I have a complicated relationship with dairy . Basically, I'm never sure if I can eat it or not. Sometimes I can down a plate of cheese and feel totally comfortable afterwards, sometimes getting so naughty and uncomfortable, I swear, I'll never look at that stuff again. Of course I end up looking more and more at it (and eating it), but every time I wonder if I'm fine or if it's good for a cheese-filled balloon that's about to burst.
As anyone with lactose intolerance can attest that too much lactose does not feel good. Lactose is a type of sugar found in dairy products that can be difficult to digest for some people, especially those with lactose intolerance. And although I was not officially diagnosed with the disease, I have many of the symptoms. Cheese is also delicious, and I can not imagine giving it up altogether. That's why I went into the subject a bit more to find out why different cheeses have different effects on me. And indeed, I have some very good news to report: If you have trouble digesting dairy, you may not have to denounce all cheeses forever, as not all cheeses contain lots of lactose. Some of my favorite cheeses are quite low in lactose for a variety of reasons (including the way they are aged and cooked), so they may not burn into my stomach when ingested.
] Of course it is important to note that anyone who has problems with dairy products necessarily has lactose intolerance. It is also possible to have a milk allergy caused by the casein in the milk rather than the lactose, and the symptoms are often completely different, says Suneal Agarwal, Assistant Professor of Medicine-Gastroenterology at Baylor College of Medicine, SELF. While a milk allergy can cause stomach pain similar to lactose intolerance, a allergy typically manifests with symptoms such as hives, itching, swelling in the mouth, lips, and throat, wheezing, and in severe cases anaphylaxis. On the other hand, he says, the symptoms of IBS are almost identical to those of lactose intolerance, but the condition can be caused by a number of different things (including dairy products), making it difficult to know if lactose is a liability or not. Basically, if you feel spoiled by dairy products in any way, you should consult a doctor to get the right diagnosis.
The good news is that cheese, if you are actually lactose intolerant, does not have to go out The table. The bad news is that your tolerance for different cheeses ̵
After all, you should know about lactose in cheese if you want to eat it and do not want to feel like garbage.
This determines the amount of lactose in cheese.
Cheese is actually low in lactose compared to dairy products like milk, cream and yoghurt. Most contain less than 2 grams per serving (1 ounce), which is far less than the 12-13 grams of lactose you get in one serving (1 cup) of milk. Of course, most people do not just eat 1 ounce of cheese in one sitting. So, remember that eating most of a cheese dish probably means you have well over 2 grams of lactose.
Interestingly, the cheese making process adds to the amount of lactose. Each cheese goes through a slightly different process, but in general, cheese making essentially consists of removing whey (the liquid part) from the milk and acidifying and salting the rest of the curd, says Andy Hatch, cheese maker and owner of Uplands Cheese ]. "The way in which each of these three steps is done determines the character of the resulting cheese," including the amount of lactose it contains or not, says Hatch.
For example, both soft cheeses like Brie and hard cheeses like Cheddar or Monterey Jack are low in lactose, but they go through two completely different processes, he says. For hard cheese, the whey is drained from the cheese vat before the cheese curd is filled into cheese molds for pressing. For softer cheeses such as Brie and Camembert, however, the whey is not removed until the quark forms have been made. "They are slowly dripping from the newly formed cheeses," says Hatch.
"Approximately 97 percent of lactose [in cheese] is actually lost when the whey drains off during the cheese making process," said Cathy Strange, global product innovation and development coordinator at Whole Foods Market, SELF. Exactly when the whey is removed, whether at the beginning or at the end, it does not really affect the amount of lactose a cheese will end up with.
What really determines is the next step, the fermentation, which begins as soon as lactic acid bacteria (which occur naturally or can be added) begin to metabolize the lactose and convert it into lactic acid. This can start anytime during the process, depending on how a cheese maker manipulates certain conditions such as temperature, humidity and salt, Hatch explains. And he adds that fermentation can take place before the whey is dehydrated and then everything is gone – it only stops when all the available lactose has been converted to lactic acid.
These are the cheeses, which generally contain less lactose.  Aged cheese, both hard and soft – like Parmesan or Brie – contains so little lactose that it is virtually undetectable, says Sasson. In fact, things like cheddar and blue cheese may contain as little as 0.1 grams of lactose per serving although this will vary depending on the product, brand or recipe. The deciding factor is the partial decades of aging and fermentation process.
Lactose, which remains in a cheese after the whey drips off, is gradually converted into lactic acid during prolonged aging says Lisa Sasson, clinical nutrition professor at New York University. The longer the aging process lasts, the less lactose a cheese has. In fact, Strange says most cheeses, which have been ripened for over nine months, contain none at all. In a laboratory test of 121 different dairy products the researchers found that the levels of lactose in Swiss cheese, Brie, Limburger and even feta were so low that they could not even be detected.
This is not really a hard and fast rule for exactly how long a cheese should ripen to be "aged" on a label. Some labels indicate how long the article has aged. others maybe not. While selecting a matured cheese is a good general guideline for selecting a low-lactose cheese, it is not foolproof. If you want to know more about how a cheese was made or how long it has matured, it is best to look for the company that makes it and even ask.
And these are the cheeses, which usually have a higher lactose content.
Cream cheese like ricotta and cream cheese usually have a higher lactose content, says Strange. These same cheeses also tend to contain higher levels of whey, according to SELF's Joey Wells, Whole Foods Market's leading global product developer and innovation expert. Although technically they have more lactose than their older counterparts, they still do not have much. For example, cottage cheese contains about 3 grams of lactose per serving, while cream cheese contains only 1 gram – not much more than what's contained in these harder, aged cheeses. But we are also talking about proposals for portion sizes, which is not always the realistic consumption of cheese. Just saying.
Strangely, the process of producing cream cheese like ricotta and mozzarella is much faster than older cheeses, which means they retain more whey and have less time to turn lactose into lactic acid. They are usually also more moist than their low-lactose counterparts because the whey does not last long enough to drain completely.
Here is our advice for safe cheese nutrition.
It is true that some cheeses have a lower lactose content, it is important to keep an eye on portion sizes. Even a low-lactose cheese can mess up your stomach if you eat a ton of it. And the truth is, even with people with diagnosed lactose intolerance, sensitivity to lactose can be very different, Dr. Agarwal. Something that hardly affects a person could cause another person in the fetal position to contract with stomach cramps, which is why Sasson warns against throwing back a bunch of cheese without first trying it out. Regardless of which cheese you eat (even though it is supposedly low in lactose), it recommends tasting a small amount first and then taking your time to see how your body reacts.
In general, it's also best to eat cheese as part of a larger meal whenever possible, because eating with other foods facilitates digestion, says Sasson.
And unfortunately Dr. is included in a product, unless it is expressly labeled as low in lactose or similar. So, if you are not sure how much lactose you should (or not) eat, contact your doctor first.
If you can not tolerate even a small amount of Parmesan, this can lead to dairy problems being something else – like a milk allergy. Sasson says lactose intolerance is not life-threatening, but severe allergy can exist. So, if you are not sure what you have or how sensitive you are, talk to your doctor before experimenting with cheese.