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Cottage cheese is a fresh cheese variety, which is considered to be the healthiest amongst all. The use of cottage cheese dates back to the year 1831 but tales of its use date back to the year 3000 BC when it was accidentally discovered. Cottage cheese is one of the most widely used and produced cheese in India and is loved by almost every household. It is the largest source of protein for vegetarians catering in large part to their daily protein requirement.

This type of cheese is usually unprocessed, which makes it a healthier alternative, not only to other varieties of cheese but also to meats. So, cottage cheese is not merely a source of protein for vegetarians, it can actually be a healthy addition to your diet.

Some of the health benefits of cottage cheese include weight loss assistance, lower risk of cardiovascular disorders and reduction of blood pressure and cholesterol. Since it is generally suggested that a plant-based diet is healthier for human health, reducing your consumption of chicken and meat and actually replacing it with cottage cheese on some days may be helpful. It also poses fewer side effects on your health.

Read this article for more information on the benefits and uses of cottage cheese along with its nutritional composition and side effects.

  1. Cottage cheese (paneer) nutrition facts
  2. Paneer (cottage cheese) benefits for health
  3. Paneer recipe: Grilled paneer salad
  4. Cottage cheese side effects

Cottage cheese is one of the richest sources of protein and calcium, which make for a major part of its nutritional value. But that’s not all it has. Let’s have a look at the nutritional composition of cottage cheese as per the USDA database:

Nutrients and value per 100 gram

Ever thought a food as delectable as paneer could have multiple benefits for your health? As many are the number of ways in which paneer can be cooked, are its benefits. Let’s have a look at them.

Cottage cheese protein

Cottage cheese is inevitably one of the richest sources of proteins. Proteins are an important dietary component and must constitute 10 to 35% in a balanced diet. Why is it important to include proteins in your diet is because your body cannot synthesise or even store it as much as it stores carbohydrates or fats, which makes it essential to be included in the daily diet.

Protein is needed for optimal functioning of the body and is required by every cell for the maintenance of its structure. Since protein is continuously required for the maintenance of your hair, skin, bone cells and muscles, it is important that you eat the right type and amount of proteins. This means that you include a variety of protein sources in your diet since one particular source cannot provide you with all required amino acids. Cottage cheese is one such source, which must be consumed in combination with other protein-based sources. If you are a vegetarian, there generally are limited sources of proteins, which is why you must not ignore the rich protein source that cottage cheese is and ensure its inclusion in your diet.

Cottage cheese for weight loss

Losing weight is one of the most common modern-day concerns owing to unhealthy diet and sedentary lifestyle. While calorie reduction and an increase in physical activity is the key to lose weight, you need to derive your nutrition from the right sources and not just fill up your daily calories with unhealthy foods of choice. Cottage cheese can be one such food which may help in weight loss. Not only is it a healthy food but also it may enhance your weight loss process assisting you in shedding those pounds quickly. This is because cottage cheese is a rich source of protein, the macronutrient associated with ample weight loss benefits. It facilitates the oxidation of fats, which helps you lose body weight faster.

Good calcium content is another weight loss perk that paneer has. Researchers have found that the inclusion of high dairy foods, which are rich in calcium, facilitated more weight loss than calorie restriction alone. When compared with the calorie restriction group, participants in the dairy group had a more fat loss from the region of the trunk. So, it can be ascertained that the intake of cottage cheese will not only help you with weight loss but will also assist you in reducing waist circumference.

Further, it improves your muscle mass giving you a more shapely look as you continue to shed pounds. The inclusion of proteins in the diet is more important for individuals who exercise as it helps to maintain their muscle mass. What’s more is that the intake of proteins like cottage cheese is associated with better exercise performance.

While there can be other sources of proteins like chicken and meat, they are generally higher in calories and must thus be consumed in limited amounts. With cottage cheese, you don’t need to worry much about the caloric intake and can focus on your weight loss goals. 

(Read more: What to eat and what not to eat to lose weight)

Cottage cheese for blood pressure management

Having a chronically high blood pressure may or may not have its own symptoms, but it definitely has a detrimental impact on your health, particularly that of your heart. High blood pressure is one of the most significant risk factors for cardiovascular disorders and thus its management is imperative. As grave a matter of concern elevated blood pressure levels are, it can actually be controlled with the help of dietary and lifestyle measures, which helps modify your risk.

The inclusion of cottage cheese in your diet by substituting it for red meats, chicken and other types of non-vegetarian products can be one healthy decision to make towards lowering blood pressure. This is because it has been suggested that a plant-based diet describes an ideal approach to managing blood pressure. However, the inclusion of proteins has also been considered to be important for hypertensives. And what better vegetarian source of protein than cottage cheese?

While you are making some changes in your diet, it is also recommended that you increase the intake of cottage cheese and other protein sources and reduce the consumption of carbohydrates. This is because replacing carbohydrates with proteins and thereby increasing the intake of proteins has been evidenced to be better for blood pressure management.

