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The Health Benefits of Ricotta Cheese

Love the taste of cheese, but hate the fat? Ricotta cheese is a lower fat alternative. Discover its health benefits.

Some people miss out on eating cheese because of the high fat content. It’s true that hard cheeses such as cheddar and Gruyere cheese are high in fat, but there’s a host of soft cheeses such as cottage cheese and low-fat cream cheese that offer the cheesy taste without all the fat. One example is ricotta cheese. Is ricotta cheese healthy?

Is Ricotta Cheese Healthy?: What is It?

You might know ricotta cheese as the cheese that makes Italian dishes such as lasagna and manicotti so special – not to mention the cheesecake at the end of the meal. This Italian form of cheese is made from whey – the part that’s usually discarded during the cheese making process. In this case, instead of discarding it, the whey is heated and vinegar is added to encourage the proteins to rise to the surface where it forms a curd. The curd can then be separated out to make the final product which resembles cottage cheese in texture – with a light, mild taste.

Health Benefits of Ricotta Cheese: What about the Fat?

Surprisingly, ricotta cheese is even lower in fat than cottage cheese – the “dieter’s cheese”. Its fat content varies from four to ten percent. The full-fat version of ricotta cheese has only half the calories and saturated fat of cheddar cheese and you can buy low-fat and even fat-free ricotta cheese in many grocery stores. A full quarter cup of low-fat ricotta cheese has only sixty calories and 2.5 grams of fat – and it’s not all saturated fat. When you eat ricotta cheese, you also get a dose of heart-healthy omega-3’s. Ricotta cheese is a hands down better choice than cheddar cheese when it comes to heart health.

Other Health Benefits of Ricotta Cheese

Ricotta cheese is a good source of protein with five to grams in a quarter cup serving. Want to keep your bones strong? This soft, creamy cheese has almost 130 milligrams of calcium per quarter cup – and is an excellent source of zinc and selenium. Ricotta cheese wins out over its cottage cheese rival when it comes to salt content. Ricotta cheese has almost five times less sodium than cottage cheese – making it an easy choice for anyone watching their blood pressure. Ricotta is also a good source of riboflavin and vitamin B12.

Is Ricotta Cheese Healthy?

Ricotta beats out the hard cheeses for fat content and overall health benefits and even has advantages over cottage cheese. Use it as a tasty white pizza topping or stuff a chicken breast with it for added calcium. Substitute it in place of cream cheese in dessert recipes or flavor it with orange liqueur and serve it with fresh fruit. It’s a tasty, and healthy, alternative.

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