Lactose is the natural sugar found in dairy milk. People who have lactose intolerance have difficulty trying to digest lactose because the body cannot easily break down the sugar. Those that have lactose intolerance have varying degrees of symptoms. Some symptoms may include bloating, abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhea, cramps, and gas. Additionally, the tolerance level of lactose can vary greatly from person to person. However, most people can tolerate a certain amount of lactose in a given day, but it can be difficult to determine how much is too much at first. Fortunately for many lactose intolerant cheese lovers, in general, cheese is a very low lactose food. Also, there are some lactose-free or dairy free cheeses available for those who are very intolerant to lactose.
Low Lactose Cheese
Generally, the harder the cheese the less lactose. Hard cheese has typically been aged longer than softer cheese. As cheese is aged, it becomes hard because moisture slowly is reduced by the bacteria used to create cheese. Essentially, two of the same cheeses could have different lactose percentages because one is aged longer. According to The Really Big List of Lactose Percentages, most lactose intolerant people can tolerate a food with a lactose percentage of 2 percent or less. Below is a list of common cheeses that have a lactose percentages below 5 percent, but most range well below this percentage. A range or average is given instead of exact percentages to account for product-to-product differences.
|Cheese Type||Lactose Percentage (Range or Average)|
|Swiss (pasteurized processed)||0-2.1%|
|Cottage Cheese (4%)||0.6-3.3%|
|Cottage Cheese (1%)||2.7%|
|Cottage Cheese (2%)||3.6%|
|Cottage Cheese (Diet)||3.4%|
|Cheddar (Sharp)||very minimal to 2.1%|
|American (pasteurized processed)||0-14.2%|
There are some companies that make dairy free or lactose-free cheeses. We have provided a list of some popular dairy or lactose-free cheese brands and products:
- Green Vally Organics: Cream Cheese – Lactose-Free
- Go Veggie!: Slices – Lactose-Free, Dairy Free, and Lactose & Soy Free; Shredded: Lactose-Free, Dairy Free, and Lactose & Soy Free; Cream Cheese: Dairy Free; Blocks: Lactose-Free, and Lactose & Soy Free; Grated Topping Alternatives: Lactose-Free, Dairy Free.
- Borden Dairy: American Cheese Singles – Lactose-Free
- Lactaid: Cottage Cheese – Lactose-Free
- Daiya: Cream Cheese, Blocks, Slices, Shreds – All Dairy Free.
- Tofutti: Cream Cheese, Ricotta Style, Slices – All Dairy Free.
- Follow Your Heart: Slices, Blocks, Shreds – All Dairy Free