Some people have trouble digesting lactose, the sugar in milk, cheese and other dairy products. Because they lack sufficient amounts of the enzyme lactase, necessary for breaking down milk sugar, the lactose intolerant may suffer mild to severe abdominal discomfort after eating foods with lactose. Following a lactose-free diet can help avoid such problems.
Many cheeses are off limits to people on a lactose-free diet, but not Parmigiano Reggiano® cheese, which happens to be a 100 percent lactose-free cheese. The reason is that within 6 to 8 hours after the cheese is made, lactose is transformed into easy-to-digest lactic acid through the action of enzymes in the cheese. At the same time, a rapid growth of lactic bacteria metabolizes all of the galactose, a component of lactose, and this, too, disappears completely.
In addition to lactose-free Parmesan cheese, yogurt can be part of a lactose free diet if it has live cultures, which convert lactose to lactic acid. Lactose-free milk, soy milk and rice milk are also acceptable.
Dairy products are the richest source of calcium. But some infants and toddlers have trouble digesting lactose. Infants and toddlers need the calcium in milk products to grow. That’s why knowing that Parmigiano Reggiano is naturally lactose-free is important—not only is it loaded with calcium but each serving supplies other nutrients such as protein, vitamins and minerals.
Women and seniors who are lactose intolerant face a challenge meeting their calcium needs. Thanks to the availability of lactose-free Parmigiano Reggiano, they can enjoy and benefit from a calcium-rich food that is safe for them to eat.