If we’re friends on Instagram, you’ll know I’m currently in my cottage cheese era. We always have some on hand. If you’re skeptical of cottage cheese—or haven’t tried it yet—I’m here to (hopefully!) change your mind. Cottage cheese is versatile, nutritious, and relatively mild in flavor. It’s been consumed for centuries. Whether you’re looking to increase your protein intake, manage your blood sugar levels, or simply need lunch ideas, say hello to cottage cheese. It’s a nutrient-packed ingredient, and there are many ways to use it. In this article, we’re exploring why cottage cheese is healthy and how it supports women’s hormones. Plus, get inspired with 10 easy and flavorful cottage cheese lunch recipes.
Health Benefits of Cottage Cheese
Cottage cheese is an excellent source of protein, calcium, and vitamin B12. It is also relatively low in calories and fat, making it a great addition to a well-rounded diet. It’s also naturally gluten-free and vegetarian. Below are a few of the health benefits of cottage cheese.
1. Helps build and repair muscles
Cottage cheese is a complete source of protein, meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids. These are required for building and repairing muscles—making it an ideal ingredient for anyone, especially athletes, pregnant women, and those looking to increase their muscle mass.
2. Promotes bone health
A reliable source of dietary calcium, cottage cheese helps maintain strong bones and teeth. One cup of cottage cheese contains approximately 138 milligrams of calcium, which is about 14% of the recommended daily intake for adults.
3. Supports the immune system
Chock-full of vitamin B12, cottage cheese supports a healthy immune system. Vitamin B12 also helps with the production of red blood cells and DNA—particularly helpful for pregnant women!
4. Aids in weight management
Because it’s high in protein, cottage cheese is a fantastic food to include in your diet (whether or not you’re trying to lose weight). If you choose full-fat cottage cheese, it’s protein and fat content will help keep you full and satisfied. Win, win.
Cottage Cheese is a fantastic Source of Protein
Protein is an essential macronutrient that’s required for building and repairing muscles. We also need it for maintaining healthy skin, hair, and nails. Protein is abundant in plant and animal foods—including cottage cheese. In fact, one cup of cottage cheese contains approximately 28 grams of protein (which is more protein than a chicken breast). Cottage cheese is convenient for kids, athletes, bodybuilders, and anyone looking to increase their lean muscle mass. Additionally, the protein in cottage cheese is easily digestible. Meaning, it can be efficiently used for muscle repair and growth. You can eat it any time of day (even before bed!). Pasteurized cottage cheese is also a great source of protein for pregnant women.
Allergic to lactose? Good Culture makes organic lactose-free cottage cheese!
Blood sugar balance
Blood sugar (also known as blood glucose) refers to the amount of sugar present in our bloodstream. When we digest carbohydrates, they break down into glucose. And this glucose is released into the bloodstream. While we need carbs—as they’re the body’s ideal form of energy—it’s important to balance them with other blood sugar-friendly nutrients. Think: protein, fiber, and healthy fats. Ultimately, the goal is to keep glucose levels within a normal range. After all, constant spikes and dips in blood sugar have both short-term and long-term consequences. Mood swings, energy dips, headaches, and intense cravings can all be tied back to blood sugar imbalance! One of the best foods to keep blood sugar balanced? Cottage cheese.
Why Cottage Cheese Helps Balance Blood Sugar
Cottage cheese is low on the glycemic index, which means it doesn’t cause a rapid blood sugar spike. Given that we want steady blood sugar as often as possible, cottage cheese fits the glucose-friendly bill. It’s high in protein and digests slowly, making it particularly beneficial for those with type 2 diabetes, a hormone imbalance, or anyone needing to manage their blood sugar levels (over 88% of Americans don’t have stable blood sugar). Additionally, cottage cheese contains magnesium. And magnesium has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity, thus helping regulate blood sugar levels.
Want to nerd out on blood sugar? I have you covered.
cottage cheese supports healthy hormones
This goes without saying, but hormones play a vital role in supporting various processes in the body— growth, metabolism, reproduction, etc. In women, our hormones are also responsible for regulating the menstrual cycle and fertility. Unfortunately, hormonal imbalances are more common than not. Thanks to factors like stress, poor nutrition, and environmental toxins, our delicate endocrine system takes a hit (daily). These imbalances can lead to a range of health problems, like irregular periods, acne, mood swings, and weight gain. This is where cottage cheese comes in! It’s packed with hormone-supporting nutrients.
Protein is particularly important for hormone balance as it provides the building blocks for hormone production. As mentioned, cottage cheese contains all of the essential amino acids required for protein synthesis, making it a high-quality protein source.
