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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 . 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. The small amounts of lactose left in the curd is then transformed into lactic acid as the cheese ripens.

Fresh unripened cheeses can have lactose levels that are less than 5 grams. 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.

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

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


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.

Please note: If you want more information on going low FODMAP please see our FODMAP toolkit: Your complete guide to going low-FODMAP. Full print ready version available for purchase, details here.

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Please also see our articles; is the low-fodmaps diet right for you and our Fodmaps toolkit which is your complete guide to going low-fodmap.

Article sources and references

Date modified: October 4 2021
First published: Aug 2016

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