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Ask the Experts

Cottage Cheese and Calcium

by Berkeley Wellness  

Q: Why does cottage cheese have so much less calcium than other dairy products?

A: Cottage cheese retains only 25 to 50 percent of the calcium of the milk it is made from, since the curdling process encourages the loss of calcium into the whey, which is then drained. Thus, compared to milk, yogurt, and other cheeses, most cottage cheese is only a modest source of calcium.

  • A four-ounce serving of cottage cheese has 60 to 100 milligrams of calcium—dry curd has only 35.
  • A cup of milk has 300 milligrams.
  • A cup of yogurt has 300 to 400 milligrams.
  • An ounce of most hard cheeses has about 200 milligrams.

Women over 50 and men over 70 should consume 1,200 milligrams a day of calcium; other adults, at least 1,000.

Still, cottage cheese is a healthful food—high in protein and available in tasty low-fat and nonfat versions (which have fewer calories). The main problem with cottage cheese is that it’s very high in sodium—typically 400 to 450 milligrams in 4 ounces. You can buy the “no salt added” variety, but it takes some time getting used to it; it tastes "flat" but does have more cheese flavor. You can add a little salt if you wish, or mix equal amounts of regular and no-salt cottage cheese.

Also see How to Buy Dairy: Milk, Yogurt, and Cheese.