Cottage Cheese and Diabetes: What To Snack for People With Diabetes?
Often, experts say people with diabetes should avoid snacks. This is because most snacks are unhealthy. They tend to have high amounts of carbs with lots of added sugars and fat, which is bad for blood sugar control and management of diabetes. However, cottage cheese is one great snack that people with diabetes can enjoy.
Substituting carbohydrates with protein-rich foods and healthy fats is an excellent dietary plan for managing diabetes. Cottage cheese is highly nutritious with very little sugar and carbs, making it a good choice for people with diabetes. It contains significant amounts of proteins. Also, it has a bland flavor, which easily combines with many of your favorites.
This article comprehensively discusses all you need to know about cottage cheese before deciding it's a good option to include in your diet.
- Protein 11 g
- Carbohydrate 3.4 g
- Fat 4.3 g
- Fiber 0 g
- Sugar 2.7 g
- Cholesterol 17 g
What is Cottage Cheese
Cottage cheese is a soft, creamy, mildly flavored cheese appearing like small white snowballs. Often, it has this soupy, heterogeneous texture. It also goes by the following name - paneer, whey, or curds. Cottage cheese is fresh cheese - that is, it has yet to undergo any aging or ripening process, which is what accounts for its mild flavor.
Like all cheese forms, cottage cheese is made from the curd of cow's milk by draining the cheese but retaining parts of the whey. The process uses different levels of pasteurized milk and curds of various sizes.
Cottage cheese comes in different varieties - whipped, creamed, lactose-free and sodium-free. In the making of this snack, there are a couple of recipes. However, most recipes require these four major ingredients: skimmed milk, vinegar, salt, and cream.
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Nutritional Facts of Cottage Cheese
Cottage cheese has lots of nutrients, especially proteins. Unlike most dairy foods containing carbs, especially lactose, this snack has minimal sugars, which gives it a high protein to carbohydrate ratio. It is said to contain all nine essential amino acids required for the human body to function properly.
The table below shows the nutritional stats of a 100-gram serving of cottage cheese, according to the FDA.
Water 79.8 g
Proteins 11.1 g
Total fat content 4.3 g
Carbohydrates 3.38 g
Fibers 0 g
Total sugars 2.67 g
Sodium 315 mg
Calcium 83 mg
Phosphorus 159 mg
Potassium 104 mg
Many people enjoy cheese cottage as a snack due its nice taste and the healthy calories and low fat content. Most calories are from proteins, which is a good source - calories from proteins are less fattening than fats and carbs.
The carbs in cheese cottage are minimal, accounting for just about 3 percent. It is important to note that it is from lactose (milk sugar). Therefore, individuals with lactose intolerance need to avoid it.
Also, note that it contains sodium, among other essential minerals. Hypertensive patients and those with other cardiovascular disorders may need to request the low sodium variant to reduce sodium intake, which may be detrimental to their heart health.
Health Benefits of Cottage Cheese
Cottage cheese is highly nutritious for all, except for those unable to digest milk. As a result, inclusion in one's diet will provide many benefits. However, let's first discuss how it can influence the condition of diabetes patients.
Blood Sugar Lowering Properties
Cottage cheese may possess blood sugar-reducing properties that are critical for people battling diabetes. Often, we say people with diabetes should avoid eating snacks, but you see, cottage cheese is a diabetes-friendly snack.
Research suggests that consuming this snack with other foods reduces the expected sugar levels after eating.
Improve Insulin Sensitivity
Insulin resistance remains the hallmark of type 2 diabetes. Calcium, present in all dairy products, is linked with reducing insulin resistance. Cottage cheese contains significant calcium - about 11 percent of the recommended daily value. A report from PubMed suggests that daily consumption of dairy foods can lower the insulin resistance syndrome by 21 percent.
Enhances Weight Loss
Obese and overweight individuals have a higher risk of having diabetes, primarily type 2. Generally, as the body mass index increases, the chances of getting diabetes also increase. It is best to maintain optimal body weight for optimum health.
Often diets specifically for weight loss purposes contain cottage cheese. Essentially, a high protein is highly recommended by experts when looking to cut down weight; it has moderate amounts of calories.
