Is Blue Cheese OK For Lactose Intolerance? A Complete Guide

Are you a fan of blue cheese but also suffer from lactose intolerance?

It can be tough to navigate the world of dairy products when your body can’t digest lactose properly. But fear not, we’re here to help answer the burning question: is blue cheese safe for those with lactose intolerance?

In this article, we’ll explore the lactose content of blue cheese and other cheeses, as well as the potential risks and benefits of consuming it.

So sit back, relax, and let’s dive into the world of blue cheese and lactose intolerance.

Is Blue Cheese OK For Lactose Intolerance?

The short answer is no, blue cheese is not recommended for those with lactose intolerance. Blue cheese is made from milk, which contains lactose. Lactose intolerance occurs when the body cannot digest lactose, which is found in milk and dairy products. People with lactose intolerance may experience symptoms like cramps, bloating, nausea, and diarrhea when consuming dairy products.

While most blue cheeses are made with pasteurized milk, many are still aged with the use of traditional techniques that produce bacteria which convert the milk’s lactose into lactic acid, making it easier to digest. However, the amount of conversion that occurs is hard to determine, and it is not enough to make blue cheese safe for those with lactose intolerance.

Some people who are lactose intolerant may be able to tolerate blue cheese in small amounts. But if you experience any adverse effects, it is best to avoid blue cheese altogether.

Understanding Lactose Intolerance

Lactose intolerance is a common digestive disorder that affects many people worldwide. It occurs when the body cannot digest lactose, which is a type of sugar found in milk and dairy products. The small intestine produces an enzyme called lactase, which breaks down lactose into simpler forms that the body can absorb. People with lactose intolerance do not produce enough lactase, which leads to the undigested lactose moving into the large intestine, where it ferments and causes unpleasant symptoms.

Symptoms of lactose intolerance include bloating, gas, cramps, diarrhea, and nausea. These symptoms can occur within 30 minutes to 2 hours after consuming dairy products. The severity of symptoms varies from person to person and depends on the amount of lactose consumed.

It is essential to note that lactose intolerance is different from a milk allergy. A milk allergy is a reaction to proteins found in milk and dairy products, while lactose intolerance is a reaction to the sugar found in milk.

If you suspect that you have lactose intolerance, it is crucial to talk to your doctor for proper diagnosis and management. It is also important not to eliminate dairy products entirely from your diet, as they are rich sources of nutrients like calcium, vitamin D, and protein.

There are several ways to manage lactose intolerance. Firstly, you can reduce your intake of dairy products or choose lactose-free alternatives like soy milk or almond milk. Secondly, you can try consuming dairy products with other foods to slow down the digestion process. Lastly, you can choose dairy products with low lactose levels like hard and aged cheeses.

The Lactose Content Of Blue Cheese

Blue cheese contains a low amount of lactose compared to other dairy products. It contains approximately 2 to 4 grams of lactose per ounce, making it a suitable choice for those with lactose intolerance. However, the lactose content may vary depending on the type of blue cheese and the aging process it undergoes.

Traditionally made blue cheeses like France’s Roquefort, Britain’s Stilton, and Italy’s Gorgonzola are made using sheep’s milk and cow’s milk. The lactose levels in Roquefort and Gorgonzola are less than 2.4mg/100g, while Stilton has a maximum of 1mg/100g. The difference in lactose levels is due to the moisture content in each type of blue cheese.

Aged cheeses like Parmesan or brie contain very little lactose, which is virtually undetectable. The extended aging and fermenting process convert any remaining lactose into lactic acid during the aging process that can last for decades. Cheeses aged for over nine months may not contain any lactose at all.

While blue cheese may be low in lactose, it is still not recommended for those with lactose intolerance. The safest option is to avoid blue cheese altogether or consume it in small amounts and monitor any adverse effects.

Other Cheeses For Lactose Intolerant Individuals

If you are lactose intolerant, there are still plenty of cheese options available to you. Hard cheeses like cheddar, colby, Swiss, mozzarella, and Monterey Jack are virtually lactose-free, as 90% or more of the lactose in milk is removed during the cheesemaking process. Aged cheeses like Parmesan and brie also contain very little lactose, making them safe choices for those with lactose intolerance.

