Ricotta vs Cottage cheese - Health impact and Nutrition Comparison
In human diets, cheeses are an essential source of nutrients and health-promoting compounds. Ricotta cheese and cottage cheese are white and shapeless cheeses. Ricotta cheese is a kind of cheese that has been traditionally made in Italy from whey which is found in cheese made from sheep’s milk (1). In order to denature the whey proteins, the way was heated (1). The resulting coagulated protein was separated from the whey.
Because of the exceeding demand for ricotta cheese in some countries, the traditional method of preparation has been altered. According to that process, ricotta is made from whey protein powders or milk/whey mix (1).
On the other hand, cottage cheese, also known as curd, is produced using pasteurized milk, which is injected with an active lactic starter in order to increase the concentration of acid. Rennet is also added to speed up the coagulation process (2). This coagulated product is then cubed and will form the curds. It is later washed with warm and cold water (2).
Both ricotta and cottage cheese are fresh cheeses and not aged cheeses. Moreover, they both have almost the same price. We will compare and contrast the nutritional content, benefits, and health risks associated with the two kinds of cheese.
Ricotta cheese made from starter cultures has a nutty flavor (3). On the other hand, cottage cheese has a mild creamy flavor.
Check out the accompanying infographics to compare and differentiate the nutritional content of ricotta cheese and cottage cheese. The mineral comparison score is a score that is assigned according to the number of minerals by which one food or another is richer.
Ricotta cheese was assigned a score of 6 while cottage cheese was given a score of 2. This is due to the fact that ricotta cheese has more iron, calcium, magnesium, zinc, and selenium. On the other hand, cottage cheese contains more copper. Ricotta cheese contains 76.9% less sodium compared to cottage cheese. Both food items are equal in their potassium and phosphorus compositions.
The vitamin comparison score is indicative of the number of vitamins by which one or another food is richer. Ricotta cheese was assigned a higher vitamin score of 6 compared to cottage cheese’s score of 4. More precisely, ricotta cheese is richer in vitamin A, vitamin E, and vitamin D, vitamin K, and vitamin B2. Meanwhile, cottage cheese has a comparatively higher vitamin B1, vitamin B5, and vitamin B12 content. Both foods have equal amounts of vitamin B3, vitamin B6, and folate.
Ricotta cheese is around 1.78 times higher in calories compared to cottage cheese.
Cottage cheese is slightly higher in carbohydrates (3.38 g in 100 g) compared to cottage cheese (3.04 g in 100 g). Moreover, cottage cheese is around 9.88 times higher in sugars than ricotta cheese. Both foods contain 0 g of fiber.
Ricotta cheese is slightly higher in proteins (11.26 g in 100 g) compared to cottage cheese (11.12 g in 100 g).
Cottage cheese is higher in tryptophan, isoleucine, phenylalanine, and valine. On the other hand, ricotta cheese is richer in threonine, leucine, lysine, methionine, and histidine.
Both ricotta cheese and cottage cheese are equal and low in glycemic index.
Ricotta cheese is 3 times higher in fat compared to cottage cheese. Moreover, 100 grams of ricotta cheese contains 51 grams of cholesterol, while 100 grams of cottage cheese contains only 17 grams. Furthermore, ricotta cheese possesses around 4.84 times more saturated fats compared to cottage cheese. However, in contrast with cottage cheese, ricotta cheese has 3.13 times more polyunsaturated and 4.67 times more monounsaturated fats.
WEIGHT LOSS AND DIETS
More than half the calories found in cottage cheese is contributed by its proteins. Studies have shown than consuming protein-rich foods contributes to satiety (4, 5). Consuming satiating foods helps one avoid eating more than one’s body needs. On the other and, ricotta cheese is around 2.5 times higher in calcium compared to cottage cheese. Studies suggest that calcium may have an antiobesity effect (6). Meanwhile, a diet deficient in calcium has the opposite effect (7).
We’ll examine the relation between ricotta cheese and cottage cheese and different diets.
Low-calorie diet: Cottage cheese have lower calories, so they can be one’s go-to cheese compared to ricotta cheese if they are counting calories.
Low-fat diets: cottage cheese is lower in fat and suitable for low fat diets.
Low-carb diets: Ricotta cheese is more suitable for low-carb diets as it contains less carbohydrates. Moving on, both types of cheeses have equal glycemic index which is low and suitable for diabetics.
Keto diet: cottage cheese, similar to ricotta cheese, is somewhat high in carbohydrates and not that high in fats, so it is not a very ideal choice in this case. Therefore, portion-watching is essential when consuming these two kinds of cheese while on the keto diet.
DASH diet: entails a low-fat and low-sodium regime. Ricotta cheese is lower in sodium and but higher in fat compared to cottage cheese. So, low-fat and low-sodium versions of these cheeses are fine in moderate amounts.
