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Lactose-Free Milk: Pros and Cons

Gone are the days when two-percent and skim milk were the only options. Food manufacturers created lactose-free milk for people who experience lactose intolerance.

What is lactose-free milk? 

But what is lactose-free milk? Is it healthy? What are the benefits of lactose-free milk? Are there any drawbacks to drinking it? Is it possible to make lactose-free milk at home? We’ll answer all of these questions about lactose-free milk in this article. Read on!

Lactose is a type of sugar found in dairy milk. A certain amount occurs naturally in cow’s milk. It can also be found in smaller traces in goat’s milk and sheep’s milk. To put it simply, lactose-free milk is milk without lactose.

How lactose-free milk is made

Lactose isn’t removed from lactose-free milk. Instead, manufacturers add an enzyme called lactase during processing. Lactase helps the digestive system break down lactose. There are a variety of lactose-free products available, including lactose-free whole milk, skim milk, and cream.

Adding lactase is the most common way of producing lactose-free milk. Other methods include removing lactose by passing the milk over lactase or mechanically separating lactose from milk. The more complicated the manufacturing process, the more expensive the product is.

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Many people want to know how to make lactose-free milk at home. Even though the commercial process for removing lactose requires special machinery, the same results can be achieved by using a lactase supplement. 

Lactase enzyme supplements are available in liquid or capsule form from most health food stores. By adding the required amount to regular milk according to the directions on the label and then waiting approximately 24 hours, your lactose-free milk will be ready to go!

Benefits of lactose-free milk 

Now that we’ve explained what lactose-free milk is, we’ll go over whether it’s healthy. There are some reported benefits to drinking it, compared to regular milk. 

  • Lactose in milk is often what causes symptoms like feeling bloated, gassy, or nauseous after eating dairy products. In some cases, switching to lactose-free options can help alleviate those symptoms.
  • Lactose-free milk has a similar nutrient profile to regular cow’s milk, so it still has the same vitamins, minerals, calcium, and protein.

A balanced diet is an important part of staying healthy and reduces the likelihood of overeating. Be sure to incorporate lots of fresh fruits and vegetables throughout the day, and limit your consumption of processed foods.

Disadvantages of lactose-free milk 

Despite its benefits, there are also a few negatives to drinking lactose-free milk. Lactose is a natural sugar, so manufacturers may add sweeteners to certain lactose-free products to replace it.

Always check the nutritional label and ingredient list when shopping for lactose-free milk. Consuming food and drinks with added sugars may lead to sugar cravings.

Health care providers usually recommend a balanced diet that includes as few refined foods as possible. Both lactose-free milk and regular milk are considered processed foods because they’re treated with heat and chemicals to make them safe for consumption. Lactose-free milk sometimes requires more extensive processing than regular milk.  

Many of the disadvantages of drinking lactose-free milk are the same as with regular milk. New research suggests that an excessive intake of dairy products can increase the risks of cancer and heart disease. Water is a great choice to stay healthy and hydrated.

Is lactose-free the same as dairy-free? 

Lactose-free milk is still made from cow’s milk, so it is not the same as dairy-free milk. People with a dairy allergy should avoid any type of dairy, including those labeled “lactose-free.”

There’s a wide array of dairy-free alternatives on the market these days. Plant-based milk is typically made from vegetables, grains, or legumes. Non-dairy options like almond milk, soy milk, oat milk, flax milk, coconut milk, and rice milk can often be found in grocery stores.

For people who love the taste of dairy milk and are lactose-intolerant, lactose-free options can be a great alternative. Be sure to check out Flo for more health, diet, and lifestyle tips!

Dekker, Peter J T, et al. “Lactose-Free Dairy Products: Market Developments, Production, Nutrition and Health Benefits.” Nutrients, MDPI, 5 Mar. 2019, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6471712/.

Heinz F Hammer, and Christoph Högenauer. “Lactose Intolerance: Clinical Manifestations, Diagnosis, and Management.” UpToDate, www.uptodate.com/contents/lactose-intolerance-clinical-manifestations-diagnosis-and-management?search=lactose%20free%20diet.

Javier Fontecha, Maria Visitación Calvo, Manuela Juarez, Angel Gil, Vicente Martínez-Vizcaino, “Milk and Dairy Product Consumption and Cardiovascular Diseases: An Overview of Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses, Advances in Nutrition.” Volume 10, Issue suppl_2, May 2019, Pages S164–S189, https://doi.org/10.1093/advances/nmy099.

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