Casein, the chief protein in milk and a primary component of cheese cottage, promotes satiety. This may account for a reduction in a person's intake of more calories, as you feel full and not hungry. As you take cottage cheese for weight management, endeavor to exercise for the best outcomes.
May Prevent Heart Disease
Heart disease is a major complication of diabetes. That said, cottage cheese indeed contains sodium which may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, especially high blood pressure. However, there is a sodium-free variant of this snack.
Moreover, it contains other nutrients like potassium, essential for protecting the heart. This mineral plays a role in every heartbeat. It also plays a role in the normal functioning of the kidneys.
Cottage cheese has some other benefits besides those concerning diabetes. Below is a couple of them:
Improved Bone Strength
Calcium is an essential component of milk. As mentioned earlier, cottage cheese accounts for about 11 percent of the daily dietary calcium. Foods rich in calcium are known to strengthen bones. Moreover, this snack contains other essential minerals like phosphorus, which is critical for bone health. The deficiency of calcium is what leads to osteoporosis - weak bones.
Enhances Muscle Building
Cottage cheese is a typical snack among athletes and sportspersons. Essentially, proteins are termed body-building foods, so if you are looking to bulk up your muscle mass, you need to include cottage cheese into your diet. Eating this snack before bed is said to yield the best outcomes. It releases amino acids into your blood and muscles, preventing muscle breakdown during sleep.
May Possess Antioxidant Activities
Selenium, a trace mineral present in cheese cottage, has been said to possess potent antioxidant properties. This snack contains more than 30 percent of the daily amounts of selenium needed by the body. Antioxidants protect the body against harmful free radicals linked to several forms of cancers.
Cheese cottage is also rich in vitamin B-complex, essential to many body activities such as energy synthesis, proper brain functioning, metabolism, synthesis of blood cells, etc.
What Does Research Say About Cottage Cheese and Diabetes
The American Diabetes Association lists cottage cheese as one snack you can take. Since cottage cheese uses skimmed milk - it contains less reduced fats. However, like many other foods, your portion size is essential - eating in moderation is vital. Cheese cottage is highly nutritious, with lots of proteins and minerals that are beneficial to the health of all, including people with diabetes.
A study suggests eating a food high in protein with carbohydrates. For example, cottage cheese with a significant protein to carbohydrate ratio will lower blood sugar levels and postprandial glucose. It also caused a considerable increase in insulin concentration, enabling better blood glucose control.
Another report suggests that a diet high in milk can reduce the risks of childhood obesity and improve overall body composition. These two factors may be crucial in preventing diabetes, especially type 2. Essentially, cheese and other dairy foods help regulate blood sugar, thereby reducing the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disorders.
Cottage Cheese and Healthy Blood Sugar Levels
We have earlier mentioned that foods rich in proteins like cottage cheese can help reduce blood glucose levels in healthy individuals and those with type 2 diabetes. Maintaining a healthy diet, coupled with lifestyle changes, appears to be critical in regulating blood sugar levels and managing diabetes.
Studies show that milk protein may assist in properly metabolizing glucose and fat in food. Generally, when carbs are replaced in food with extra protein or fats, there tends to be an improved metabolism, which results in lowering blood sugar levels. It also aids in healthy weight maintenance. Proteins provide this feeling of fullness that makes you feel satisfied for extended periods.
Experts often recommend replacing carbs with proteins, fat, and fibers when making dietary modifications. Fruits, too, are a good option to include in your diet. Cottage cheese is primarily bland, so you can always combine it with fruits, salad, or fiber-rich foods to gain more nutrients.
How to Include Cottage Cheese Into Your Diet
This diabetes-friendly snack has a mild flavor, making it compatible with various meals and recipes. Below are ways to enjoy this snack:
Blend a few spoonfuls with fruits for an enriched protein smoothie.
You can add it to eggs to give it this unique extra cream.
Add it to salad dressings to give a creamy base and to provide extra proteins and healthy fats.
Add to your sandwich recipe.
You could just use it as the base for a sauce for various meals to provide an extra creamy flavor.
Use for toast - it offers cream and protein.
Add fresh fruits as toppings.
Cottage Cheese vs. Other Dairy Products
All dairy products are rich in proteins. However, depending on the proceedings and ingredients used in the production of each product, the nutritional value varies, especially fats and carbs.
Let's take a quick look at how cottage cheese measures with yogurt and cream cheese.
