The case for cottage cheese

Four reasons cottage cheese should be on your next grocery list.

Michigan State University Extension nutrition programs encourage participants in classes to incorporate foods from all five food groups through the MyPlate and USDA recommendation. Consider making cottage cheese a staple in your diet to reach the recommended three cups of dairy a day. Your body, palate and farmers will thank you – here’s why:

Reason 1) High nutrient content. Dairy foods provide five nutrients that work as a team for healthy bone development.

  • Protein: Builds the main frame of bones
  • Minerals: Phosphorus and calcium fill in the bones
  • Vitamins : Potassium neutralizes acids in the body that would harm bones and vitamin D allows calcium to be better absorbed.

Cottage cheese is a real power food with 28 grams of protein (56 percent of the Daily Value (DV) for a 2,000 calorie diet), 138 milligrams of calcium (14 percent DV), 303 milligrams of phosphorus (30 percent DV) and 194 milligrams of potassium (six percent DV). Cottage cheese is also low in cholesterol, a good source of riboflavin (22 percent DV), vitamin B12 (24 percent DV) and selenium (29 percent DV). For more nutrition data read about cottage cheese.

One concern about cottage cheese is the amount of sodium in a serving, which can be as high as 918 milligrams of the total 1,500 milligrams recommended per day, based on the 2010 Dietary Guidelines. Differences in brands and low sodium options are available and reduce the sodium by as much as half in some cases.

Reason 2) Low cost. Cottage cheese is easily paired with a fruit, vegetable or whole grain to make a healthy snack or meal for under $2 a serving.

Reason 3) It’s good any time of the day! Cottage cheese can be enjoyed morning, noon or at night based on your taste and food pairings.

Cottage cheese can also be used to cut calories in recipes like lasagna, try replacing ricotta with cottage cheese. When looking for a lower calorie veggie dip try this combination:

1 cup low-fat cottage cheese

1 cup plain yogurt

2 tablespoons Italian seasoning

2-4 tablespoons parmesan cheese

Mix in a blender and chill an hour or more, serve.

Reason 4) Support state and local agriculture. Stan Moore, MSU Extension says that “Michigan’s dairy industry has evolved significantly over the 18 years, from 1993 to 2010. Dairy farm numbers have decreased from 5,000 in 1993 to 2,230 in 2010. At the same time cattle numbers have increased from 330,000 in 1993 to 358,000 in 2010. Michigan’s dairy industry economic impact has also grown in the state from $732,135,000 in 1997 to $1,411,000,000 in 2010, and has increased in percentage of total cash income received on Michigan farms from 17.7 percent of the total in 1997 to 21.8 percent of the total in 2010.” Recently, Moore and Phil Durst interviewed Dr. John Partridge, food science professor and researcher at MSU on the making of cottage cheese.

Nutrition educators suggest adding cottage cheese to your next grocery list for health, taste, cost and Michigan farmers.

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