Can You Eat Cottage Cheese When Pregnant? Is It Safe?

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Written by Gina Wagg BA, Dip.

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Cottage cheese has some benefits when eaten as a pregnancy-friendly food.

You can eat this cheese on its own or as part of a spread, and we’ll look at those and other options here.

Eating cottage cheese when pregnant is safe as long as it has been pasteurized. You can also cook it in various dishes to enjoy a cheesy flavor as well as enjoy its nutritional benefits.

There are some types of this cheese that are healthier than others, and we’ll run through those in this article, too.

Is Cottage Cheese Safe During Pregnancy?

Cottage cheese is safe to eat during pregnancy as long as it has been pasteurized (Source: NHS). Most commercial cottage cheeses are safe, as these either pasteurize the cheese or use pasteurized milk.

This cheese that isn’t pasteurized, or that is made with raw milk, shouldn’t be eaten when you’re pregnant as the risk of listeria contamination is greatly increased (source: FoodSafetyNews).

Storage is really important to prevent contamination AFTER you’ve opened the tub of it, too.

It is usually eaten cold, which is fine as long as you are eating it fairly soon after taking it out of the refrigerator.

You can also eat it cooked: it can be used in pasta sauces, quiches, savory pancakes, and bread, to name just a few ideas.

When cooked, it tends to melt and disappear into whatever you are cooking, giving your food a creamy or moist texture with its subtle flavor.

cottage cheese

Can I Eat Cultured Cottage Cheese When Pregnant?

Technically speaking, all cottage cheese is ‘cultured’.

You may find some store brands that advertise their cottage cheese as ‘cultured’ with ‘added probiotics’, but all of them have had cultured milk or cream added to the curds, and all are safe to eat when pasteurized.

The only safety consideration you might want to take into account is whether the cheese has come from a homemade culture – in which case you might want to be careful.

Some people successfully make homemade cottage cheese with cultured buttermilk (the traditional recipe) and other kinds of milk.

If these milks are store-bought, they will be pasteurized, but these homemade fermented foods carry a greater risk of becoming contaminated with harmful bacteria growing at the same time as the healthy bacteria (Source: ISA).

If you want to make your own homemade cottage cheese, you need to be very careful with temperature and time controls as well as cleanliness and the sterilization of equipment.

If you don’t have experience in fermenting foods at home, you would be better off to wait to experiment until after your pregnancy.

Is Cottage Cheese Pasteurized?

In most instances, cottage cheese is pasteurized if it’s been factory-made. This is the type you’ll most commonly see sold in supermarkets or other stores.

It is made by adding an acid to pasteurized milk. The acid separates the milk solids from the whey when the cheese is pressed, leaving the curds behind. The curds are then cooked more to remove even more whey.

Unlike other cheeses, it is not aged. The grains of curd are usually mixed with a type of ‘dressing’, which in most cases is pasteurized cream.

Most types of cheese – including cottage cheese – are pasteurized in the US and many other countries.

Milk that has not been through the heat treatment process that is a part of pasteurization can contain e.coli, listeria bacteria, campylobacter, or salmonella bacteria listeria (Source: CDC). The FDA has therefore prohibited the sale of raw milk in the US.

Just be aware that US farmer’s markets may sell homemade cheeses that could be made from raw unpasteurized milk, so check the label or ask the supplier before buying.

Similarly, you’ll find that cheeses in Australia and in the UK are made with pasteurized milk for the same preventative reasons.

The most likely source of unpasteurized cheeses is in some European countries, and in particular, in France.

Soft cheeses in France are not likely to have been made with pasteurized milk, so again, you’re better off checking the label or with the seller directly.

Milk products such as cheese, cream, and other dairy foods in European countries do not usually meet FDA requirements for milk safety (Source: CANR).

cottage cheese topped with fruit

Pasteurized Cottage Cheese Brands That Are Pregnancy-Safe

Here is a list of some of the healthiest pasteurized cottage cheese brands that you can find in your local supermarket:

  • Nancy’s Organic Whole Milk Cottage Cheese
  • Good Culture Low-Fat Cottage Cheese
  • 365 Organic Cottage Cheese 4 Percent Milkfat
  • Daisy Cottage Cheese 4 Percent Milkfat
  • Wegmans Organic 2 Percent Cottage Cheese

The above brands contain fewer additives than some other popular brands.

They also tend to contain less sodium on average – other brands can contain as much as 450 mg of sodium per ½ cup serving.

You want to aim for brands with the least amount of sodium and additives possible as part of a healthy pregnancy diet.

The Benefits of Cottage Cheese During Pregnancy

According to the USDA, there are three types of cottage cheese: regular, low-fat or reduced-fat, and nonfat (also called ‘dry curd’), so the benefits can depend on which you choose.

Where possible, it’s good to opt for lower sodium and lower fat options when you’re pregnant, or eat the full-fat versions in moderation.

You can also buy whipped, sodium-free, and lactose-free cottage cheese.

There are many flavors, too, such as pineapple – but check the labels of these types of cottage cheese to avoid consuming too much sugar.

Some added ingredients, such as smoked salmon, might not be suitable for pregnant women, so if there’s anything else added to it, it’s best to cross-check the ingredients.

Regular cottage cheese must have a minimum of 4 percent milk fat (Source: USDA), with a ½ cup serving containing around 100 to 120 calories, of which 40 to 50 are from fat.

The amount of fat in it is quite low. The fat content per ½ cup is about 5g, or 8 percent of the RDA of total fat.

The same serving of it has 12.6 grams of protein, which is 25% of the RDA for an average adult (Source: MyFoodData).

grilled zucchini with cottage cheese stuffing

It is also relatively low in carbohydrates, with 3.8 grams per serving, and is particularly rich in phosphorus and calcium.

Calcium plays various roles in the development of the fetus, including tissue construction and cell signaling as well as the development of bones (Source: JCDR).

Phosphorus is important for tissue and cell repair, muscle contractions, and kidney function, among other things. Phosphorus also works together with calcium to build strong bones (Source: MerrionFetalHealth).

Other types of cottage cheese can have reduced fat, so anywhere from 0.5 to 2 percent milkfat.

All types of cottage cheese are good sources of dietary protein and fat, and as such are filling foods that provide satiety for longer.

This makes it a great option during pregnancy when you feel like snacking, but want something filling AND healthy. Some ideas are given below!

Cottage Cheese Snack Ideas for Pregnancy

Cottage cheese can be used in many ways as a healthy pregnancy snack. Here are some quick healthy snack ideas:

  • As a dip. Mix cottage cheese with diced tomato and cucumber for a delicious dip. Or use less cheese and it becomes a cottage cheese salad!
  • On toast or crackers, or in sandwiches as a low-fat replacement for mayonnaise.
  • With slices of fresh fruits, or mixed in with yogurt.
  • As a protein-rich, low-fat salad topping. A scoop of cottage cheese over a salad with croutons on top is deliciously filling and good for you.

Overall, not only is pasteurized cottage cheese safe to eat in pregnancy, but it has many nutritional benefits, and you can enjoy it in lots of different ways.

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