Top 6 Foods for Lactose Intolerant
The general rule of thumb is that people with lactose intolerance should avoid eating dairy products. The reason is simple, as dairy can cause unwanted side effects. Sometimes, these side effects can be potentially embarrassing, including gas.
But why avoid lactose foods all together? They are highly nutritious, and extremely healthy. The trick is to find foods that are low in lactose. Let’s break them down.
What is Lactose Intolerance?
Let’s first discuss what is lactose intolerance. The common digestive problem affects more than 75% of the world’s population. The condition is common in South America and Asia, but not so much in North America, Europe, and Australia.
Lactose intolerance is a condition that affects people who do not have enough lactase, an enzyme that can break down lactose. If you didn’t know, lactose is the main sugar in milk and milk products. When you do not have lactase, lactose passes through your gut undigested. That causes symptoms like gas, pain, bloating, nausea, and even diarrhea.
Naturally, people are afraid of suffering any of those symptoms when they are lactose intolerant. So, their natural reaction is to avoid dairy products altogether. But if you want to reap the benefits of dairy products, here are six foods that are low in lactose.
Butter is a high-fat dairy product. Made by churning milk, butter is made when the solid fat is separated from the liquid components. As a result, butter is made with 80% fat. The liquid part is almost all removed, and that is the part that contains lactose.
That makes butter a very low-lactose food. To put it into perspective, 3.5 ounces of butter contain just 0.1 grams of lactose. That little lactose is highly unlikely to cause any problems. And that applies to lactose intolerant people as well. But if you are still concerned, look for butter made from fermented milk products.
The process of making cheese includes adding bacteria to milk, and then separating the curds from the whey. Same as butter, most of lactose is found in the whey. When that is removed, you are left with a product that is low in lactose.
The amount of lactose in cheese vary, and usually depends on the type of cheese. The longer the cheese is aged, the more lactose is broken. That is why long aged, hard cheeses are extremely low in lactose. Cheddar cheese, for example, contains almost no lactose per 3.5 ounces (100g). Other cheeses you can try include Swiss and Parmesan.
On the other hand, avoid soft cheeses like Brie, Camembert, cottage cheese, mozzarella, and cheese spreads.
Made by skimming off the fatty liquid, heavy cream contains low amount of lactose, and higher amount of fat. Some people do not want heavy cream because it contains more fat than half and half and light cream. In that case, you can find an alternative, a substitute if you like.
But if heavy cream is your go-to cream, do not work about the lactose content. Half an ounce of heavy cream, or 15ml, contain just 0.5g of lactose. Small doses of heavy cream will cause little to no effect in your dessert.
Probiotic yogurt improves digestion. And people with lactose intolerance find that probiotic yogurt is much easier to digest, than, milk for example.
The reason is simple. Yogurt contains good bacteria that break down lactose and other proteins. You do not have to worry about any lactose.
Studies also show that only 20% of people with lactose intolerance report digestive stress after consuming yogurt. On the other hand, 80% of people with lactose intolerance report problems after consuming milk.
But do not buy just any type of yogurt. Always look for ones labeled “probiotic”. That means they contain live bacteria. On the other hand, pasteurized yogurt contains almost no bacteria.
Full fat yogurts are even better choice, as they contain even more fat, and less lactose.
Speaking of probiotic foods, we must mention kefir as well. This is a fermented beverage made by adding kefir grains to milk products. Same as yogurt, kefir contains life bacteria that help you digest and break down lactose.
When consumed in moderate quantities, kefir can actually reduce the symptoms of lactose intolerance by 50%.
Some Dairy Protein Powders
When you are lactose intolerant, choosing a protein powder is one of the hardest tasks. It is extremely challenging and tricky. The problem is most protein powders are made from the proteins in the milk whey. That is the very lactose-rich ingredient we talked earlier. Now, while whey protein is the most popular choice, you have to be careful which one to choose.
There are three types of whey protein. The first one is whey concentrate, with about 80% of protein, followed by whey isolate with 90% protein, and whey hydrolysate, with some of the protein partially digested.
The best option is whey isolate, as it contains the highest amount of protein, and the lowest amount of lactose. However, be careful, the lactose content can vary between brands. Always check the label. Some people have to experiment before finding the right product.