General Question

sfgal's avatar

What kinds of dairy/cheese have the most/least amounts of lactose?

Asked by sfgal (283points) July 31st, 2007

I know there are certain kinds of dairy that have less lactose than others (i.e. yogurt doesn't seem to affect me, but some hard cheeses do). Also, does fat content make a difference in terms of lactose? Does low-fat milk have less lactose than 2% or whole milk? And should I avoid condensed milk altogether? I am not severely lactose intolerant, but some types of dairy to seem to upset my stomach or give me gas. I love dairy too much to give it up entirely, but I am hoping someone out there has more info about which types of dairy I should most try to avoid.

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16 Answers

sjg102379's avatar

Consider goat or sheep cheese--it doesn't cause a reaction in people who are lactose intolerant.

gailcalled's avatar

You can buy lactose-free milk almost anywhere (whole, 2%, `1% and skim.) I bet that there are similar cheeses.You can also take a pill or liquid drops of a lactose intolerance med (LACTAID, for example) that is over-the-counter at any pharmacy. Easy and successful if used in moderation.

mistermister's avatar

Goat and sheep products are the way to go. I've been lactose intolerant since I was a kid and stioped relying on lactose free milk and pills years ago because injesting synthetic enzymes that my own body didn't make started to freak me out. that being said--i'm not actually sure that sheep and goat are actally lower in lactose (i had a big argument once at a fancy cheese counter with someone about this), but for some reason they don't cause the same reaction that cow's cheese does. Pecorino is always made from sheep (Pecora = italian for sheep), also you can get fantastic gouda cheese made from goats milk. Mozzarella is another wway to go, as buffalo mozzarella shouldn't affect your stomach either. I have the same experience iwth yoghurt as you sfgal, I can eat most kinds of cow's milk yoghurt including frozen yoghurt without feeling any negative effects.

Ma-goo's avatar

Trader Joe's has fairly good soy cheese (american & mozzerella type) & sometimes a cream chees made with soy

erinford's avatar

My experience has been that hard cheeses affect me but soft cheeses don't. So I stay away from the Cheddar but gorge on the Camembert. As everyone has already mentioned any cheese from goats or sheep milk has no affect. I think Mozzarella isn't a problem because it's soft.

picklez's avatar

i am lactose intolerant too, but like some of the above responders can eat some hard, dry cheeses, like parmesan. and like them, i’ve found that goat cheese (chevere) and feta don’t impact me very much. i’ve also recently discovered that i can eat yogurt with no problem. trader joe’s also has yogurt cheeses that are lactose-free, and delicious.

aielee's avatar

Ohhhhh lactose. Here’s how I deal: I put Lactaid milk in my coffee and rare bowl of cereal. I also cook with it. If you haven’t yet tried it, it tastes like any other milk, just a tiny bit sweeter. It’s perfectly safe.

Yogurt is okay because of the active cultures. Eating a little yogurt every day might actually help you digest any other small bits of lactose you consume throughout the day.

Supposedly the older the cheese, the lower the lactose content. But it’s different for everyone, so you just have to figure out what works for you.

I believe, at least in my case, that lactose intolerance might be a partially psychological issue like IBS. I know that my body has a hard time breaking down lactose, but I tend to psyche myself out whenever I eat anything resembling dairy—and that behavior is bound to give me a stomach ache. I find that when I’m really happy I digest better and can get away with eating more. And vice versa. Strange but true.

jewelie1981's avatar

I’ve been lactose intolerant on and off over my whole life, but have been intolerant for the last 9 years.
I’ve done a lot of research on this as well.

Lactaid milk is NOT the answer if you are lactose intolerant. Why? Because it’s still got the lactose. All they have done is add the ‘lactaid’ agent to help you digest it properly, but you’re still inevitably putting the same lactose into your system and hoping that the lactaid agent works properly.
Soy milk comes in many varieties nowadays, and many of them are quite delicious. I prefer Silk myself, but Eighth Continent makes a really good one as well. I’d suggest experimenting with these.
As for yogurt, the live cultures are best in specific yogurts with extras of them, such as the LiveActive yogurt. I cannot digest these well myself, being very lactose intolerant. But they also make great soy substitutes. And soy is actually very good for you as well, so to substitute soy ice cream, cheese, and milk is great for your diet.

