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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 May 28, 2023
Medically reviewed by Astghik Grigoryan Article author photo Astghik Grigoryan
Ricotta
vs
Cottage cheese

Summary

Both ricotta cheese and cottage cheese are high in vitamins, minerals, and nutrients.

Ricotta is higher in calcium, zincfats, 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 contentbenefits, 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 ironcalciummagnesiumzinc, 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" charts 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 Manganese +200%
Contains more Selenium +49.5%
Contains more Copper +38.1%
Equal in Phosphorus - 159
Equal in Potassium - 104
Calcium Iron Magnesium Phosphorus Potassium Sodium Zinc Copper Manganese Selenium 63% 15% 8% 68% 10% 11% 32% 7% 1% 80%
Calcium Iron Magnesium Phosphorus Potassium Sodium Zinc Copper Manganese Selenium 25% 3% 6% 69% 10% 48% 11% 10% 1% 53%
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 Manganese +200%
Contains more Selenium +49.5%
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 Avitamin Evitamin D, vitamin K, and vitamin B2.

Meanwhile, cottage cheese has a comparatively higher content of vitamin B1vitamin B5, and vitamin B12. Both foods have equal amounts of vitamin B3vitamin 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" charts 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
Equal in Choline - 18.4
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%
Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin C Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Folate Vitamin B12 Choline Vitamin K 9% 2% 3% 0% 7% 38% 2% 34% 11% 9% 54% 11% 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
Equal in Choline - 18.4

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 tryptophanisoleucinephenylalanine, and valine. On the other hand, ricotta cheese is richer in threonine, leucine, lysinemethionine, 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

Researchers found that ricotta consumption could lower LDL (bad cholesterol) levels in the blood, which is crucial for people with high blood pressure and those who have had a myocardial infarction (15). This effect is unknown for cottage cheese. In addition, one study suggested that replacing animal fat with dairy fat may reduce cardiovascular disease risk (16.17).

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.

Ricotta and cottage cheese contain peptides that may inhibit ACE (the angiotensin-converting enzyme) like some medications (Captopril, Lisinopril, etc.), which may reduce blood pressure and have remodeling properties (prevent and reduce negative processes occurring in the myocardium and blood vessels) (18.19.20.21).

In short, ricotta and cottage cheeses’ contents may provide cardioprotective benefits. But it should be noted that 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 (22).

In addition, cheeses containing tyramine (including ricotta and cottage cheese) may cause a hypertensive crisis (blood pressure of 180/120 mm Hg or higher; a hypertensive crisis is a life-threatening medical condition; it can result in a heart attack, stroke, or other potentially fatal health complications) in patients taking MAO inhibitors (particularly antidepressants). It should be noted that ricotta and cottage cheese have lower levels of tyramine than other cheeses (23).

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 (24). 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 (25).

Therefore, both kinds of cheese and their compounds may help prevent type 2 diabetes or prediabetes.

Cancer

According to these studies, ricotta and cottage cheese consumption may decrease the risk of bread cancer. Ricotta cheese is higher in selenium, which is an antioxidant. Antioxidants protect cells from free-radical damage, which may lead to cancer (26.27).

This study suggests that dairy foods (including ricotta and cottage cheese) may lower the risk of colorectal cancer (28). However, not all research shows that dairy products provide a protective advantage (29). Further research is needed to better understand these mechanisms.

In addition, this study suggested that increased consumption of calcium and dairy may result in an increased risk of prostate cancer (30).

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 (31).

Bone Health

The calcium, protein, potassium, and phosphorus found in dairy products (including these ones) are essential for the normal functioning of bone tissue.

A comparison of dairy foods and calcium supplements shows that dairy foods have a greater impact on bone health. A study in postmenopausal women found that those given dairy had greater improvements in arm, pelvis, spine, and total-body bone mineral density (BMD) than those given calcium supplements (32).

