You say no Lactose, I smile and say Cheese!

Recently, I was asked to speak at a meeting about Lactose Intolerance. The thing about lactose intolerance is that many people with lactose intolerance avoid dairy. This is not necessary and can actually be detrimental to good health. The best way to diagnose lactose intolerance is with a breath hydrogen test. It is important that you Don’t Ditch Dairy until you know for sure as many cases are self-reported.

Dairy foods (milk, cheese and yogurt) contribute substantial amounts of many nutrients in the U.S. diet that are important for good health, including calcium, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, protein, vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin B12 and riboflavin making dairy foods a great nutrient bang for your calorie buck!

The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans confirmed the importance of milk and milk products in a healthy diet by maintaining the recommendation of 3 daily servings of low-fat or fat-free milk and milk products for those ages 9 and older. For children ages 4-8, the recommendation was increased from 2 to 2.5 servings, and for children ages 2-3, the recommendation remains 2 servings.

The key to enjoying dairy if you have lactose intolerance is using simple tips to limit or manage the amount of lactose consumed at one time.

These simple tips include:

• Use smaller amounts of milk and include with a meal or snack. This helps to slow the digestion thus, give the body more time to digest lactose.

• Take advantage of lactose-free or lactose-reduced products. New products are constantly being developed from real milk, just without the lactose, providing the same essential nutrients as regular products and taste great.

• Enjoy yogurt. The live cultures in yogurt help to digest lactose.

• Choose natural, aged cheeses such as Cheddar to top sandwiches, potatoes, soups or crackers. These cheeses are low in lactose.

At the seminar, Cabot Cheddar cheese was sampled. Cabot cheese has the only low-fat cheese on the market made from 1.0% to 1.5% low-fat milk. So, not only is Cabot cheese lactose-free but also meets the 2010 Dietary Guidelines call to consume more low-fat and fat-free dairy foods.

Registered dietitians and other health professionals advise that people continue to enjoy dairy foods to meet their nutrient recommendations for the nutrients dairy provides. Dairy foods (milk, cheese and yogurt) provide calcium, potassium and vitamin D, three nutrients of concern called out in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines as lacking in Americans diets. It is difficult to get enough of these nutrients without dairy foods in the diet…and with great tasting options like Cabot cheese. Why miss out?