Lactose-free milk

How does lactose-free milk differ from regular milk?

If you have lactose intolerance, even just a glass of regular milk may trigger unpleasant symptoms. This article looks at the similarities and differences between lactose-free milk and regular milk.

Evidence-based
This article is based on scientific evidence, written by experts, and fact-checked by experts.
We look at both sides of the argument and strive to be objective, unbiased, and honest.

For many people, milk and other dairy products are off the table.

If you have lactose intolerance, even a glass of milk may trigger digestive distress with symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal pain.

Lactose-free milk is an easy alternative that could help eliminate many of these unpleasant symptoms.

However, many people are unsure about what exactly lactose-free milk is, how it’s made and how it compares to regular milk.

This article looks at the similarities and differences between lactose-free milk and regular milk.

What is lactose-free milk?

Lactose-free milk is a commercial milk product that is free of lactose.

Suggested read: Comparing milk: Almond, dairy, soy, rice, and coconut

Lactose is a type of sugar found in milk products that can be difficult for some people to digest.

Food manufacturers produce lactose-free milk by adding lactase to regular cow’s milk. Lactase is an enzyme produced by people who tolerate dairy products, which breaks down lactose in the body.

The final lactose-free milk has nearly the same taste, texture, and nutrient profile as regular milk. Conveniently, it can be used in the same way and can hence be swapped in for regular milk in your favorite recipes.

Summary: Lactose-free milk is a milk product that contains lactase, an enzyme that helps break down lactose. You can use lactose-free milk in place of regular milk in any recipe, as it has nearly the same taste, texture, and nutrient profile.

Lactose-free milk contains the same nutrients as milk

Even though lactose-free milk contains lactase to aid the digestion of lactose, it boasts the same impressive nutrient profile as regular milk.

Suggested read: How to make oat milk? Easy oat milk recipe

Like normal milk, the lactose-free alternative is a great source of protein, supplying about 8 grams in a 1-cup (240-ml) serving.

It’s also high in important micronutrients, such as calcium, phosphorus, vitamin B12, and riboflavin.

Plus, many types are enriched with vitamin D, an important vitamin involved in various aspects of your health but found in only a few food sources.

Therefore, you can switch out regular milk for lactose-free milk without missing out on any of the key nutrients that regular milk provides.

Summary: Like regular milk, lactose-free milk is a good source of protein, calcium, phosphorus, vitamin B12, riboflavin, and vitamin D.

Lactose-free milk is easier to digest for some people

Most people are born with the ability to digest lactose, the main type of sugar in milk.

However, it’s estimated that about 75% of the global population loses this ability as they age, resulting in a condition known as lactose intolerance.

Suggested read: How much caffeine does tea have compared with coffee?

This change typically occurs around 2–12 years of age. Some retain their ability to digest lactose into adulthood while others experience the decreased activity of lactase, the enzyme necessary for digesting and breaking down lactose.

For those with lactose intolerance, consuming regular lactose-containing milk can cause digestive issues, such as abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, and belching.

However, because lactose-free milk contains added lactase, it’s easier to tolerate for those with lactose intolerance, making it a good alternative to regular milk.

Summary: Lactose-free milk is easier to digest for people with lactose intolerance because it contains lactase, the enzyme used to break down lactose.

Lactose-free milk tastes sweeter than regular milk

A notable difference between lactose-free milk and regular milk is the flavor.

Lactase, the enzyme added to lactose-free milk, breaks lactose down into two simple sugars: glucose and galactose.

Suggested read: How to make rice milk? Easy rice milk recipe

Because your taste buds perceive these simple sugars as sweeter than complex sugars, the final lactose-free product has a sweeter flavor than regular milk.

Though this doesn’t change the nutritional value of the milk and the difference in flavor is mild, it may be worth keeping in mind when using lactose-free milk in place of regular milk for recipes.

Summary: In lactose-free milk, lactose is broken down into glucose and galactose, two simple sugars that give lactose-free milk a sweeter flavor than regular milk.

Lactose-free milk is still a dairy product

Though lactose-free milk can be a good alternative to regular milk for those with lactose intolerance, it may not be suitable for everyone as it’s still a dairy product.

For those with a dairy allergy, consuming lactose-free milk may cause an allergic reaction, resulting in symptoms like digestive distress, hives, and vomiting.

Additionally, because it’s produced from cow’s milk, it is unsuitable for those following a vegan diet.

Finally, those who choose to follow a dairy-free diet for personal or health-related reasons should avoid both regular and lactose-free milk.

Suggested read: How long does it take to lose weight?

Summary: Lactose-free milk should be avoided by those with a dairy allergy and individuals following a vegan or dairy-free diet.

Summary

Lactose-free milk is made by adding lactase to regular milk, breaking down lactose into simple sugars that are easier to digest.

Though it’s slightly sweeter, it can be a good alternative for people with lactose intolerance.

Still, it’s unsuitable for people with a dairy allergy or those avoiding dairy for other reasons.

Last updated on November 29, 2021, and last reviewed by an expert on November 22, 2021.
Share

More articles you might like

People who are reading “Lactose-free milk”, also love these articles:

Topics

Browse all articles