We all are guilty of loving cheese and eating loads of it. Cheese craving is a real thing and we all have been doing it time and again.
Most of the cheese that you eat today starts with the milk taken from sheep, cow, buffalo, or a goat. The cheese that is available commercially is made with the help of pasteurized milk i.e. it has been exposed to an extremely high temperature in order to kill bacteria.
Other cheeses are manufactured with the help of raw milk and consist of a lot of beneficial bacteria. At the same time, such types of cheese also have a high risk of causing foodborne diseases.
As per the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the risk of foodborne diseases, or food poisoning, is the greatest in children, older people, women who are expecting, and people suffering from a compromised immune system.
If a certain cheese is prepared, stored, and eaten properly and in moderation, it is really helpful for people and can actually boost health. But have you ever wondered if the cheese contains any gluten?
This information is particularly important for people who are suffering from gluten intolerances or diseases like celiac disease.
Keep reading to get the answers for “is cheese gluten free?”
Fun Facts on Cheese
- There are different types of cheese some of which contain a lesser amount of gluten as compared to the others
- The healthiest type of cheese varies from person to person and basically depends on the health needs of a particular individual
- Cheese has been processed to form different types in order to successfully meet the needs of the people such as fat-free, low-fat, full-fat, and reduced sodium forms.
Is Cheese Gluten-free?
Certain types of cheese do have gluten but all thanks to the Celiac Disease Foundation, a list is now available containing the names of all the food groups that are completely devoid of gluten.
According to several sources, some cheese products contain ingredients that might be a source of gluten.
Therefore, it is recommended to read the label of every food item that you buy and contact the manufacturer if you are unsure about the product that you are purchasing.
Which Types of Cheese have Gluten?
It is reported that natural cheeses such as Parmesan and Cheddar are not likely to contain any gluten. A debate is still going on whether certain types and forms of blue cheese contain gluten or not. It mainly depends upon the site where mold is grown.
In general, any cheese that has been processed additionally, such as cheese spread or shredded cheese, has higher chances of having gluten in their composition. Cross-contamination also needs to be kept in mind if same equipment or tools are used for processing gluten-free and gluten-rich products.
Why would you Need to Avoid Gluten?
As mentioned before, there are certain conditions that require the patients to avoid any product containing gluten. Some of these conditions include the celiac disease, wheat allergy, and gluten intolerance in general.
Such people can damage their own intestinal lining if they ever eat gluten or any product that contain it. They are also likely to suffer from the symptoms of gluten intolerance such as bloating, abdominal pain, nausea, etc upon consuming gluten.
Cottage cheese is usually said to be free of any type of gluten, however, some particular brands may add wheat starch or any food that has been made from wheat in its composition.
Cream cheese does not normally contain gluten. Modified forms of cheese like fat-free cheese or low-fat cheese may contain additional ingredients so it is important that you read labels before buying it. The same goes for all the flavored cheeses available in a supermarket.
A List of Gluten-free Cheeses and the Alternatives to Cheese
Some varieties of cheese that are typically thought to be free of any gluten include:
If you are still unsure whether you should be eating any cheese or not, there are a lot of non-dairy alternatives to it. Most of them are made from plant sources such as nuts or soy. Some of them are gluten free but others may actually contain it as a part of their ingredients.
A natural alternative to cheese which is completely free of gluten is avocado. Avocados can add flavor and a creamy texture to a lot of dishes such as salads and sandwiches.
Another famous non-dairy alternative is the nutritional yeast. You can sprinkle it on the top of many dishes or may simply add it to sauces to get that yummy cheese-like flavor.
How is Cheese Made?
In order to manufacture cheese, it is important to combine milk with good bacteria. Cheesemakers usually add different types of bacteria in cheese depending upon the type of cheese they mean to produce.
The purpose of adding these bacteria is to start the process of fermentation. These bacterial strains basically ferment lactose, a form of sugar that is naturally found in the composition of milk.
After this, an ingredient known as rennet is added. Sometimes, artificial coloring is also added to certain types of cheese. Rennet aids in dividing the solids and liquids of the milk which are also known as curds and whey.
The mixture is constantly stirred and heated in order to separate it. Eventually, draining of whey takes place and the next step differs in case of different types of cheeses.
Some types of curds, such as those used to form Cheddar cheese, need to contain added salt before they are molded into specific shapes. Other curds like those used for making mozzarella cheese are first shaped and then soaked in a salt solution called as brine.
A lot of cheese types require some time for their unique flavors to truly develop.
Which Type of Cheese is the Healthiest?
Overall speaking, most of the healthy population should enjoy cheese made using whole milk when used in moderation. It is better to eat natural cheeses than processed ones.
However, the healthiest type of cheese varies from person to person and depends upon the circumstances in which it is being consumed.
Pregnant women must prevent using cheeses that are made up of unpasteurized milk. This is because such types of milk can be unsafe and may contain Listeria, an organism causing foodborne diseases.
Soft cheeses such as Camembert, Brie, and queso fresco must be avoided.
Some types of cheese, particularly the natural, aged ones, contain a lot less amount of lactose. Such cheeses can be preferred by a person who has lactose intolerance. Care should be taken regarding how much lactose can such person consume at a time as the quantity normally varies from person to person.
Cheeses such as mozzarella, Cheddar, Swiss, and Parmesan usually have lesser levels of lactose as compared to other types and can be easily tolerated by the patients with lactose intolerance.
High Blood Pressure
People having the problem of high blood pressure may be concerned about the amount of salt in a cheese. Processed cheese, as well as cottage cheese, tend to have a higher salt concentration. In such people, the healthier option is going for a low-salt cheese such as mozzarella and ricotta.
Some types of cheese are gluten-free whereas others may contain wheat products. People who are unable to tolerate gluten in their diet must read the labels properly and ensure that the cheese they are choosing is safe to eat.
If you like, there are a lot of alternatives to cheese as well.