How do I tell how much casein (or dairy protein) is in a food product?
September 10, 2007 10:58 AM   Subscribe

How do I tell how much casein (or dairy protein) is in a food product?

I've been a dairy fan my entire life. I gave up casein about a month ago as an experiment regarding a stiff joint. I'm not sure if it helped the joint, but I've seen benefits in other ways. I'd like to keep on a restricted casein program.

I've been avoiding all products with casein, checking the labels and such. Since I'm not entirely allergic (or perhaps, at all, it's just a theory), I would like to know how to check how much casein is in a product. I.e., if soy cheese has minute amounts of casein in it compared to regular cheese, I might like to have this on occasion. Same with yogurt.

I haven't found any such numbers via google; perhaps I am not searching the right key terms. Ideally, I would like to see a chart, how much casein is in milk, cheeses, yogurt, soy products, snack foods (hot chocolate and microwave popcorn), etc.

Does anyone know how to check the amount of casein in various food products?

Thank you, manimals!

[Here's the background to the theory: A week or two ago, after a few weeks of zero casein, I figured I'd have some pizza ("sure why not I've been good") and I got ill. About thirty to sixty minutes after I ate, I started to feel "out of it" mentally/visually, and then my stomach cramped up very badly. The cramps continued at least until I went to sleep an hour or two later. My theory is maybe I am mildly allergic to casein and never knew it before. I've heard of mild allergies getting masked by addiction, so that's my hypothesis. I put this info in here to welcome other hypotheses.]
posted by letahl to Health & Fitness (3 answers total)
Not answering the question: Have you ruled out lactose intolerance?
posted by Khalad at 12:10 PM on September 10, 2007

Also not answering the question: there's but a negligible amount of lactose in cheese - the lactose is what the bacteria feed upon

I don't personally know of a specific way to check - the USDA nutritional database doesn't track casein.
posted by TheNewWazoo at 2:49 PM on September 10, 2007

After lots of searching, I wasn't able to come up with a chart or table showing casein content of food, but I did find this offhand statement in a diet/nutrition book:
"A cup of cow's milk contains about six grams of casein. Skim milk contains a bit more, and casein is concentrated in the production of cheese. A one-ounce slice of cheese holds about 5 grams of casein, and each of those grams holds millions of individual casein molecules." [Google Books]
There are numerous scientific publications that go into the production process of cheese, yogurt, ice cream, skim milk, etc. that mention casein amounts. And here's an excellent analysis of the protein function in dairy products, so you can be sure you'd want to avoid pure dairy products. But as for processed foods that use trace dairy ingredients like cheddar popcorn, milk chocolate, or those soy cheeses (a lot of those gain texture from casein additives like you mention), I think it's pretty much a relative amounts guessing game since producers are not required to list actual ingredient measurements (just a list in "descending order by predominance") with which you might be able to estimate casein content.

If you still need data, you might have more luck in finding details on the casein content of food by trying casein measurement search terms and really digging into the results (I gave up after about a half hour):

"density of casein"
"high in casein"
"casein content"
"more casein than"
"grams of casein"
"contains casein"
"casein concentration"


Combing through forums for bodybuilders (who like to bulk up with casein and whey proteins) and autism (which is often said to be eased with a gluten-free and casein-free or GFCF diet) might produce first-hand knowledge from those really expert in determining casein content in lots of foods.

That said, researching exactly what biological response casein creates in the body of those who are allergic might help you to decide if you might actually prefer to dedicate yourself to a truly zero-casein diet v. sneaking in little bits here and there. Even the tiniest amount of an allergen will elicit antibodies in someone who is allergic.

And for those mentioning lactose-intolerancy -- lactose-intolerancy is an enzyme deficiency, casein allergy is an elevated immune response to a protein. Both conditions can cause digestive symptoms, but a casein allergy is more likely to affect the skin, respiratory tract, etc. as it is an immune-related disorder. In any case, it would be good to try and identify the true issue (not discounting hypersensitivity or a one-off experience) so you know what you might be battling.
posted by superfem at 7:43 PM on September 10, 2007

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