What Is Quark And Is It Healthy?

Quark is the next big thing in nutrition.

It’s tasty, filling, and it dominates Greek yoghurt in just about every nutritional aspect.

Unless you’ve lived in particular parts of Europe, however, you would never have heard of it.

So just what is quark and is it healthy? Let’s look at the science.

What is quark: cheese or yoghurt?

What is quark and is it healthy?Quark is a fresh dairy product, popular in German-speaking countries, Slavic countries, and northern Europe.

It has many different names in different languages, many of which pronounce it “kvarg”.

I first tried it in 2010 when studying in Finland, but only began to appreciate it years later in Sweden. It is becoming increasingly popular in the US and UK, and is even available now on Amazon.

Dictionaries typically define quark as curd or cottage cheese, however unlike most commercial cheeses, quark contains neither rennet nor added salt.

And despite a very similar texture and appearance to Greek yoghurt, quark is not a yoghurt either.

How is it made?

Quark is made by warming soured milk until it curdles (when the milk proteins denature and come apart).

Lactic acid bacteria are then added in the form of mesophilic Lactococcus starter cultures, different to yoghurt.

Once quark becomes acidic the casein proteins leak out. This is then strained in a cheesecloth resulting in a product that is firm yet creamy in texture.

The process is not as complex as it sounds, and can even be made at home.

Quark with a higher fat content typically has cream added, and is often flavoured in the manufacturing process.

Summary: Quark originated in Europe and is produced quite differently to both cheese and yoghurt.

Nutrition profile of Quark

Quark can range from 1% to 40% fat; the rest is protein (80% of which is casein), calcium, and phosphate.

There are also trace amounts of natural sugar in the form of lactose (which is in all dairy products).

Per 100 grams, 40% quark contains (1):

  • Protein: 14.1 grams
  • Sugar: 3.5 grams
  • Fat: 10.6 grams
  • Saturated Fat: 7.0 grams
  • Sodium: 81.0 milligrams
  • Energy: 165 kcal (690 kJ)
  • Calcium: 100-130 milligrams (same as yogurt)

Quark is high in protein… Much more so than Greek yoghurt

Quark is high in proteinProteins are the main nutrient required to build muscle.

This is one of the reasons Greek yoghurt became so popular, with an average 7 grams of protein per 100 gram serving.

In comparison, regular yoghurt has only 5 grams (2).

Quark, however, has 14 grams of protein per 100g serving.

Gram for gram, that’s double the protein of Greek yoghurt.

This is why flavoured quark is so popular in fitness communities, particularly in Scandinavian countries where it is well-known.




Summary: Full-fat quark contains double the protein of Greek yoghurt. It’s now becoming a popular health snack and dessert in northern Europe.

Quark is very low in salt- much less than cottage cheese

quark is low in saltSalt, often called sodium in a medical context, is a critical electrolyte in the body.

Consuming excessive amounts, however, can be very bad for health.

While salt shaken over your dinner does not seem particularly harmful, the amount of salt manufacturers add in processed and pre-made foods is typically much more than you would add yourself.

Reducing salt in the diet improves blood pressure, a major risk factor for metabolic disease (3).

While major health organizations recommend we aim for less than 2,300 mg of sodium per day, the true average intake is about 3,400 mg, most of it coming from processed foods (4)

Added salt is not necessary to create quark, which is why it only has around 40 mg per 100 grams.

For perspective, per 100 grams (5):

  • white bread has 592 mg
  • cottage cheese has 406 mg
  • ricotta cheese has 307 mg
  • regular yoghurt has 70 mg
  • Greek yoghurt has 46 mg

Quark contains very little salt compared to other cheeses, one of the reasons it is a much healthier alternative to ricotta and cottage cheese. It also contains the lowest of all yoghurts, but only marginally.

Based upon the high protein and low sodium content of quark, I’m surprised it’s not more commonly used in hospitals as a nutritional supplement.

Apart from blood pressure benefits, foods naturally low in sodium are necessary for patients restricting fluids, such as those with heart conditions.

What’s more, patients at high risk for muscle loss during admission – particularly the elderly or long-term stayers – can greatly benefit from high energy and protein foods such as quark.

