Health

Lactose intolerant? You can still eat cheese

Debunking 5 cheesy myths

If you're lactose intolerant and love cheese, you'd know how painful it can be to have to avoid eating something you love. As it turns out, you may not have to.

Here are some myths about cheese.

MYTH

You can't eat cheese 
if you're lactose intolerant

Turns out you don't have to fully eliminate cheese from your diet if you're lactose intolerant. Some cheeses such as parmesan don't contain any lactose content at all.

In other types such as cheddar, Swiss cheese and brie, the lactose content is so minimal - about 0.04g in a 40g block - that it can still be tolerated.

As a rule of thumb, switch to hard cheeses as these contain less lactose and always check the label's sugar content.

Lactose is listed under sugar, so if the number is low or zero, it should still be safe for you to consume.


MYTH

Low-fat cheese is healthier

If you're on a diet or just being cautious with calories during the holidays, switching to low-fat foods is a no-brainer, but you could be falling into a low-fat trap.

It is no secret that full-fat cheese contains more fat, but it also contains a lot more protein. That means it will keep hunger pangs at bay for longer and help you avoid any calorie-drenched munchies.

A Curtin University of Technology study backs this up.

It found that increasing your dairy intake can help with weight loss because the extra protein helps to speed up your metabolism.


MYTH

Cheese is bad for your health

Full-fat dairy foods such as cheese, butter and milk get a lot of blame for health problems due to their high level of saturated fats.

However, a 2012 study of 5,000 Australians showed that people with a higher intake of dairy actually had a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.

Another study at Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute in Melbourne also revealed that eating cheese over a four-week period did not adversely affect people's cholesterol levels as predicted. Conclusion: Brie isn't the bad guy.


MYTH

Cheese gives you nightmares

Ever since Ebenezer Scrooge blamed a "crumb of cheese" for his ghoulish encounters in A Christmas Carol, urban legend would have us believe that eating cheese before bed leads to bad dreams.

But, in fact, cheese can help regulate sleep - it contains an amino acid called tryptophan, which is linked to stable mood and sleep function.

A 2005 study by the British Cheese Board also reported no nightmares after giving 200 participants a small piece of cheese 30 minutes before bed.

They did note that those who ate cheddar predominantly dreamt about celebrities.


MYTH

Mice love cheese

Movies, cartoons and nursery rhymes play on the myth, but it is actually far from true.

A 2006 Manchester Metropolitan University study discovered that mice avoid cheese, instead the rodents satisfy their sweet tooth with grains, fruits and other sweet things.

If hungry enough, they won't turn their noses up at a bit of cheese or cardboard, but save the stilton for yourself.

It is too pungent for their sensitive noses, and they'll smell your trap a mile away.

The article is adapted from Australian Women's Weekly.

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