cause issues in lactose-intolerant individuals. However, it could be that some individuals might have symptoms of lactose intolerance after eating feta or ricotta. To help with digestion, digestive enzymes can be taken to help digest them. 
If the cheeses are made with goat’s milk, many individuals suffer from goat’s milk allergies and intolerances thus it might cause a problem for them. Similarly is the case of whey allergies. (9) (10)

Article author photo Jack  Yacoubian
Education: Haigazian Medical University
Last updated: May 14, 2024
Medically reviewed by Arpi Gasparyan

Infographic

Feta vs Ricotta infographic
Infographic link

Macronutrient Comparison

Macronutrient breakdown side-by-side comparison
Feta
4
:
Contains more Protein +26.2%
Contains more Fats +63.9%
Contains more Carbs +34.5%
Contains more Other +409.8%
Contains more Water +29.8%
14% 21% 4% 55% 5%
Protein: 14.21 g
Fats: 21.28 g
Carbs: 4.09 g
Water: 55.22 g
Other: 5.2 g
11% 13% 3% 72%
Protein: 11.26 g
Fats: 12.98 g
Carbs: 3.04 g
Water: 71.7 g
Other: 1.02 g
Contains more Protein +26.2%
Contains more Fats +63.9%
Contains more Carbs +34.5%
Contains more Other +409.8%
Contains more Water +29.8%

Fat Type Comparison

Fat type breakdown side-by-side comparison
Feta
2
:
Contains more Monounsaturated Fat +27.5%
Contains more Polyunsaturated fat +53.5%
Contains less Saturated Fat -44.5%
74% 23% 3%
Saturated Fat: 14.946 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 4.623 g
Polyunsaturated fat: 0.591 g
67% 29% 3%
Saturated Fat: 8.295 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 3.627 g
Polyunsaturated fat: 0.385 g
Contains more Monounsaturated Fat +27.5%
Contains more Polyunsaturated fat +53.5%
Contains less Saturated Fat -44.5%

Comparison summary table

Pay attention to the rightmost column. It displays the amounts side by side, giving a clearer understanding of the difference.
Feta Ricotta
Lower in Sugar ok
Lower in Sodium ok
Lower in Cholesterol ok
Lower in Saturated Fat ok
Lower in price ok
Rich in minerals ok
Rich in vitamins ok
Lower in Glycemic Index Equal

All nutrients comparison - raw data values

Nutrient Feta Ricotta Opinion
Net carbs 4.09g 3.04g Feta
Protein 14.21g 11.26g Feta
Fats 21.28g 12.98g Feta
Carbs 4.09g 3.04g Feta
Calories 264kcal 174kcal Feta
Sugar 4.09g 0.27g Ricotta
Calcium 493mg 207mg Feta
Iron 0.65mg 0.38mg Feta
Magnesium 19mg 11mg Feta
Phosphorus 337mg 158mg Feta
Potassium 62mg 105mg Ricotta
Sodium 917mg 84mg Ricotta
Zinc 2.88mg 1.16mg Feta
Copper 0.032mg 0.021mg Feta
Manganese 0.028mg 0.006mg Feta
Selenium 15µg 14.5µg Feta
Vitamin A 422IU 445IU Ricotta
Vitamin A RAE 125µg 120µg Feta
Vitamin E 0.18mg 0.11mg Feta
Vitamin D 16IU 10IU Feta
Vitamin D 0.4µg 0.2µg Feta
Vitamin B1 0.154mg 0.013mg Feta
Vitamin B2 0.844mg 0.195mg Feta
Vitamin B3 0.991mg 0.104mg Feta
Vitamin B5 0.967mg 0.213mg Feta
Vitamin B6 0.424mg 0.043mg Feta
Folate 32µg 12µg Feta
Vitamin B12 1.69µg 0.34µg Feta
Choline 15.4mg 17.5mg Ricotta
Vitamin K 1.8µg 1.1µg Feta
Tryptophan 0.2mg 0.125mg Feta
Threonine 0.637mg 0.517mg Feta
Isoleucine 0.803mg 0.589mg Feta
Leucine 1.395mg 1.221mg Feta
Lysine 1.219mg 1.338mg Ricotta
Methionine 0.368mg 0.281mg Feta
Phenylalanine 0.675mg 0.556mg Feta
Valine 1.065mg 0.692mg Feta
Histidine 0.397mg 0.459mg Ricotta
Cholesterol 89mg 51mg Ricotta
Saturated Fat 14.946g 8.295g Ricotta
Monounsaturated Fat 4.623g 3.627g Feta
Polyunsaturated fat 0.591g 0.385g Feta

Which food is preferable for your diet?

ok
ok
is better in case of low diet
Feta Ricotta
Low Fats diet ok
Low Carbs diet ok
Low Calories diet ok
Low Glycemic Index diet Equal

People also compare

Vitamins & Minerals Daily Need Coverage Score

The summary scores indicate the extent to which this food can fulfill your daily vitamin and mineral requirements if you consume 3 servings, consisting of 100 grams of each (an approximation of 3 serving sizes).
Vitamins Daily Need Coverage Score
54%
Feta
13%
Ricotta
Minerals Daily Need Coverage Score
63%
Feta
29%
Ricotta

Comparison summary

Which food is lower in Sugar?
Ricotta
Ricotta is lower in Sugar (difference - 3.82g)
Which food contains less Sodium?
Ricotta
Ricotta contains less Sodium (difference - 833mg)
Which food is lower in Cholesterol?
Ricotta
Ricotta is lower in Cholesterol (difference - 38mg)
Which food is lower in Saturated Fat?
Ricotta
Ricotta is lower in Saturated Fat (difference - 6.651g)
Which food is cheaper?
Ricotta
Ricotta is cheaper (difference - $0.5)
Which food is richer in minerals?
Feta
Feta is relatively richer in minerals
Which food is richer in vitamins?
Feta
Feta is relatively richer in vitamins
Which food is lower in glycemic index?
?
The foods have equal glycemic indexes (27)

References

All the values for which the sources are not specified explicitly are taken from FDA’s Food Central. The exact link to the food presented on this page can be found below.

  1. Feta - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/173420/nutrients
  2. Ricotta - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170851/nutrients

All the Daily Values are presented for males aged 31-50, for 2000-calorie diets.

Data provided by FoodStruct.com should be considered and used as information only. Please consult your physician before beginning any diet.