Myths perpetuate about any number of topics, from babies to hair and birthmarks. However, you may not even realize that myths about one of your favorite foods circulate because you think these facts are true. That’s right: Not everything you know about cheese is true. According to Cheese Science Toolkit, the biggest myth surrounding cheese is that people who suffer from lactose intolerance can’t eat cheese.
As it turns out, most cheeses don’t have any lactose in them by the time you’re eating it. This is because cheese goes through an aging process, which is essentially fermentation. During this process, lactic acid bacteria turn the lactose into lactic acid, as per Prevention. This means that when you eat aged cheese, you’re consuming lactic acid, not lactose, and people who suffer from lactose intolerance can stomach lactic acid. Finally, as Cheese Science Toolkit notes, you’re also consuming the same amount of lactose whether you have cow’s, sheep’s, or goat’s milk cheese, meaning you should worry about the preparation of the cheese rather than the source of its milk.
Further, as WebMD explains, being lactose intolerant is not the same thing as having a dairy allergy. If you experience digestive issues with cheese, you may actually have the latter and not be lactose intolerant.
Here's how fast the aging process works on cheese
It’s important to remember that dairy and lactose are not the same thing. As we now know, cheeses, while a dairy product, can be devoid of lactose if aged (something the cheese myth leaves out). Milk Means More (from the United Dairy Industry of Michigan) recommends cheddar and swiss cheeses as ones free of lactose, as well as other dairy products such a yogurt with live cultures and even chocolate milk.
All Recipes, meanwhile, gets even more specific with calculating lactose. According to the website, even fresh cheeses are typically okay for lactose intolerant people to consume because they lose approximately 90% of their lactose once inoculated with lactic acid bacteria. And after one month, the aged cheese will be completely free of lactose.
Milk Means More explains that even milk itself can be drunk by lactose intolerant people; they just need to drink it in smaller amounts. Understanding your limits with dairy seems to be the resounding message here, as well as to ignore the long-held cheese myth about lactose intolerance; but no matter what, know that you can indulge in some cheese if you want to and not have to give it up forever.
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