All dairy contains lactose, the “milk sugar.” Lactose is found naturally in the milk of mammals, including cows and goats and the amount of lactose in different types of dairy products ranges. Of the different dairy categories, milks contain the most lactose, cheeses contain the least, and yogurts fall in between. Typically less lactose is better for dairy-sensitive stomachs!
While many joke about consuming a lactase pill in order to enjoy cheese pizza, cheese is actually quite low in lactose comparison to other dairy products. In order for cheese to be made, milk is thickened. This process involves draining the whey (liquid) from the curds (solids). The liquid is higher in lactose than the solids, which therefore, reduces the lactose remaining. Hard cheeses tend to have less than 1 gram of lactose per 1 oz. serving while softer cheeses can include up to 4 grams.
- Harder cheeses include: Parmesan (<0.001 g.), Swiss (0.02 g.), Cheddar (0.07 g.)
- Softer cheeses include: Goat (0.7 g.), American (1-4 g.), Ricotta (1.5 g.)
As a probiotic, yogurt contains bacteria. These bacteria contain lactase, the enzyme that can break down lactose. Therefore, the bacteria in yogurt help reduce the lactose content. Different types of yogurts contain different amounts of lactose. In a six ounce serving, Greek yogurt contains 2 fewer grams than plain whole-fat yogurt. Due to a similar process of making cheese, Greek yogurt production involves straining to remove a bit of liquid.
- In a 6 ounce serving:
- Greek yogurt contains 8-9 g.
- Whole-fat yogurt contains 10-12 g.
- Non-fat yogurt contains 13-17 g.
- At 12 grams of lactose in 1 cup of whole milk, milks contain the most lactose of all dairy products. Milk production does not involve removal of liquid, as is essential in cheese and yogurt production. However, the production of lower fat milks requires removal of some of the curds, which leads to a greater lactose content.
- In a 1 cup serving:
- Regular milk contains 12 g.
- Low-fat milk contains 13 g.
- Goat milk contains 9-11 g.
This information is for educational purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice. Please consult a physician before treating any disorder.