Cheese and Lactose Intolerance
It’s one of the most common questions we hear at the cheese counter: can people with lactose intolerance eat cheese?
Quite often, the answer is yes – as long as you choose carefully. All milk contains lactose – cow, goat, sheep and buffalo. However, as a result of the cheese-making and maturing process, cheese contains much lower levels of lactose than milk and in fact some mature cheeses are virtually lactose-free.
During cheese making, gut-friendly starter cultures actually break down the lactose found naturally in milk. Then, as the curds are drained and the cheese is formed, left over lactose (which is water soluble), drains away with the excess whey. Finally, during maturation, any remaining lactose is further broken down during the ageing process.
As a general guide, younger, softer cheeses will still contain low levels of lactose, but very mature cheeses like our 48 month Comté, Monte Veronese and Bitto have virtually no lactose and can usually be tolerated by most people who suffer from lactose intolerance. Other good cheese choices for the lactose intolerant include Alta Badia, Stelvio and Dolomiten.
It’s important to note that everyone’s digestive system is different and that some people suffering from lactose intolerance may be more or less sensitive to lactose than others. Additionally, people may have other dairy allergies that are different to lactose intolerance. Always follow the dietary advice given by your doctor or health specialist.