Speaking of food sensitivities, lactose-free cheese?

In the recent thread about the "gluten free fad", someone mentioned that some aged cheeses are lactose-free. This was news to me, and it got me to thinking...a dear, cheese-loving friend of mine has expressed distress several times to me b/c her live-in boyfriend is lactose intolerant and she can't include cheese in the food she makes for the both of them. I think she would be really happy if I could tell her about some varieties that were safe for her to share with her man.

Kristen W.


Reiney May 8, 2012
This is all very fascinating information - I had no idea!

(And spiffypaws, I can't imagine there are too many on this particular website that would disagree with your assessment of vegan cheese.)
spiffypaws May 8, 2012
I am severely lactose intolerant. All of the Cabot Cheddar cheeses are lactose free. I am able to digest aged cheddars, parm reg, aged sheep's milk and goat milk cheeses w/out a problem. I've tried just about all the vegan options out there, and personally think they are not worth it-I'm sure some people will disagree but I think that the vegan "cheese" options are just horrible. Cream cheese and ricotta cheese are a huge problem, unfortunately.
Kristen W. May 8, 2012
Thanks very much for all the great info! No idea how much , if any, of this my friend's boyfriend is aware of, but I know he thinks he can't eat cheese, so I'll happily pass it along.
susan G. May 7, 2012
There are a few nutritional supplements that can help this situation -- depending on the level of sensitivity of the individual. Lactaid has been mentioned, which contains an enzyme to convert the lactose (milk sugar); the lactase enzyme itself is also available in health food stores. A company called Enzymedica makes an enzyme conbination to help digest both the milk sugar and the protein. Another aid is from Natra-bio -- BioAllers for dairy. While these may help, his individual intolerance and/or allergy may not benefit.
Personally, during a period when I had to restrict lactose, I found that I could tolerate Jarlsberg cheese (which I love). Also, very well aged Cabot cheddar agreed with me, but other brands or less aged cheese did not.
In order for my family, with four children, to go out for pizza, we took the lactase with us and passed it around the table.
SeaJambon May 7, 2012
A couple of thoughts - Lactaid pills taken before eating dairy provides relief for many (allowed our daughter to eat "regular" pizza without resulting distress). Most people who are lactose intolerant can eat goat cheeses (and there are some good goat cheddars) just fine. Goat milk is naturally low in lactose. Similarly SOME (heavy emphasis on some - not all) lactose intolerant can eat yoghurt.

Having said all that, lactose intolerance is different from a dairy allergy. Those with a dairy allergy typically cannot eat goat milk.

To go even further, there are two things in dairy that can cause distress/issues: one is lactose (think milk sugar) the other is cassein (think milk protein). Unless you are working with a blanket dairy allergy in which case neither is acceptable, it is important to know which is the problem so that you can target the correct solution and foods to avoid.
Kristen W. May 7, 2012
Not at all TMI! I love the informed and detailed responses I get on this forum! I will pass this info on to my friend -- I'm sure she will be thrilled to learn that it may be possible for her to share her cheese habit with her man. Thanks!
petitbleu May 7, 2012
Many naturally lactose-free cheeses do not say they are lactose free on the label. Recently, however, I saw a block of cheddar (I think it was Cabot white cheddar) that said "naturally lactose free" on the wrapping. I do not know how long exactly it takes for the lactose to be consumed and converted into lactic acid, but I would imagine that parmesan, older gouda, cheddars aged for at least a year, etc. would be lactose-free or mostly lactose free.
I had NO IDEA cheese could be lactose free until I worked for a cheese maker. Talk about a wealth of knowledge. Of course, if your lactose intolerance is very severe, I would imagine that you should be more careful, the converse also being true. Some with lactose sensitivity can eat cultured dairy (yogurt, kefir). I know people who claim to be lactose intolerant except with raw milk (now there's a debate for you).
As an aside, skim milk actually contains more lactose than whole milk. TMI?
Aightball May 7, 2012
Daiya shreds all the way!! Vegan, safe for dairy allergy/intolerance and very, very tasty. They melt like regular shredded cheese as well. I'm allergic to all things dairy, and this is my go-to when I don't want sliced cheese.
Kristen W. May 7, 2012
On second thought, maybe the question should be how long do various types of cheese have to age before they are lactose-free? Can generalizations be made about that?
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