What Cheeses Are Low FODMAP? (Low Lactose)

What Cheeses Are Low FODMAP?

What Cheeses Are Low FODMAP? (Low Lactose)

The good news is that you can enjoy some cheese on the low FODMAP diet. The low FODMAP diet is not a dairy free diet, however you do need to avoid high lactose products. The trick is to choose naturally low lactose cheeses and to control your portion size.

Types of Cheeses

Natural, aged cheese normally contains less than 0.5g of sugar, which means they will only contain very small or trace amounts of lactose per serve (Andrews, 2015). These cheeses include Cheddar, Camembert, Cheshire, Pecorino Style, Swiss, Brie, Blue Cheese, Harvati, or Parmesan and can often be digested by people with lactose intolerance. During the manufacturing process most of the lactose is drained off with the whey (Andrews, 2015). The small amounts of lactose left in the curd is then transformed into lactic acid as the cheese ripens (Andrews, 2015).

Fresh unripened cheeses can have lactose levels that are less than 5 grams (Andrews, 2015). These include Colby, Edam, Halomi, Cottage Cheese, Feta, or Cream Cheese. These cheeses do not go through a long aging process which means that not all of the lactose in the curd converts into lactic acid (Andrews, 2015).

Processed cheese foods and spreads are normally made by melting natural cheese and then adding dairy products like whey or milk (Andrews, 2015). These products will contain higher levels of lactose (Andrews, 2015).

How to Choose Safe Cheeses

There is a quick and easy way to check how much lactose is in your cheese. Look in the nutrition facts panel on the cheese label. The sugar in cheese is lactose – this means the lower the amount of sugar, the less lactose the cheese contains. This trick only works for cheese as other lactose containing products like milk or yoghurt can have added sugar.

From the table below it appears that the Monash Low FODMAP app recommends cheese serving sizes that contain less than 1g of lactose per serve. This means when reading labels look for cheeses that contain 1g or less of lactose per serve.

So which cheeses are considered safe for the low FODMAP diet?

The table below is compiled from information from the Monash University low FODMAP app, as well as the Food Standards Australia New Zealand NUTTAB Database and USDA Natural Nutrient Database.

Lactose Content of Cheese
Low FODMAP Cheeses Lactose per 100g Recommended Serving Size
Blue Cheese 0 – 0.5 Not tested but could be considered low FODMAP
Camembert Cheese 0.1g – 0.46 Low FODMAP serve 40g
Cheddar Cheese 0.1g – 0.48 Low FODMAP serve 40g
Cheshire Cheese 0.0g Not tested but could be considered low FODMAP
Cheese, soft, white, mould coated (brie &  camembert)  0.1g – 0.46g Low FODMAP serve 40g
Colby Cheese 0.1g – 0.69g Low FODMAP serve 40g
Creamed Cottage Cheese 1.9g – 2.67g Low FODMAP serve 36g. Some cottage cheese might be lower in lactose than others so check the    labels
Feta Cheese (cows milk or sheep & cows milk) 0.1g to 4.09 Low FODMAP serve 125g (See note below about lactose levels)
Pecorino Style Cheese 0.2g Low FODMAP serve 60g
Swiss Cheese 0.0g – 0.1g Low FODMAP serve 54g
Harvati 0.1g Low FODMAP serve 54g
Romano Style 0.2g – 0.73g Not tested but could be considered low FODMAP
Mozzarella Cheese 0.1g – 1.0g Low FODMAP serve 60g
Parmesan 0.0 – 0.07 Not tested but could be considered low FODMAP
Moderate FODMAP Cheese    
Edam Cheese 0.0g – 1.43g Not tested but depending on the product lactose level and serve it could contain moderate FODMAPs
Cream Cheese 2.5g – 3.76 Moderate FODMAP at 40g
Gouda Cheese 0g – 2.22g Not tested but depending on the product lactose level and serve it could contain moderate FODMAPs
Haloumi 1.8g Low FODMAP serve 50g, Moderate FODMAP at 100g
Quark cheese (low fat) 2.9g Not tested but depending on the product lactose level and serve it could contain moderate FODMAPs
Ricotta 0.27 – 2.0g Low FODMAP 40g, Moderate FODMAP at 80g

(Data sourced from: NUTTAB Database, 2010USDA, 2015Monash App, 2015).

Note on Lactose Content of Feta Cheese

There was one discrepancy in the lactose levels for feta cheese between the USA database and the Australia/New Zealand database. Feta cheese is listed as containing 0.1g lactose per 100g in the Australia/New Zealand database and 4g of carbohydrates (lactose) per 100g in the USDA database. The difference in lactose levels could be due to manufacturing processes. This means it is recommended that you check the nutrition label before purchasing your feta cheese and adjust your portion size as needed.

Final Thoughts

Dairy products are an important part of a healthy diet and unless you are completely dairy intolerant there is no need to avoid them. While on the low FODMAP diet there is a range of low lactose cheeses to choose from. Try adding them to your favourite salad, low FODMAP pizza, or have a slice of cheese on a rice cracker for a delicious snack.

