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Ricotta vs Cottage cheese - Health impact and Nutrition Comparison

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Ricotta
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Cottage cheese

INTRODUCTION

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.

TASTE

Ricotta cheese made from starter cultures has a nutty flavor (3). On the other hand, cottage cheese has a mild creamy flavor.

NUTRITION

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.

CALORIES

Ricotta cheese is around 1.78 times higher in calories compared to cottage cheese.

CARBOHYDRATES

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.

PROTEIN

Ricotta cheese is slightly higher in proteins (11.26 g in 100 g) compared to cottage cheese (11.12 g in 100 g).

AMINO ACIDS

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.

GLYCEMIC INDEX

Both ricotta cheese and cottage cheese are equal and low in glycemic index.

FATS

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).



BODYBUILDING

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). 

 

Health Impact

Health Benefits

Cardiovascular Health

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

Diabetes

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.

 

Cancer

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

Cardiovascular Health

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).

Cancer

A study suggested that increased consumption of calcium and dairy may result in an increased risk of prostate cancer (21).

Allergy

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).

SUMMARY

 

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.

 

SOURCES

  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/referencework/9780123744074/encyclopedia-of-dairy-sciences
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B978012384947200132X
  3. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9781845690076500214
  4. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0268005X1630340X#
  5. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0924224414002386
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6627166/
  7. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B978012802168200004X
  8. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/15292698
  9. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21775530/
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC25140/
  11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5952515/
  12. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21367943/
  13. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25258523/
  14. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19589961/
  15. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27517544/
  16. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12514302/
  17. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC524031/
  18. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3257729/#
  19. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1875213613000302
  20. https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/say-cheese
  21. https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/74/4/549/4737495
  22. https://acaai.org/allergies/types-allergies/food-allergy/types-food-allergy/milk-dairy-allergy
Article author photo Christelle  Tchakerian
Profession: Institute for Integrative Nutrition New York
Last updated: March 3, 2021

Infographic

Ricotta vs Cottage cheese infographic
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Mineral Comparison

Mineral comparison score is based on the number of minerals by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" chart below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food
:
Contains more Iron +442.9%
Contains more Calcium +149.4%
Contains more Magnesium +37.5%
Contains more Zinc +190%
Contains less Sodium -76.9%
Contains more Copper +38.1%
Equal in Potassium - 104
Equal in Phosphorus - 159
Contains more Iron +442.9%
Contains more Calcium +149.4%
Contains more Magnesium +37.5%
Contains more Zinc +190%
Contains less Sodium -76.9%
Contains more Copper +38.1%
Equal in Potassium - 104
Equal in Phosphorus - 159

Vitamin Comparison

Vitamin comparison score is based on the number of vitamins by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" chart below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food
:
Contains more Vitamin A +217.9%
Contains more Vitamin E +37.5%
Contains more Vitamin D +100%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +19.6%
Contains more Vitamin K +∞%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +107.7%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +161.5%
Contains more Vitamin B12 +26.5%
Equal in Vitamin B3 - 0.099
Equal in Vitamin B6 - 0.046
Equal in Folate, total - 12
Contains more Vitamin A +217.9%
Contains more Vitamin E +37.5%
Contains more Vitamin D +100%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +19.6%
Contains more Vitamin K +∞%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +107.7%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +161.5%
Contains more Vitamin B12 +26.5%
Equal in Vitamin B3 - 0.099
Equal in Vitamin B6 - 0.046
Equal in Folate, total - 12

Vitamin and Mineral Summary Scores

Summary score is calculated by summing up the daily values contained in 300 grams of the product. Obviously the more the food fulfils human daily needs, the more the summary score is
Vitamin Summary Score
9
Ricotta
8
Cottage cheese
Mineral Summary Score
21
Ricotta
18
Cottage cheese

Macronutrients Comparison

Macronutrient comparison charts compare the amount of protein, total fats and total carbohydrates in 300 grams of the food. The displayed values show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food
Protein
68%
Ricotta
67%
Cottage cheese
Carbohydrates
3%
Ricotta
3%
Cottage cheese
Fats
60%
Ricotta
20%
Cottage cheese

