Cellulose: The Wood Pulp in Your Shredded Cheese

Cellulose: The Wood Pulp in Your Shredded Cheese

Often when following the Low FODMAP diet, cheese becomes a go-to food. With hard cheeses containing Low FODMAP levels and the addition of many lactose free products to supermarket shelves in recent years, cheese is a Low FODMAP staple. Cheese is a great way to assist in ensuring an adequate calcium intake and adds a great deal of flavour to dishes, along with a feeling of satiety. However, another thing many people look for on the Low FODMAP diet is convenient packaged foods, and that being case, many turn to packaged shredded cheese as a quick and easy way to sprinkle over or in to dishes.

So what exactly is the cellulose in packaged cheese?

So what exactly is the cellulose that you can find on the ingredients listing of your shredded cheese packet? It’s actually wood. Yes, wood pulp or other plant fibers is how the cellulose in your shredded cheese is made. It is a popular food additive, and is often marketed in packaged foods as a product that is high in fibre. it is primarily used to stop foods from sticking together or ‘bulking’ up the product. In packaged shredded cheese, cellulose is used to coat the pieces of cheese, blocking out the moisture that causes them to clump. it is also used to replace fat and give a creamier feel to foods like low-fat ice cream, to thicken and stabilise, and to boost fibre content. Sawdust usually contains about 40 percent cellulose. The stuff added to today’s food is purified and safe to eat, but it doesn’t have any lasting health benefits. It just passes through the body, perhaps making your slightly more regular.

It is widely agreed that ‘cellulose is cellulose’ in fact, Michael Jacobson, executive director of the Centre for Science in the Public Interest, states exactly that and goes further to say that ‘no research points to health problems related to consuming cellulose.’ Cellulose is also currently not considered to be high in FODMAPs, so is there really any issue at all? Well, firstly, knowledge is power and it is important to understand exactly it is we are putting in to our bodies. The second point is merely the question of whether you would prefer to obtain your fibre from a bowl of green beans or sawdust?

It is also important to note that packaged cheese also contain hidden Low FODMAP red flags and carbs in the form of potato starch, cornstarch, or cellulose, and as always on the Low FODMAP diet, ingredients labels should be carefully reviewed to avoid nasty surprises.