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Ricotta vs Cottage cheese - Health impact and Nutrition Comparison

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Article author photo Christelle  Tchakerian by Christelle Tchakerian | Last updated on February 28, 2021
Education: Institute for Integrative Nutrition New York
Ricotta
vs
Cottage cheese

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 cheese is higher in sugars and sodium. Some of this is caused by cottage cheese having a 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 should be in moderation.

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 has been traditionally made in Italy from whey made from sheep’s milk. In order to denature the whey proteins, it 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 to increase the concentration of acid. Rennet is also added to speed up the coagulation process (2). This coagulated product is then cubed and formed into 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.

Minerals

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 contents.

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 Calcium +149.4%
Contains more Iron +442.9%
Contains more Magnesium +37.5%
Contains less Sodium -76.9%
Contains more Zinc +190%
Contains more Copper +38.1%
Equal in Phosphorus - 159
Equal in Potassium - 104
Calcium Iron Magnesium Phosphorus Potassium Sodium Zinc Copper 63% 15% 8% 68% 10% 11% 32% 7%
Calcium Iron Magnesium Phosphorus Potassium Sodium Zinc Copper 25% 3% 6% 69% 10% 48% 11% 10%
Contains more Calcium +149.4%
Contains more Iron +442.9%
Contains more Magnesium +37.5%
Contains less Sodium -76.9%
Contains more Zinc +190%
Contains more Copper +38.1%
Equal in Phosphorus - 159
Equal in Potassium - 104

Vitamins

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 specifically, ricotta cheese is richer in vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin D, vitamin K, and vitamin B2.

Meanwhile, cottage cheese has a comparatively higher content of vitamin B1, vitamin B5, and vitamin B12. Both foods have equal amounts of vitamin B3, vitamin B6, and folate.

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 - 12
Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin C Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Folate Vitamin B12 Vitamin K 27% 3% 6% 0% 4% 45% 2% 13% 10% 9% 43% 3%
Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin C Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Folate Vitamin B12 Vitamin K 9% 2% 3% 0% 7% 38% 2% 34% 11% 9% 54% 0%
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 - 12

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).

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.

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 than cottage cheese. However, in contrast with cottage cheese, ricotta cheese has 3.13 times more polyunsaturated and 4.67 times more monounsaturated fats.

Glycemic Index

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

To find detailed information about the glycemic index of cottage cheese, you can go to this page.

Weight Loss and Diets

More than half the calories found in cottage cheese are contributed by its proteins. Studies have shown that 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 hand, 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 has fewer calories, so it can be one’s go-to cheese if they are counting calories.

Low-fat diets: Cottage cheese is lower in fat and better suitable for low-fat diets.

Low-carb diets: Ricotta cheese is more suitable for low-carb diets as it contains fewer carbohydrates. Moreover, both types of cheeses have an equal glycemic index value which is low and suitable for people with diabetes.

Keto diet: Cottage cheese, similar to ricotta cheese, is somewhat high in carbohydrates and not that high in fats, so it is not an ideal choice in this case. Therefore, portion-watching is essential when consuming these two kinds of cheese while on the keto diet.

DASH diet: This diet entails a low-fat and low-sodium regime. Ricotta cheese is lower in sodium but higher in fat than cottage cheese. So, low-fat and low-sodium versions of these cheeses are acceptable in moderate amounts.

Atkins diet: In some phases of the Atkins diet, high-fat and 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. Furthermore, grass-fed milk acquired from grass-fed cows provides more omega-3 fatty acids. So, grass-fed cottage cheese is recommended (8).

Bodybuilding

Both cottage cheese and ricotta cheese contain essential proteins that play a role in muscle building. One study has shown that increased dairy product intake and higher protein consumption 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 the amino acids into the gut (10).

Cottage cheese is a protein-rich food that is reputable amongst athletes. It is particularly rich in casein. Casein is consumed before sleep to allow the release of amino acids throughout the night and prevent 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 improves appendicular skeletal muscle mass and decreases 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 might be due to the fact that whey is a “fast protein” (14).

Health Impact

Health Benefits

Cardiovascular Health

A metanalysis of 15 prospective studies demonstrated 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 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 protein consumption (with cottage cheese as one of the protein sources) decreases hyperglycemia in type 2 diabetic patients (17).

