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 eat certain dairy products, without the typical side effects of lactose intolerance.
- 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: 12-13 grams of lactose
- 1 cup Ultra-Filtered Milk – 6 grams lactose per serving
- 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 & half – trace amounts (less than 0.5 grams lactose per two tablespoons)
- Aged parmesan cheese – trace amounts (e.g. <0.2 grams lactose per ounce)
- Butter – trace amounts (essentially 0 lactose per teaspoon)
If you suspect 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 to digest lactose.
Also available: lactose-free versions of milk, yogurt, cheese, and cottage cheese, as well as milk alternatives like unsweetened coconut or almond milk.
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