For those who are lactose intolerant, dairy is typically 100% off-limits. But if you love your milk and cheese, you’ll be happy to know that there’s a good chance that you can still enjoy certain dairy products, without the typical side effects of lactose intolerance. Read on for a list of five dairy foods that are naturally low in lactose.
What is lactose?
- Lactose is a naturally occurring sugar in dairy products that requires the enzyme lactase to be digested. Symptoms of lactose intolerance include abdominal pain, gas, bloating, diarrhea.
- Most people with lactose intolerance can’t tolerate regular cow’s milk, but they may still be able to have foods like yogurt, cheese, and butter without issue, since they’re actually very low in lactose.
- Check the sugar content of dairy products; if it’s zero, or close to it, that means the product contains zero or close to zero lactose.
5 dairy foods naturally low in lactose
(Frame of reference: 1 cup cow’s milk contains 12-13 grams of lactose, while 1 cup of ultra-filtered milk contains 6 grams of lactose.)
- Greek yogurt: 6 grams lactose per 6-7 ounces. Note: The probiotics in yogurt help to digest the lactose for us.
- Cottage cheese: 3 grams lactose per 4-ounce serving
- Half and half: Trace amounts (less than 0.5 grams lactose per two tablespoons)
- Aged parmesan cheese: Trace amounts (less than 0.2 grams lactose per ounce)
- Butter: Trace amounts (essentially 0 lactose per teaspoon)
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A few other tips
- If you suspect you may have lactose intolerance, eliminate all lactose-containing foods to see if symptoms improve. Then, gradually add products back in, one-by-one, to determine how much lactose you can tolerate.
- Taking the lactase enzyme (in the form of Lactaid pills, for example) can help your body to digest lactose.
- Check out your local grocery store for lactose-free versions of milk, yogurt, cheese and cottage cheese, as well as non-dairy milk alternatives like unsweetened coconut and almond milk.
Editor’s note: A version of this article originally appeared on WGNO’s “Get the Skinny” segment.