When it comes to soft cheeses, options like Camembert and Brie are also great choices for those with lactose intolerance. They contain only 0-2% lactose, according to lactose percentages collected by Steve Carper’s Lactose Intolerance Clearing House. Other soft cheeses like cream cheese and goat cheese also tend to be low in lactose.

It’s important to note that lactose levels can vary depending on the specific product, brand, or recipe, so it’s always a good idea to check the label or contact the manufacturer if you’re unsure about a particular cheese.

In general, it’s best to stick to cheeses that are at or below the 2-3% lactose range. This includes options like Muenster, cheddar, provolone, Gouda, and Swiss. If you’re looking for a blue cheese alternative, Roquefort and Gorgonzola are made with sheep’s milk and cow’s milk respectively and have low levels of lactose. However, it’s important to note that blue cheese is not recommended for those with lactose intolerance due to its high lactose content.

Potential Risks Of Consuming Blue Cheese

While blue cheese may be a low-lactose dairy option, it still contains saturated fats that can increase cholesterol levels if consumed in excess. Healthy adults should limit their daily intake of saturated fats to less than 7% of their total calorie intake. Overconsumption of blue cheese can lead to an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and other health issues.

Furthermore, blue cheese contains mold, which can cause allergic reactions in some individuals. While the mold used in blue cheese is nontoxic and safe for human consumption, those with mold allergies should avoid consuming blue cheese.

Finally, it is important to note that the lactose content of blue cheese can vary depending on the specific product, brand, or recipe. While some aged cheeses like blue cheese may have very little lactose, it is difficult to determine the exact amount of lactose in each serving. Therefore, those with lactose intolerance should exercise caution when consuming blue cheese and monitor their symptoms closely.

Potential Benefits Of Consuming Blue Cheese

Despite not being suitable for those with lactose intolerance, blue cheese offers several potential health benefits for those who can consume it. Blue cheese is a rich source of calcium, which is essential for maintaining healthy bones and teeth. One ounce of blue cheese contains 150 mg of calcium, making it a great addition to a balanced diet.

Studies have also suggested that blue cheese may help reduce the risk of osteoporosis, a disease that weakens bones and makes them more prone to fractures. The high calcium content in blue cheese helps to improve bone density and protect against bone loss.

Another potential benefit of consuming blue cheese is its ability to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Blue cheese contains spermidine, a compound that has been shown to delay aging and reduce the risk of heart disease. This compound has a positive effect on cardiac muscle cells and other parts of the cardiovascular system.

Blue cheese may also have anti-inflammatory effects, which can help protect against arthritis and other inflammatory conditions. Additionally, the enzymes in blue cheese break down milk proteins and fat, making it easier to digest than some other types of cheese.

While blue cheese should be consumed in moderation due to its high levels of saturated fat, calories, and sodium, it can be a tasty addition to a healthy diet. As with any food, it is important to store blue cheese safely and avoid consuming it if it has spoiled.

Tips For Incorporating Blue Cheese Into A Lactose Intolerant Diet

If you are lactose intolerant but still want to enjoy blue cheese, there are some tips to keep in mind:

1. Start with small amounts: If you want to try blue cheese, start with a small amount and see how your body reacts. If you do not experience any symptoms, you may be able to consume it in moderation.

2. Look for aged blue cheeses: As mentioned earlier, aged cheeses have less lactose than fresh cheeses. Look for blue cheeses that have been aged for at least two months, as this will ensure that most of the lactose has been converted into lactic acid.

3. Pair with lactose-free foods: If you do decide to consume blue cheese, pair it with lactose-free foods to help reduce the overall lactose content of your meal. For example, you could enjoy blue cheese with a salad or crackers made from non-dairy ingredients.

4. Consult with a doctor or dietician: If you are unsure whether blue cheese is safe for you to consume, consult with a doctor or dietician who can provide personalized advice based on your specific needs and health history.

Remember, while blue cheese may not be the best choice for those with lactose intolerance, there are still plenty of delicious cheeses and dairy-free options available to enjoy.