Therefore, both kinds of cheese and their compounds may help prevent type 2 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).

References

  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
Education: Institute for Integrative Nutrition New York
Last updated: February 28, 2021

Infographic

Ricotta vs Cottage cheese infographic
Infographic link

Comparison summary table

Pay attention to 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 Sugar ok
Lower in Sodium ok
Lower in Cholesterol ok
Lower in Saturated Fat ok
Lower in glycemic index ok
Lower in price Equal
Rich in minerals Equal
Rich in vitamins Equal

All nutrients comparison - raw data values

Nutrient Ricotta Cottage cheese Opinion
Net carbs 3.04g 3.38g Cottage cheese
Protein 11.26g 11.12g Ricotta
Fats 12.98g 4.3g Ricotta
Carbs 3.04g 3.38g Cottage cheese
Calories 174kcal 98kcal Ricotta
Starch g g
Fructose g 0g Cottage cheese
Sugar 0.27g 2.67g Ricotta
Fiber 0g 0g
Calcium 207mg 83mg Ricotta
Iron 0.38mg 0.07mg Ricotta
Magnesium 11mg 8mg Ricotta
Phosphorus 158mg 159mg Cottage cheese
Potassium 105mg 104mg Ricotta
Sodium 84mg 364mg Ricotta
Zinc 1.16mg 0.4mg Ricotta
Copper 0.021mg 0.029mg Cottage cheese
Vitamin A 445IU 140IU Ricotta
Vitamin E 0.11mg 0.08mg Ricotta
Vitamin D 10IU 3IU Ricotta
Vitamin D 0.2µg 0.1µg Ricotta
Vitamin C 0mg 0mg
Vitamin B1 0.013mg 0.027mg Cottage cheese
Vitamin B2 0.195mg 0.163mg Ricotta
Vitamin B3 0.104mg 0.099mg Ricotta
Vitamin B5 0.213mg 0.557mg Cottage cheese
Vitamin B6 0.043mg 0.046mg Cottage cheese
Folate 12µg 12µg
Vitamin B12 0.34µg 0.43µg Cottage cheese
Vitamin K 1.1µg 0µg Ricotta
Tryptophan 0.125mg 0.147mg Cottage cheese
Threonine 0.517mg 0.5mg Ricotta
Isoleucine 0.589mg 0.591mg Cottage cheese
Leucine 1.221mg 1.116mg Ricotta
Lysine 1.338mg 0.934mg Ricotta
Methionine 0.281mg 0.269mg Ricotta
Phenylalanine 0.556mg 0.577mg Cottage cheese
Valine 0.692mg 0.748mg Cottage cheese
Histidine 0.459mg 0.326mg Ricotta
Cholesterol 51mg 17mg Cottage cheese
Trans Fat g g
Saturated Fat 8.295g 1.718g Cottage cheese
Monounsaturated Fat 3.627g 0.778g Ricotta
Polyunsaturated fat 0.385g 0.123g Ricotta

Which food is preferable for your diet?

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

People also compare

Vitamin and Mineral Summary Scores

The summary score is calculated by summing up the daily values contained in 300 grams of the product. Obviously the more the food fulfills human daily needs, the more the summary score is.
Vitamin Summary Score
14
Ricotta
14
Cottage cheese
Mineral Summary Score
26
Ricotta
22
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 food.
Protein
68%
Ricotta
67%
Cottage cheese
Carbohydrates
3%
Ricotta
3%
Cottage cheese
Fats
60%
Ricotta
20%
Cottage cheese

Comparison summary

Which food is lower in Sugar?
Ricotta
Ricotta is lower in Sugar (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?
Cottage cheese
Cottage cheese is lower in glycemic index (difference - 17)
Which food is cheaper?
?
The foods are relatively equal in price ($2)
Which food is richer in minerals?
?
It cannot be stated which food is richer in vitamins. See the charts below for detailed information. See the charts below for detailed information. See the charts below for detailed information.
Which food is richer in vitamins?
?
It cannot be stated which food is richer in vitamins. See the charts below for detailed information. See the charts below for detailed information. See the charts below for detailed information.

References

The source of all the nutrient values on the page (excluding the main article the sources for which are presented separately if present) is the USDA's FoodCentral. The exact links to 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

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.