Also, if you had been consuming other varieties of cheese like cheddar, parmesan or some types of processed cheese, it is advisable that you switch over to cottage cheese to keep your blood pressure in check. This is because cottage cheese, in addition to being an unprocessed type of cheese, is lower in sodium, a mineral that leads to increased blood pressure when present in excess in your body.

(Read more: Diet for high blood pressure patients)

Cottage cheese for diabetes

Elevated blood glucose levels are associated with several health complications if diabetes is inadequately managed. So, it is important for diabetics to keep their blood glucose levels in check.

Inadvertently, diet has a major role in the management of diabetes. While there is a whole list of foods that you must avoid including starch and sugars, there are some foods which can actually be helpful. Studies have found that the inclusion of cottage cheese in the diet may help in this management as it functions to stabilise blood sugar levels after a meal. It also helps improve satiety index and keeps you from splurging on food. With polyphagia (increased intake of food) being one of the pronounced symptoms of diabetes, the intake of cottage cheese may actually help.

Further, studies also suggest that low-fat dairy products like cottage cheese aid in the control of insulin resistance thereby improving tissue response to insulin and keeping your blood sugar levels in check.

Paneer (cottage cheese) for the heart

Diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure are the most significant risk factors for cardiovascular disorders. By managing these risk factors, cottage cheese certainly has a protective effect on your heart. It is also lower in fats and cholesterol as compared to other sources of proteins. While some studies suggest that the intake of cottage cheese helps to lower the risk of cardiovascular disorders, the results are still not convincing.

(Read more: Heart disease treatment)

Paneer during pregnancy

Pregnancy is one of the most awaited time for a woman, but, it is also associated with concerns relating to individual health and that of the foetus. It is true that diet makes an integral part of a healthy pregnancy. So, it is important that you take utmost care of your diet and ensure to consume the right amount of nutrition for healthy weight gain. Cottage cheese or paneer is one such food that you must not miss.

Studies suggest that an increased intake of proteins during pregnancy is essential for the growth of the foetus and its deficiency can lead to low birth weight. Although it is important to increase protein consumption, it is also suggested that you limit the intake of processed meats, eggs, fish and raw milk during pregnancy due to the risk of salmonella infection, which can hamper the health of the foetus. Some types of cheese may also not be considered to be safe; however, cottage cheese is safe to consume during pregnancy as it is usually home cooked and unprocessed. But make sure, you do not eat it raw and cook it properly before eating.

Salad is an easy and healthy way of including cottage cheese in your diet. Here is what you can do to make a paneer salad at home:

  • Take a large block of cottage cheese and place it on a preheated grill
  • Toast the paneer until you see brown lines on both the sides
  • Cut toasted paneer in bite-size pieces
  • Now, take your favourite salad ingredients like lettuce, broccoli, zucchini, etc and add it to the grilled paneer
  • Top with oregano and salt to taste
  • Enjoy your salad warm or let it cool down before you eat.

While paneer is a healthy food, it sure has some side effects. Let us have a look at them.

  • Since paneer is a rich source of proteins, an increased intake can cause digestive issues like diarrhoea and stomach upset.
  • While you consume paneer, it is recommended that you opt for low-fat varieties since excessive consumption of high-fat foods may cause weight gain.
  • It is also recommended that you opt for homemade paneer since it will have a lower sodium content. Processed, high sodium versions of the cheese may cause elevated blood pressure.
  • Some individuals who are lactose intolerant should be careful before consuming cottage cheese. Although it has a lower content of lactose, cottage cheese is not lactose-free and may cause symptoms of intolerance like bloating, abdominal cramps and diarrhoea.
  • Excessive consumption of dairy products like paneer may increase the risk of certain types of cancer like testicular cancer, breast cancer and ovarian cancer. So, it is recommended to not consume it in excess, especially if you have a positive family history for any type of cancer.
  • Some people may develop allergic reactions to paneer if they are generally allergic to milk and milk products. (Read more: Allergy symptoms)
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References

  1. United States Department of Agriculture. Basic Report: 01012, Cheese, cottage, creamed, large or small curd. National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Legacy Release; Agricultural Research Service
  2. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia: US National Library of Medicine; Dietary Proteins
  3. Murphy KJ, Crichton GE, Dyer KA, Coates AM, Pettman TL, Milte C, Thorp AA, Berry NM, Buckley JD, Noakes M, Howe PR. Dairy Foods and Dairy Protein Consumption Is Inversely Related to Markers of Adiposity in Obese Men and Women. 2013 Nov 20;5(11):4665-84. PMID: 24264228
  4. Hoffman JR, Falvo MJ.Protein – Which is Best?. 2004 Sep 1;3(3):118-30. PMID: 24482589
  5. Marsset-Baglieri A, Fromentin G, Nau F, Airinei G, Piedcoq J, Rémond D, Barbillon P, Benamouzig R, Tomé D, Gaudichon C.The satiating effects of eggs or cottage cheese are similar in healthy subjects despite differences in postprandial kinetics.. 2015 Jul;90:136-43. PMID: 25772196
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