REFERENCES

  1. Andrews, J. Low-Level Lactose Foods. Wegmans. 2015. Retrieved from:http://www.wegmans.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/CategoryDisplay?storeId=10052&catalogId=10002&langId=-1&identifier=CATEGORY_2942#labels. Retrieved: 2015-11-22. (Archived by WebCite® at http://www.webcitation.org/6dExQpmfl)
  2.  NUTTAB Database. Search Term: Cheese. Food Standards Australia New Zealand NUTTAB Database, 2010. 2010. Retrieved from:http://www.foodstandards.gov.au/science/monitoringnutrients/nutrientables/nuttab/Pages/default.aspx. Retrieved on: 2015-11-22. (Archived by WebCite® at http://www.webcitation.org/6dEy2FLei)
  3. USDA. National Nutrient Database – Search Term: Cheese. United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service. 2015. Retrieved from:http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods. Retrieved on: 2015-11-22. (Archived by WebCite® at http://www.webcitation.org/6dEyGiGqF)
  4. Monash University. Monash Low FODMAP App. Monash University. 2015: iPhone version 1.5 (295). Retrieved from:http://www.med.monash.edu.au/cecs/gastro/fodmap/iphone-app.html. Retrieved on: 2015-11-22. (Archived by WebCite® at http://www.webcitation.org/6dEyQwnG0)

Photo Credit: 'Cheese‘ by Sea Wave licensed under Shutterstock Standard Image

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Comments

  • lucy 30/11/2015 7:25am (20 months ago)

    I buy feta made with sheep and goats milk, and Its no problem for me

    Hope that helps

    • Alana Scott 30/11/2015 7:43am (20 months ago)

      Hi Lucy,
      Thanks for the feedback! Goats milk and sheeps milk still contain lactose so it is still important to check goat and sheep feta for higher levels of lactose. I'm glad you have found some brands that work for you though :-)
      Cheers,
      Alana

  • Kelly 01/12/2015 7:22am (20 months ago)

    Cheese does not affect me and I'm so grateful for that. Only milk and cream bothers me for some reason.

    • Alana Scott 01/12/2015 8:01pm (20 months ago)

      Hi Kelly,
      It's great to hear that cheese isn't affecting you. You might naturally be choosing cheese that is low in lactose. Milk and cream are both higher in lactose than cheese which is probably why they are causing you issues.

  • Erica Tramuta-Drobnis 30/03/2016 10:40pm (16 months ago)

    What about provolone? Everything I can find says low lactose.

    • Alana Scott 02/04/2016 2:58am (16 months ago)

      Hi Erica,
      I've just done some research for you. According to the data on Nutrition Self (see link) provolone cheese only contains 1 gram of lactose per 100 grams, which means it should be low FODMAP. I would suggest you test a 50g serve. I hope that helps! Nutrition Information link: http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/dairy-and-egg-products/34/2

  • Trish 21/05/2016 1:54am (14 months ago)

    Years ago (1975) I ate quark when visiting Europe and have been looking for it ever since. Finally saw it at Aldi this morning, made in Germany, but I see on yr list it could be problematic. Sigh. Oh, well; I guess I'll trial it some time when not much else is going on in my diet.

    • Alana Scott 22/05/2016 9:37pm (14 months ago)

      Hi Trish,

      I would recommend that you trial a small amount and see how you get on (I would suggest you wait until you have finished the elimination/restriction phase of the diet). Your other option is to take a lactase tablet before you eat the cheese. This can help your body break down the lactose. Hopefully you will find that you can tolerate a small serve of quark cheese.

  • Tamsin 07/08/2016 9:47am (12 months ago)

    Can I ask whether light/reduced fat cheese is low FODMAP?

    • Alana Scott 07/08/2016 8:00pm (12 months ago)

      Hi Tamsin,

      That would depend on a few factors like how long the cheese has been left to age and how they have processed the milk.

      I would recommend you check the ingredient list. Providing the ingredient list doesn't contain sugar or fruit then you can check the nutrition panel. Lactose will be listed as the sugar/carbohydrate content in the nutrition panel. If the amount of carbohydrates (sugar) is listed as 1 gram or less per serve, then the cheese would be considered low FODMAP.

      I hope that helps.

      Cheers,
      Alana

  • Claire 05/10/2016 4:13pm (10 months ago)

    Is gorganzola okay?

    • Alana Scott 05/10/2016 8:38pm (10 months ago)

      Hi Claire,
      I've done some quick research and it looks like Gorgonzola cheese contains between zero and 1 gram of sugar (lactose) per 100g serve. This means I would recommend testing your tolerance level to a 40g serve. I hope that helps!

  • Kathy basile 17/01/2017 3:55am (6 months ago)

    What is fodmap Pizza?
    Is eggplant ok?

    • Alana Scott 18/01/2017 6:54am (6 months ago)

      Hi Kathy,

      Yes eggplant is low FODMAP. Onion, garlic and normal pizza bases are all high FODMAP as well so you need to make some other low FODMAP swaps. You might enjoy looking at this recipe for some ideas: https://www.alittlebityummy.com/recipes/low-fodmap-salami-and-smoked-chicken-pizza

  • Paul Crosby 18/01/2017 11:46pm (6 months ago)

    Thanks for the easy to find info! Very informative and we'll laid out. My friend will be happy to have some feta cheese with the salad I'm bringing for dinner!

    • Alana Scott 20/01/2017 6:10am (6 months ago)

      Yay! That's awesome to hear Paul. I hope you had a wonderful dinner.

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