Creamy, slightly sweet, and used as a substitute for cottage cheese. And if you love Italian food, you’ve probably tried some dishes with ricotta cheese. Ricotta is undeniably versatile yet sometimes underrated. As someone who loves cheese in general and would like to try ricotta, you might ask: Is ricotta cheese healthy?
What is Ricotta Cheese?
Ricotta cheese is made from whey and some curds from cows, sheep, goats, or water buffalo. Making ricotta involves heating milk, which separates the whey and curds. The leftover whey is then used to create ricotta — and other “whey cheeses” like Manouri, Urda, and Mató.
As for ricotta’s taste, it can be described as slightly nutty and sweet, similar to cottage cheese. It smells mostly like milk, which makes it easy to tell when it has gone bad. It’s thick, creamy, and slightly grainy. Best of all, ricotta fits perfectly into any recipe from salads to desserts.
Is Ricotta Cheese Healthy?
In a nutshell, yes — ricotta cheese is healthy. It’s made up of key nutrients that provide you with energy and serve as the raw materials for your cells to grow. Below, we discuss some of ricotta cheese’s positive effects.
Unless you’re allergic to cow’s milk, which can manifest as hives and stomach problems, there’s no reason to avoid ricotta cheese.
Ricotta Cheese Nutrition
For a 100-gram serving of ricotta cheese, you get the following [*]:
- Calories: 158
- Protein: 7.8 grams
- Fat: 11 grams
- Carbohydrates: 7 grams
Other nutrients found in ricotta include calcium, magnesium, potassium, vitamin A, and phosphorus. You can definitely eat plain ricotta cheese, but serving it with nutrient-dense foods like eggs, salad, walnuts, and ground beef will maximize ricotta cheese health benefits.
Benefits of Ricotta Cheese
Ricotta is an excellent choice for those who are trying to optimize their health by including fresh cheese in their diet. Here are some important advantages of eating it:
Improves bone health
Among the benefits of cheese, bone health is an important one. A 100-gram serving of ricotta provides 224 milligrams of calcium [*]. We need calcium mainly for bone structure and strength. Other roles of calcium include blood clotting, muscle contraction, and transmitting nerve impulses [*].
Contains all essential amino acids
Ricotta cheese is considered a complete protein source in that it contains all the essential amino acids, such as tryptophan, leucine, and histidine. Essential amino acids are important for synthesizing protein in our bodies and aiding nutrient absorption.
May support weight loss
Is ricotta cheese good for you if you’re trying to lose weight? The short answer is yes, it’s one of your options if you’re on a weight loss plan that requires cutting carbohydrates — e.g. the keto diet. According to the USDA, a 100-gram serving contains 7 grams of carbs [*].
Here are common questions and answers on ricotta cheese and health.
Is ricotta cheese good for weight loss?
When paired with other low-carbohydrate foods, yes, ricotta is an excellent weight-loss food. The protein and fats in ricotta will also help you stay satiated, controlling your cravings throughout the day.
Can I eat ricotta cheese every day?
Yes, ricotta cheese is safe to eat daily. Enjoy it at home as a snacking cheese. Here’s an idea: Make ricotta toast by slathering almond bread (or another low-carb bread) with ricotta, along with blueberries.
Does ricotta cheese raise cholesterol?
Although ricotta is high in fat, there is no clear link between consuming high-fat foods and increased blood cholesterol levels. Research even suggests that a low-carb diet can improve cholesterol numbers by increasing HDL or your good cholesterol and decreasing triglycerides or your bad cholesterol.
Does ricotta cheese raise blood pressure?
There is no evidence showing that ricotta cheese increases blood pressure. In fact, ricotta can be a healthy option since it contains phosphorus, which may lower blood pressure [*].
Can diabetics have ricotta cheese?
Yes, they can. If you or someone you know has diabetes and can tolerate cheese well, ricotta cheese is unlikely to raise blood sugar levels. Cheese is one of the best bedtime snacks for diabetes because it contains tryptophan, which helps them fall asleep.
The Bottom Line
We’ve covered ricotta cheese nutrition, its health benefits, and a few delicious ways to enjoy it. If you haven’t tried it yet, perhaps now is the time you do. And don’t forget other types of cheese as well. Although not typical alternatives to ricotta — cheddar, gouda, and pepper jack are equally nutritious and flavorful!