Our love affair with dairy is a complicated thing. You’ve likely been warned before that dairy products pose a risk of heart disease and consequently cautioned to think twice before snacking on that block of cheddar. Yet research has begun to suggest that dairy may in fact be good for your heart rather than harmful, which has dairy lovers heaving sighs of relief.
In fact, some studies indicate that consuming saturated fats from dairy products may be linked to higher HDL (“good cholesterol”) and lower triglyceride levels. Even with all this gouda news, researchers still advise eating dairy in moderation and choosing low-fat and low-sugar varieties.
So with that in mind, you might be wondering which dairy products are the best bang for your buck, nutrition-wise. One such product that gets little attention is quark.
What Is Quark?
Despite being somewhat difficult to categorize, quark’s smooth, soft, crumbly texture is similar to that of other cheeses. It’s made by fermenting a mixture of cheese and yogurt cultures in warm milk and straining out the whey.
Quark’s consistency is somewhere between cottage cheese, a thick Greek yogurt, and cream cheese, and its taste is similar to that of mildly sour cream cheese. Although it has a tanginess to it, it’s not as tart as Greek yogurt.
Originally from Europe, quark is especially popular in Germany but has begun to gain popularity in the U.S. due to its substantial health benefits.
The Health Benefits of Quark
Aside from being delicious, this soft, savory spread is bursting with nutrition. As a low-fat product that’s also a good source of protein, calcium, and probiotics, quark is worthy of being included in anyone’s diet.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a ½ cup serving of quark contains the following nutrients:
- 90.2 calories
- 11 g protein
- 3 g fat
- 5 g carbs
- 0 g sugars
- 29.7 mg sodium
- 80.3 mg calcium
Plus, the generous amount of probiotics found in quark help with improving digestion, regulating healthy bacteria in the gut, and boosting immunity.
But what truly sets it apart from its cheesy cousins is its low sodium levels. It contains half as much sodium as Greek yogurt and would make an excellent alternative to that, cottage cheese, or ricotta. If you’re watching your salt intake, quark is the way to go!
Tasty Ways To Enjoy Quark
Quark is an extremely versatile food, giving you many possible ways to enjoy it. You might choose to simply swap it with your daily Greek yogurt, topping it with all your favorite add-ins like granola, jam, and fruit. Or you could enjoy it on its own or as an accompaniment to your favorite dishes, treating it as a dip.
As a high-protein food, quark would also make an excellent pre- or post-workout snack, satiating your appetite while building and repairing muscle.
If you prefer to use quark as a spread, you can smother it on a slice of crusty bread, toast, or a bagel for a mouthwateringly delicious snack. There are endless options for incorporating this healthy cheese into your diet, all of which will leave you and your taste buds satisfied.