Atkin’s diet: In some phases of the Atkin’s diet, high fat low-carb dairy is permissible. In this respect, ricotta cheese wins over cottage cheese.
Mediterranean diet: Low-fat ricotta and cottage cheese are recommended for followers of the Mediterranean diet.
Paleo diet: Dairy products are not consumed in the original Paleo diet. However, the modified Paleo diet allows the consumption of grass-fed ricotta or cottage cheese (full-fat version).
Anti-inflammatory diet: An anti-inflammatory diet entails limiting the consumption of saturated fats and incorporating healthy omega-3 fatty acids. In this case, cottage cheese is relatively better. Moreover, grass-fed milk made from grass-fed cheese has a higher amount of omega-3 fatty acids. So, grass-fed cottage cheese is recommended (8).
Both cottage cheese and ricotta cheese contain important proteins that play a role in muscle building. A study has shown that increased dairy product intake and higher consumption of protein resulted in greater lean mass gain when coupled with exercise in women (9). Casein and whey are proteins usually found in cheese. Casein is known as a “slow protein” while whey is known as a “fast protein”. This is related to the speed of release of amino acids into the gut (10).
Cottage cheese is a protein-rich food that is reputable amongst athletes. It is particularly rich in the protein casein. Casein is consumed before sleep to allow the release of amino acids throughout the night and prevention of muscle loss (11).
On the other hand, ricotta cheese is rich in whey proteins. A study showed that whey protein was better at inducing the gradual growth of postprandial muscle protein compared to casein in older men (12).
Moreover, a study showed that the addition of ricotta cheese into one’s diet results in an improvement in appendicular skeletal muscle mass and a decrease in the loss of muscle strength (13).
Also, a study concluded that whey induced greater muscle protein synthesis than casein. This study also mentioned that this difference may be due to the fact that whey is a “fast protein” (14).
A metanalysis of 15 prospective studies concluded that there is an association between the intake of cheese and a decrease in the risk of cardiovascular disease. (15 )
Both kinds of cheese contain equal amounts of potassium. Potassium is known to decrease high blood pressure. Ricotta cheese is higher in calcium compared to cottage cheese. Calcium is known for its blood pressure regulating activities. In short, ricotta and cottage cheeses’ contents may provide cardioprotective benefits.
Both ricotta cheese and cottage cheese are low glycemic index foods and will not cause a spike in blood sugar levels.
Ricotta cheese is much higher in calcium than cottage cheese. Calcium plays a role in the prevention of insulin resistance syndrome (16). High insulin resistance leads to prediabetes. A study showed that increasing the consumption of protein (with cottage cheese as one of the protein sources) decreases hyperglycemia in type two diabetic patients (17).
Therefore, both kinds of cheese and their compounds may help prevent type two diabetes or prediabetes.
Ricotta cheese is higher in selenium which is an antioxidant. Antioxidants protect cells from free-radical damage which may lead to cancer.
The Bill Henderson protocol is a diet rich in fruits vegetables and cottage cheese/flaxseed oil mixture as an approach to treat cancer. There has been varying but uncertain evidence regarding its effectiveness. (18).
Downsides and Risks
Cottage cheese is much higher in sodium than ricotta cheese. Caution should be taken when high amounts are consumed. There is a link between high salt consumption and increased blood pressure which is one of the risk factors for cardiovascular disease (19). The fats present in cottage cheese and ricotta cheese are dairy fats that are not associated with heart disease (20).
A study suggested that increased consumption of calcium and dairy may result in an increased risk of prostate cancer (21).
Cottage cheese and ricotta cheese may contain traces of lactose. This may be dangerous for lactose intolerant individuals. Moreover, people who are allergic to milk proteins found in milk and milk-derived products should be cautious as well and consult their allergist (22).
Both ricotta cheese and cottage cheese are high in vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. Ricotta is higher in calcium, zinc fats and cholesterol, while cottage is higher in sugars and sodium. Some of this is caused by the fact that cottage cheese has slightly higher water content.
Caution should be taken with the high sodium content of these cheeses as well as in the case of allergies. Incorporating them into one’s diet is based on a game of moderation.
Vitamin and Mineral Summary Scores
Comparison summary table
|Lower in Sugar|
|Lower in Sodium|
|Lower in Cholesterol|
|Lower in Saturated Fat|
|Lower in glycemic index|
|Lower in price||Equal|
|Rich in minerals||Equal|
|Rich in vitamins||Equal|
Which food is preferable for your diet?
|Low Calories diet|
|Low Fats diet|
|Low Carbs diet|
|Low glycemic index diet|
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All nutrients comparison - raw data values