Yogurt is an everyday snack. However, it's not a good choice for people with diabetes, as it still contains lots of carbs - lactose; most yogurts even contain extra sugars. Plain Greek yogurt appears to be the exception. Like cottage cheese, it has a high protein-to-carb ratio. It even has less fat - it's unlikely to cause blood sugar spikes.
A 100-gram serving size of plain yogurt contains 3.5 grams sugar, 9.9 grams of proteins, and 1.9 grams of total fats. This snack is a good option for people with diabetes, as it provides significant amounts of proteins, calcium, and probiotics.
Cream cheese is also a low-carb meal with just a few amounts of lactose. It does not really affect blood sugar levels, so people with diabetes can eat it. However, it should be kept minimal, as cream cheese is rich in fat, which may increase body weight and cholesterol levels - risk factors for diabetes, cardiovascular disease, etc.
A 100-gram serving of cream cheese contains about the same amount of plain yogurt at 3.4 grams. It has less protein than cottage cheese and plain yogurt, at 6.1 grams. However, the major downside to this snack is its high amounts of fat, which account for 34.4 percent.
Risks of Eating Cottage Cheese
We have discussed the numerous benefits of cottage cheese, but what are its downsides? Let's briefly look at some of the risks of taking cottage cheese.
Individuals with lactose intolerance - inability to properly digest lactose, may need to steer clear of cottage cheese. Lactose is the sugar in milk, also present in cottage cheese. After all, it's a product of milk.
Also, since it is fresh and not aged like some other dairy products, it contains a significant amount of this sugar. Should these individuals take this snack, they will experience digestive difficulties.
This is sometimes called dairy allergy. It is when the body develops immune responses to dairy products. The body reacts against cow milk's proteins (casein and whey), causing allergic reactions. That said, individuals with this allergy won't be able to tolerate cottage cheese, as these proteins are chiefly present in the snack.
Also, like in other foods, eating in moderation is critical. Calcium, a common mineral in dairy foods, has been linked to an increase in the risks of prostate cancer.
How to Prepare Cottage Cheese
Preparing cottage cheese is pretty simple; you can make yours from the comfort of your home. You just need to have all the necessary ingredients, mainly your milk, cream, salt, and vinegar.
The preparation methods include:
Pour your milk into a suitable container, apply heat, and continue to stir with a wooden spoon. Don't let it boil!
Leave it to cool for a few minutes.
Acidify the milk with vinegar. You could use lime juice; just make sure you use a suitable acidic substance. What you have after this is curdled milk.
Once the curd solidifies, it separates into two portions: the curd and whey - the liquid portion of the milk.
Rinse and crumble the curd to reduce the acidity and drain the liquid. What you have after this is cottage cheese.
You can then add a pinch of salt to taste.
Add the cream to give it a rich, smooth feel.
You may also add herbs, spices, or other choice ingredients to increase its mild, bland flavor.
Alternatives to Cottage Cheese
Though, experts often inform diabetes patients that snacks are off-limits. This is because most are often unhealthy, containing lots of carbs and fats, which may be detrimental to diabetes. However, this article has established, with credible reasons, that cottage cheese and a couple of other dairy products are good snacks for people with diabetes. They aid in maintaining a healthy blood sugar level.
But still, those allergic to milk cannot enjoy cottage cheese. Likewise, those that generally don't like dairy foods. So, what other snacks can someone with diabetes enjoy?
Below is a list of dairy-free snacks beneficial to diabetes patients:
Eggs, preferably hard-boiled
Trail mix, etc.
Cottage cheese is a highly nutritious meal, even for people with diabetes. It has reduced sugar and fats compared to many other dairy products, which makes it a good addition to one’s diet for weight loss and diabetes management.
Besides its high amounts of beneficial nutrients, it also possesses blood sugar lowering properties and stimulates the body's insulin production. However, like every other food, it must be eaten in moderation. Also, ensure that the cottage cheese you consume is devoid of added sugar and other additives detrimental to your condition.
Ultimately, it is crucial to work closely with your dietitian whenever you intend to include any new food in your dietary plan. This is because there is no perfect food combination that works for everyone. Another good option is to use a suitable diabetes management app like Klinio. The app assists you in tracking exercises and blood sugar levels. They are a good option for monitoring your condition.
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