Lactose intolerant can still eat some cheese

By Neil Merrett

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Lactose intolerance, Milk

Lactose intolerant Brits may be missing the high calcium health benefits of dairy goods due to the misapprehension that they cannot eat cheese, according to a new survey conducted by the British Cheese Board (BCB).

The BCB said that 65 per cent of respondents to its survey believed that any cheese consumption was taboo for the lactose intolerant, unaware that they can eat cheshire, cheddar and red Leicester, and softer cheeses like Somerset Brie repercussion free. The study, carried out by TNS, surveyed 1000 consumers over their awareness of the disorder and its causes. With growing consumer demands for health benefits within food and dairy products, the BCB's claims could allow processors to tap new markets for their products. Lactose intolerance is the result of a shortage of the lactase enzyme within a person's digestive system, which is needed to break down lactose - a sugar present in milk - to a more easily digestible form. The disorder can result in a range of symptoms such as bloating, diarrhoea, weight loss and anaemia. The BCB added that lactose present within products like cheshire, cheddar and red Leicester that could trigger a negative reaction was "virtually"​ removed by the whey present during processing. A spokesperson for The British Nutrition Foundation welcomed the BCB's stance telling DairyReporter.com that lactose intolerance sufferers could indeed consume some cheeses and even yoghurts to boost calcium intake. They added that cheeses, like a number of dairy products offer a vital source of calcium, which is important to protect against diseases like osteoporosis. The nutrition foundation conceded though, that for many, an aversion to dairy was not always just a physical reaction. "Some bad experiences in consuming products such as milk, yoghurt or cheeses could often create a mental barrier towards eating or drinking dairy goods,"​ said the spokesperson. "Though dairy is a major source of dietary calcium, it can be difficult for some people to enjoy the product."​ The foundation added though, that an aversion wasn't the end of the world for consumers looking to ensure a healthy diet, and by making a "specific effort", a strong calcium intake was still possible. High calcium non-dairy alternatives can include calcium fortified Soya milks, boned fish like sardines, vegetables such as broccoli and cabbage, and even bread with fortified flour, according to the nutrition foundation. However, while cheese remains a plentiful source for calcium, the foundation spokesperson urged caution, suggesting that even without the presence of lactose, cheese still remains high in saturated fats and salts, and should therefore be consumed in smaller doses.

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