Calcium is also critical for hormone regulation as it plays a role in the production and release of hormones such as estrogen and progesterone. A diet low in calcium can lead to hormonal imbalances, which can affect various aspects of women’s health.
Furthermore, cottage cheese contains a variety of other nutrients that can support hormone balance. These include vitamin D, which is essential for calcium absorption and plays a role in hormone production, as well as B vitamins, which are necessary for healthy hormone metabolism.
Why should You buy organic dairy?
When making these cottage cheese lunch recipes, opt for organic cottage cheese. Organic dairy products are much better for your body and the planet. They’re produced using sustainable and humane farming practices, prioritizing the well-being of the animals and their environment. These products are free from synthetic hormones and antibiotics, too. On the other hand, conventional dairy products may contain traces of synthetic hormones, such as recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH). This hormone has been linked to various health problems, including disrupting the gut microbiome.
Cottage cheese is a well-rounded, nutritious ingredient that’s worth keeping on hand. It can support hormone balance in women, boost muscle repair and growth, as well as help maintain optimal blood sugar levels. Its high protein and calcium content—as well as other essential nutrients—make it an excellent addition to any diet. When purchasing dairy products, try to choose organic. This will help you avoid exposure to synthetic hormones and support sustainable farming practices. Along with other healthy lifestyle habits, cottage cheese can support your overall health and well-being.
10 Healthy Cottage Cheese Recipes to Make for Lunch
Without further ado, here are 10 healthy cottage cheese lunch recipes. They’re perfect for lunch, a quick dinner, or a savory breakfast. Good Culture makes my favorite organic cottage cheese! I stock up when it’s on sale.
Cottage cheese Caprese salad
Chop up fresh cherry tomatoes and mix them with cottage cheese, fresh basil, sea salt, black pepper, extra-virgin olive oil, and a drizzle of balsamic glaze. For more protein, add shredded chicken on top. Not in the mood for cold tomatoes? Sauté them the leeks.
cottage cheese veggie wrap
Spread a generous amount of cottage cheese and hummus onto a whole-grain wrap and top with sliced veggies, such as cucumber, bell peppers, spinach, sprouts, and avocado. Roll it up and enjoy!
cottage cheese fruit bowl
Mix 1/2 cup of cottage cheese with your choice of chopped fresh fruit, such as berries, apple, or kiwi. Top with keto granola, hemp seeds, and a drizzle of nut butter. Of all the cottage cheese lunch recipes, this one takes no time at all!
Cottage cheese and Tuna salad
Mix 1/2 cup of cottage cheese with a small can of drained wild-caught tuna (sub salmon or chickpeas), chopped celery, capers, sea salt pepper, and lemon juice. Serve over butter lettuce or on a slice of organic rye bread with thinly sliced red onion.
Cottage cheese with grilled veggie skewers
Thread sliced zucchini, bell peppers, button mushrooms, and red onion onto skewers. Grill until tender. Serve with a side of cottage cheese. Not able to grill? Throw these veggies onto a sheet pan and roast in avocado oil until caramelized (about 30 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit). For more protein, add tofu or sliced sausage to the pan.
Cottage cheese SRIRACHA BOWL
Layer cottage cheese with 1-2 soft boiled eggs, sliced avocado, chopped green onion, sesame seeds, black pepper, and a drizzle of sriracha. Optional: side of roasted seaweed.
Cottage Cheese and Prosciutto SALAD
Scoop cottage cheese over a bed of butter lettuce with roasted delicata squash, sea salt, and extra-virgin olive oil. Top with 3-4 slices of prosciutto, pomegranate seeds, and a handful of pita chips. You can swap the prosciutto for baked tofu. To save time, roast the squash ahead of time!
Cottage Cheese GREEK-INSPIRED NACHOS
Cottage Cheese BLT sandwich
Toast two slices of sourdough bread. Spread a thick layer of cottage cheese on one side. Add 2-3 slices cooked nitrate-free bacon (or turkey bacon). Top with butter lettuce, sliced beefsteak tomatoes, and Everything But The Bagel seasoning. Optional: add sliced avocado.
Cottage Cheese and CRUDITÉS
On a plate, add carrots, cucumbers, radish, bell peppers, etc.—serve with cottage cheese, hummus, and seedy crackers. To make this more filling, add a handful of walnuts and olives.
Images courtesy of Unsplash. This article contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting Wellness with Edie. This article is for informational purposes only. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and we recommend that you always consult with your healthcare provider.