Summary: Quark contains dramatically less salt (sodium) than cottage cheese and ricotta. It would actually make a fantastic nutritional supplement in hospitals because of its high protein, low sodium nutrient profile.

Full fat quark is high in vitamin K2

quark contains vitamin k2Vitamin K2 is one of the best vitamins you’ve never heard of.

It helps to regulate where calcium ends up in the body. Put simply, it works to keep calcium in your bones, and remove it from blood vessels where it can cause arterial stiffness and calcification (6, 7).

Full-fat dairy is by far the best sources of vitamin K2, including butter, cheese, and quark.

In my opinion, we should all be increasing our vitamin K2 intake as a preventative measure for heart health. Especially if you are particularly vulnerable to artery calcification, such as diabetics or those with a family history of high cholesterol and blood pressure.

Summary: Full-fat quark is a great source of vitamin K2, which helps to maintain bone strength and protect your arteries from blockages.




What does Quark taste like?

Plain quark tastes like a cross between Greek yoghurt and cottage cheese. No real surprise given its texture and nutrient profile.

High-fat varieties are very creamy and smooth, making them easy to enjoy on their own. Low-fat varieties on the other hand are very thick and firm, more like a spread.

Because of its texture, quark absorbs and retains flavours very well. Adding fruit or honey for example is typically how it is enjoyed in northern Europe.

Quark is also a fantastic alternative in healthy (and not so healthy) cooking recipes.

Flavoured varieties of quark are becoming increasingly common too, although they are usually sweetened with added sugar and flavours.

Quark is in a league of its own

It has far less salt than any cream cheese, and far more protein than Greek yoghurt.

Yet it’s not quite cheese and not quite yoghurt.

Quark really is a unique type of food, and makes a healthful addition to just about any diet.

It’s not yet widely available in all supermarkets and grocery stores, but you can now find several varieties and flavours on Amazon.

[Last Updated 28th November, 2016]



what is quark is it healthy?

Comments

  1. Thankyou great article/webpage on Quark

    Have you any data on how much K2 is contained in 100g of full fat

    I cant find any details

    Thanks again

    Marcus

  2. Prashant Dhanraj says:

    Hi Joe,

    Thanks for the great article, it was very informative! I have one unanswered question though – would you recommend full-fat quark over the low-fat variety? I.e. do I lose some of the health benefits (like the vitamin K2 content) if I consume only low-fat quark? I’ve just been assuming that low-fat anything is just a better choice than the full-fat option, but now I’m not so sure…

    Thanks in advance for any info!

    Best,
    Prashant

    • Hi Prashant,

      Good question! As with any food, it depends on the person eating it.

      If you are a healthy weight, there is no harm from full fat quark. It has vitamin k2, and more fat content can help keep you feeling more full.

      On the flip side, if you are very overweight, or you just want to lose more weight and reduce body fat, then low fat can be the better option because it is far less calories. Of course how influential this factor would be also depends on how often and how much quark you eat.

      Hope that helps.
      Joe

      • Prashant Dhanraj says:

        Hi Joe,

        Thanks for your quick response! I do believe that I am a healthy weight, but I’m currently working on lowering my body fat percentage (trying to get that 6-pack!) so I think I’ll still go for the low-fat option and forgo any extra K2 I might be missing…

        Either way I should be fine I think 🙂 Thanks again.

        Best,
        Prashant

  3. Quark can be bought in Tescos in the UK now. I actually bought some today. They only sell what is called “Natuarally Fat Free”. No idea what that means though.

    Spotting it in Tescos today was the first time I had heard of it. I was in fact looking for cottage cheese at the time but bought the quark instead to give it a try when seeing it said “soft cheese”.

    • Tracy Mead says:

      It can be found in almost every ‘large’ high street supermarket in the UK, I have bought it in Sainsburys, Asda, Tesco’s and Morrisons. Finding where they have filed it is interesting, and asking a shop assistant where it is is even more interesting and funny.

      So for those searching for it I’d suggest looking in Cottage cheese section, cream section, speciality cheese section and bizarelly sometimes its with yogurts.