The lactose in milk that is not easily digestible in humans is the sugar content. If you check your cheeses from cow’s milk and find that they have a 0% sugar content, then you should be fine. Also, you can have sheep, goat, and buffalo products as lactose in cow’s milk is specific to cow’s milk. Based on it being the sugar content, the harder the cheese, the less likely it is to have lactose. If you react to these cheeses still, you might want to consider that it isn’t just a lactose intolerance you have, but something else.

Last, the only connection from IBS and lactose intolerance to psychological issues is that stress can cause it to be worse. I’ve found that whether I even KNOW if something has lactose in it or not, it bothers my stomach. But when I am stressed, my IBS and intolerance are heightened. But lactose intolerance is not a mind issue, as it’s no easier for your body to process lactose when you think about it or not, or even know about it. The problem lies in the digestive system. Everything in your body works better the happier you are, but your digestive system will still have an issue digesting lactose if you are lactose intolerant.

Lastly, a trip to a nutritionist could be a great idea. They treat allergies (yes, lactose intolerance is an allergy) at their core, and not only can you help that issue and perhaps eventually add dairy in moderate doses back to your diet, but it can also help solve any other allergy issues you might have (such as regular allergies, sinus problems, and more!).

Anyway… those are my suggestions based on my own extensive research and experience. Hope it helps.

AstroChuck's avatar

Some soy cheeses can be pretty good. Mozzarella soy cheese tastes surprisingly like its dairy brethren.

philosopher's avatar

Have you tried the pills that are suppose to relieve lactose intolerance?

halsilverman's avatar

I was not lactose intolerant until I started using heavy doses of xifaxan to releave gas problems. The xifaxan is very very expensive but is highly effective regarding elimination of my gas problems. But a side effect was lactose intolerance.

I would welcome any suggestions about the above.

kathvccf's avatar

I am severely lactose intolerant. But, I can eat yogurt and goat cheese with no problem. Also, I have discovered an over the counter pill that has changed my life—and I don’t work for the company, either. It’s Digestive Advantage Lactose Intolerance. Must take 2 tabs a day for 2 days and then on the 3rd day you can start eating milk products and drop to one tab/day. But you must take it every day. I can now drink milk, eat pizza, ice cream—all the yummy fattening stuff!

v1kk111's avatar

Cheese is an ideal source of nutrients for people suffering from lactose intolerance, according to gastroenterologists who study the condition. “Most cheeses are so low in lactose that they do not present a problem for patients with lactase deficiency,” said Michael D. Levitt, M.D., gastroenterologist at the Veteran’s Affairs Medical Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and lead author of a New England Journal of Medicine study on lactose intolerance. In addition to being low in lactose, experts agree that cheese provides essential nutrients, such as calcium, that Americans aren’t getting enough of.

Most of the lactose is removed from the cheese with the whey during the manufacturing process. As a result, most ripened cheeses contain about 95 percent less lactose (.4 to 1 gram per serving) than whole milk (9–12 grams per serving), and less even than Lactaid milk (3 grams per serving), a brand of fluid milk that has most of the lactose specially removed.

zapwoman's avatar

Had to put my two cents in. I’ve been lactose intolerant for about 20 years. I’ve also had lots of other GI problems. With diagnoses like “IBS” and spastic colon, I’ve lived with a need to always be close to a private bathroom. A suggestion…try not eating gluten. No wheat, rye, barley (malt, etc. research it) Lactose intolerance goes hand in hand with gluten intolerance and may be a symptom of Celiac or a gluten allergy. This is no longer the stigma it used to be and there are so many options, it requires care and reading labels, avoiding certain things, but not the end of the world! The definitive diagnosis for Celiac requires a biopsy of the small intestine (endoscopy required) but you can certainly read up on the disease and try living gluten—and dairy—free for a month and see if you feel significantly better.

Smashley's avatar

Just putting in a plug for raw milk! So tasty and linked to improved lactose ingestion in the lactose intolerant (among other benefits: thank you, Lactobacillus acidophilus) . Plus, isn’t it nice to know where your milk comes from?

brock2112's avatar

OK… what I have learned is Lactose intolerance is NOT an allergy. It is caused by your body decreasing it’s production of lactase to digest the sugars. Apparently this can occur over time. Also people with Crohn’s Disease or Celiac’s may have trouble since these diseases have damaged the intestinal tract in some way. There is a big difference between allergies and the inability to produce enough lactase. Goat and sheep cheeses are possibly easier to digest due to the actual size of the fat globules being smaller than cows. It doesn’t separate like cows milk will. True Buffalo mozzarella I’ve read is actually made from Water buffalo milk and is even harder to digest than cow mozzarella. Be aware and do your research.

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