Dairy Options for the Lactose Intolerant

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May is Food Allergy Awareness Month,a time to raise awareness for those who experience an allergic reaction to specific food items. It is also a time to recognize lactose intolerance, one of the most common food allergies in the world.

Defined as the inability to digest lactose, the natural sugar found in milk, lactose intolerance is estimated to affect nearly 30 million to 50 million Americans each year, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Despite popular belief, however, being lactose intolerant does not mean that you have to give up dairy entirely. There are plenty of healthy, nutritious, DAIRY options available for consumers to enjoy. 

Take a look at the list of lactose intolerant friendly products we have provided below:

Lactose-free milk – In today’s grocery stores, there are a wide array of lactose-free milks offered in the dairy aisle. To make the product, food manufacturers add lactase, an enzyme produced by people who tolerate dairy products, to break down the lactose in the food. The final lactose-free milk has nearly the same taste, texture and nutrient profile as regular milk, according to a Healthline article.

Hard Cheese - As a general rule, the fresher the cheese, the more lactose it contains, so sensitive stomachs will want to avoid creamier varieties of cheese such as ricotta or cottage cheese, according to Real Simple.Aged hard cheeses like swiss, parmesan and cheddars, however, have relatively low lactose levels. Therefore, they should be less likely to cause digestive issues if eaten in small quantities.

Greek Yogurt – For the lactose intolerant, certain varieties of yogurt have typically been a “no-go” due to the amount of lactose they contain. Greek yogurt, however, is an option because of its thicker viscosity due to the removal of whey and a good portion of the lactose. According to Healthy Eating,Greek yogurt supplies less than 6.8 grams of lactose per 6-ounce serving, compared to less than 8.5 grams in whole-fat yogurt or 14 grams in non-fat yogurt, making it a great alternative to other yogurt varieties high in lactose.

Before you begin consuming these products, talk with your doctor to formulate a diet that best suits your lifestyle. Keep portions small at first to avoid digestive distress. It may also be helpful to record just how much dairy you consume each day to generate a threshold that is appropriate for your dietary needs.

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