  4. Jen Bacon says:

    Asda sell a passion fruit and papaya quark pot which is a little sickly for me (I think this is due to the size of the pot) however they also sell a vanilla one which has a pumpkin seed, dried apple and raspberry topper – which I know will bump up the fat/sugar content but it can be eaten without (it is really nice added though 🙂 ) Both pots have stated they have 20g of protein in and they are found next to the yogurts – which I thought they were until I read the pot, so not well advertised!
    I am interested to know how often you would recommend the elderly to eat say a 20g pot of quark to build muscle? My grandfather is 88 and due to his age has become quite immobile and he finds it really frustrating not to be able to move more as he is of very sound mind. The doctor said he has to get use to it as it is part of getting old however he would try anything to help himself, even if it just allowed him to move around his home a bit more easily.

  5. Gilbert Schmitt says:

    We found quark while in Germany and coming home not many people have heard of it. I did some research and started making it at home two years ago. I use low temp pasteurized cream top milk and the quality of the quark is comparable to that we had in Germany.

    • Would you mind emailing me your recipe? I am having trouble finding a good one. I am most likely going to order a yogurt maker. Do you think that is the right move?

  6. Salt is not an essential electrolyte. Salt and sodium are not interchangeable terms. the fact that quark may have less sodium than close products is not necessarily beneficial. Sodium from plant based food or the animal that ate the plant is beneficial, salt is not essential, it is a myth.

  7. Will I loose all Vit. K2 in the low fat quark?

  8. There’s no mention of calcium levels?

  9. Hi Joe,

    I’ve been using raw milk and just letting it sit at room temperature for a couple of days before straining my cheese. I never add anything to it. Is this what quark cheese is because it does turn out to be a cross between yogurt and cottage cheese, but more on the yogurt consistency. Also, do I need to rinse it after all the whey has been stained it? I haven’t done that, but wasn’t sure if I should? I’ve been doing this because I’ve been following the Budwig Protocol and want to use quark like she did, instead of just our store bought organic cottage cheese here in the US.

    Thanks in advance,
    Adele

  10. Hi, I have a lactose intolerance with cows milk but am able to have goats or sheep’s milk due to the amount of vitamin k in larger quantities in the milk products. Will quark be OK for me?

  11. I noticed you said it was unheard of outside parts of Europe but recently becoming popular. Well i cant speak for the whole country but as for southern California its been in many markets forever and i have eaten it for my entire life in fact my mother would use it on certain types of roasts. Granted southern California is known for healthfood and specialty markets so many things are commonplace here but rare in other places but i still think you may be making it seem more unkown than it is. Anyway still nice to see an article on something good for you rather than the normal fad foods stuff online. Keep up the good work =)

  12. Being a vegetarian that goes to the gym on a regular basis, I eat A LOT of quark, and I love it too! 🙂
    I live in Finland, and while Finnish quark is easy to mix with all kind of other food, I feel that it is not very “real”. But it nevertheless is my biggest source of quality protein!

    Thanks for the post!

    Victor.

  13. Kirstie Teeter Trickle Creek says:

    Hi I am really excited to read everyones comments and info.I make Quark and sell it here in Western Wa.I also sell Raw milk, we have had great response from our customers.The probiotics have really helped alot of my customers, some are lactose intolerant. Alot of our cows are A-2 and that comes thru in our Quark.Look for us at some local food co ops and store ubder Trickle Creek.

  14. Just found some at our local farmers market here in Iowa. It is delish and I can’t wait to spread the word here in the Midwest. Made at Milton Creamery in Milton Iowa.

  15. menaibangor says:

    Just to put things into correct order.
    Quark is NOT originating from Scandinavia. It might be available in Scandinavian countries as indeed anywhere else in Europe, but quark is a Bavarian / Austria / Swiss product. It is also widely known in Eastern European (Slavic )countries.
    In Bavaria it is actually called ‘Topfen’ and in Austria ‘Scotten’ and is made in many different variations which are unknown and unavailable outside German-speaking countries.
    If you require really detailed information about Quark then I suggest you check the relevant German language wiki page. Forget the English one which only provides basic and incomplete info.

  16. In Sweden we have KVARG which it contains 0,2 fat and 16 gram protein per 150 gram kvarg ! It is wonderful for diet and bodybuilding !