During the first few years of menopause, bone loss can be as high as 3-5% per year, and thereafter it can be as low as 1%. While bone loss in men is slower and more linear, osteoporosis can develop in men as they age. After the age of 50, the risk of osteoporosis grows significantly. Adequate dietary intake of calcium and protein will help prevent bone loss in the elderly (32).

Downsides and Risks

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 (33).

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://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/13/2/593
  16. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27517544/
  17. https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/say-cheese
  18. https://www.mdpi.com/2304-8158/10/11/2573
  19. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0308814604004200
  20. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18843651/
  21. https://www.escardio.org/Guidelines/Clinical-Practice-Guidelines/Arterial-Hypertension-Management-of
  22. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1875213613000302
  23. https://europepmc.org/article/med/3283290
  24. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12514302/
  25. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC524031/
  26. https://www.jstor.org/stable/45051334
  27. https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/13/12/4420
  28. https://academic.oup.com/jnci/article/96/13/1015/2520826
  29. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Joanne-Lupton/publication/13872093_Dairy_products_and_colon_cancer_mechanisms_of_the_protective_effect/links/0046351647a59e93ae000000/Dairy-products-and-colon-cancer-mechanisms-of-the-protective-effect.pdf
  30. https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/74/4/549/4737495
  31. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3257729/#
  32. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00223-015-0062-x
  33. 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: May 28, 2023
Medically reviewed by Astghik Grigoryan

Infographic

Ricotta vs Cottage cheese infographic
Infographic link

Macronutrient Comparison

Macronutrient breakdown side-by-side comparison
Contains more Fats +201.9%
Contains more Carbs +11.2%
Contains more Water +11.3%
Contains more Other +38.2%
Equal in Protein - 11.12
11% 13% 3% 72%
Protein: 11.26 g
Fats: 12.98 g
Carbs: 3.04 g
Water: 71.7 g
Other: 1.02 g
11% 4% 3% 80%
Protein: 11.12 g
Fats: 4.3 g
Carbs: 3.38 g
Water: 79.79 g
Other: 1.41 g
Contains more Fats +201.9%
Contains more Carbs +11.2%
Contains more Water +11.3%
Contains more Other +38.2%
Equal in Protein - 11.12

Fat Type Comparison

Fat type breakdown side-by-side comparison
Contains more Monounsaturated Fat +366.2%
Contains more Polyunsaturated fat +213%
Contains less Saturated Fat -79.3%
67% 29% 3%
Saturated Fat: 8.295 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 3.627 g
Polyunsaturated fat: 0.385 g
66% 30% 5%
Saturated Fat: 1.718 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 0.778 g
Polyunsaturated fat: 0.123 g
Contains more Monounsaturated Fat +366.2%
Contains more Polyunsaturated fat +213%
Contains less Saturated Fat -79.3%

Comparison summary table

Pay attention to the rightmost column. It displays the amounts side by side, giving a clearer understanding of the difference.
Ricotta Cottage cheese
Lower in Sugar ok
Lower in Sodium ok
Rich in minerals ok
Lower in Cholesterol ok
Lower in Saturated Fat ok
Lower in Glycemic Index ok
Lower in price 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
Sugar 0.27g 2.67g Ricotta
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
Manganese 0.006mg 0.002mg Ricotta
Selenium 14.5µg 9.7µg Ricotta
Vitamin A 445IU 140IU Ricotta
Vitamin A RAE 120µg 37µg Ricotta
Vitamin E 0.11mg 0.08mg Ricotta
Vitamin D 10IU 3IU Ricotta
Vitamin D 0.2µg 0.1µg Ricotta
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
Choline 17.5mg 18.4mg 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
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

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
13%
Ricotta
14%
Cottage cheese
Minerals Daily Need Coverage Score
29%
Ricotta
23%
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 richer in minerals?
Ricotta
Ricotta is relatively richer in minerals
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 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

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. 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.