Comparison summary table

Pay attention at the most right column. It shows the amounts side by side, making it easier to realize the amount of difference.
Ricotta Cottage cheese
Lower in Sugars ok
Lower in Sodium ok
Lower in Cholesterol ok
Lower in Saturated Fat ok
Lower in glycemic index Equal
Lower in price Equal
Rich in minerals Equal
Rich in vitamins Equal

Which food is preferable in case of diets?

ok
ok
is better in case of low diet
Ricotta Cottage cheese
Low Calories diet ok
Low Fats diet ok
Low Carbs diet ok
Low glycemic index diet Equal

People also compare

Comparison summary

Which food contains less Sugars?
Ricotta
Ricotta contains less Sugars (difference - 2.4g)
Which food contains less Sodium?
Ricotta
Ricotta contains less Sodium (difference - 280mg)
Which food is lower in Cholesterol?
Cottage cheese
Cottage cheese is lower in Cholesterol (difference - 34mg)
Which food is lower in Saturated Fat?
Cottage cheese
Cottage cheese is lower in Saturated Fat (difference - 6.577g)
Which food is lower in glycemic index?
?
The foods have equal glycemic indexes (27)
Which food is cheaper?
?
The foods are relatively equal in price ($2)
Which food is richer in minerals?
?
It cannot be definitely stated which food is richer in minerals. See charts below for detailed information.
Which food is richer in vitamins?
?
It cannot be definitely stated which food is richer in vitamins. See charts below for detailed information.

All nutrients comparison - raw data values

In the column "Opinion" we made some assumptions which could be controversial. For instance we are assuming that less saturated fats is good for you. Please ignore this column if you have your own opinion.We marked the nutrients, comparison of which we considered as not meaningful, as "N/A"
Nutrient Ricotta Cottage cheese Opinion
Calories 174 98 Ricotta
Protein 11.26 11.12 Ricotta
Fats 12.98 4.3 Ricotta
Vitamin C 0 0
Carbs 3.04 3.38 Cottage cheese
Cholesterol 51 17 Cottage cheese
Vitamin D 10 3 Ricotta
Iron 0.38 0.07 Ricotta
Calcium 207 83 Ricotta
Potassium 105 104 Ricotta
Magnesium 11 8 Ricotta
Sugars 0.27 2.67 Cottage cheese
Fiber 0 0
Copper 0.021 0.029 Cottage cheese
Zinc 1.16 0.4 Ricotta
Starch
Phosphorus 158 159 Cottage cheese
Sodium 84 364 Ricotta
Vitamin A 445 140 Ricotta
Vitamin E 0.11 0.08 Ricotta
Vitamin D 0.2 0.1 Ricotta
Vitamin B1 0.013 0.027 Cottage cheese
Vitamin B2 0.195 0.163 Ricotta
Vitamin B3 0.104 0.099 Ricotta
Vitamin B5 0.213 0.557 Cottage cheese
Vitamin B6 0.043 0.046 Cottage cheese
Vitamin B12 0.34 0.43 Cottage cheese
Vitamin K 1.1 0 Ricotta
Folate, total 12 12
Folic acid (B9) 0 0
Trans Fat
Saturated Fat 8.295 1.718 Cottage cheese
Monounsaturated Fat 3.627 0.778 Ricotta
Polyunsaturated fat 0.385 0.123 Ricotta
Tryptophan 0.125 0.147 Cottage cheese
Threonine 0.517 0.5 Ricotta
Isoleucine 0.589 0.591 Cottage cheese
Leucine 1.221 1.116 Ricotta
Lysine 1.338 0.934 Ricotta
Methionine 0.281 0.269 Ricotta
Phenylalanine 0.556 0.577 Cottage cheese
Valine 0.692 0.748 Cottage cheese
Histidine 0.459 0.326 Ricotta
Fructose 0 Cottage cheese

References

The source of all the nutrient values on the page (excluding the main article the sources for which are presented seperately if present) is the USDA's FoodCentral. The exact links of the foods presented on this page can be found below.

  1. Ricotta - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170851/nutrients
  2. Cottage cheese - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/172179/nutrients

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