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  20. Hansje te Velde says:

    Your website on kwark (quark) is very informative and encouraging.
    Yet, does anyone know a place where I can buy / order full fat organic kwark (quark)?
    A dutch company I contacted won’t send it from Holland.
    I have searched high and low here for organic full fat kwark or (english) quark, including the amazon option mentioned on this site; Aldi, Waitrose, Sainsbury, Tesco, Ocado, Asda, various websites – they all reduce the fat and/or it is not organic whilst fat is the very ingredient I want. It is such a big misunderstanding that fat is bad for us. It is the opposite. Sugar is the great culprit in our health. Research is clearly showing this.
    Can anyone help?

    Hansje

    • You can easily make your own full fat quark: buy full fat organic milk, mix in 1/2 cup of organic yogurt, let it sit in a warm place until it sours well. The rest see in my post below….

  21. Just a note: protein is NOT denatured in quark. The process is very simple: either soured raw milk – naturally, as raw milk would do, OR adding a ‘starter’ – kerir or yogurt – to the pasteurized milk and letting it sit in the warm place for 24-36 hours to sour, OR adding a tablespoon of calcium cloride that will form curds in milk (last one will produce acid-free quark). Once the curds are formed by either method, the milk should be slowly heated in double-boiler to 33-35 degrees celsius, NOT HIGHER to ensure that all beneficial bacteria are all alive and well and protein does NOT denature (when it does, quark will have a dry rubbery texture). Then hang it up in a cheese bag or cheese cloth to strain off the whey. Drink the whey or make smoothies 😉

  22. Aileen Kelly diet vs disease says:

    I absolutely love quark and use the 0% fat variety. I use it in any recipe that calls for soft cheese or cream. I’ve used it in my chicken supreme, carbonara and cheesecake recipes.

  23. Just tried quark for the first time and it’s absolutely gorgeous. Lovely thick creamy consistency without the bitterness of 0% fat Greek yogurt and foul taste of cottage cheese.
    Tried many fruits over the years, but for me the tastiest and healthiest sweetener is red grapes. One grape with one teaspoon of quark is just the perfect snack combination.

  24. Francie Silos says:

    I’m having trouble finding quark in the USA. I just purchased Vermont Creamery quark but the protein content is too low to be true quark. How disappointing! Why the heck is no-one marketing this stuff here?!

    • Gabrielle Callison says:

      Francie, I don’t know where you are located but there are several ways to find Quark in the US.
      First, look in your phone book if you have a German store in your area; they usually carry it.
      Second, check your local Farmer’s Market; they often have stands (at least here in California) that sell also Quark.
      Third, look around on http://www.appel-farms.com; they ship Quark all over the country to different stores; you might be able to contact them to find a supplier in your area.
      If nothing of this works, you can order Quark directly online at the German Deli in Texas; website is http://www.germandeli.com. They are absolutely wonderful to work with, the best online seller I’ve ever experienced.
      Good Luck!

  25. I tried to use quark in a cheesecake recipe using gelatin and it was okay, but when I made a baked NY style cheesecake with eggs, it really came into its own. Healthy and YUM!

    I know a lot of people now are making their own cheeses for various health reasons and I wonder if the above commenters who can’t get it in their country could just make it at home?

  26. heather churcher says:

    I was delighted to find Quark in our local supermarket here in Turkey, I tried it for the first time today and loved it, so thick and creamy and nicer than the Greek-style yogurt we get here. I was interested to hear it was so low in salt as I have high blood pressure. I will definitely be adding it to the weekly shopping list.

  27. I make my own quark from non-fat buttermilk. Can you tell me how many calories are in a cup?

  28. The Whole Foods website says that they have Quark.

  29. Stylusmaestro says:

    Need help fast in clarifying the content of quark cheese. It is stated here that quark is made up of 80% casein. But findings have shown casein to be bad for health. Can somebody assist?

  30. Where can I buy Quark?

  31. Joe Leech, Dietitian says:

    Thank you Julian 🙂

  32. Joe Leech, Dietitian says:

    Thank you Sibyl 🙂

  33. Hi. Thanks for this. I’d like to try quark, but I am also just starting a low FODMAP diet – do the two go together ok? Cheers.

    • Joe Leech, Dietitian says:

      Hi Alan, unless you can find lactose free quark, then any other quark is going to have lactose which is high FODMAP. Try to find a lactose free quark. Personally I haven’t seen one before but they may exist!

  34. Is Quark good, bad or indifferent for cholesterol?

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