You have likely heard about lactose as of late, but you may not know what it is. Lactose is found in animal milk. Specifically, it is a sugar in animal milk. People who are lactose intolerant or lactose sensitive either cannot break down lactose in the body or have difficulty doing so. This is because they lack sufficient lactase which is naturally produced in the small intestine. Lactase is an enzyme that helps digest lactose. Not having enough lactase in the body can create difficulties in the body particularly in the abdominal region. Common symptoms of lactose problems include upset stomach, cramps, bloating, gas, diarrhea or loose stool, vomiting, and stomach rumblings. That being said, you likely came here to find out if butter does have lactose.
Does Butter have Lactose?
As many people know, butter is a dairy product that is derived from milk. Butter does contain lactose because it is a milk-based product. However, the lactose percent in butter is very low at approximately 1 percent or slightly less. Generally, any dairy product with 2 percent or less of lactose can be tolerated by most people in reasonable serving sizes. This includes people with lactose intolerance or those sensitive to lactose.
You may be wondering why butter is so low in lactose. Butter is made from buttercream that is placed into a churner that spins around until the liquid (buttermilk) is separate out from the solid portion (butter). The buttermilk is eventually drained out of the churner leaving just the butter. The buttermilk liquid is actually what contains most of the lactose so by draining it away, most of the lactose is released from the butter.
Can Lactose Intolerant Eat Butter?
This is a tough question to answer with a yes or no because a person’s lactose tolerance will vary from person-to-person. However, in moderation, butter is a dairy food that can be tolerated by many people (including lactose intolerant) because of its low lactose content. Additionally, you typically are not going to eat huge amounts of butter in a sitting. You figure on something like a baked potato you are only consuming about a tablespoon or less.
If you have any sensitivities to dairy (butter), it is best to start with small serving sizes to see how your body reacts. You can increase the serving size after a few times if you have no adverse symptoms. Gradually work your way up to a normal serving size over time while routinely monitoring your intake and your body’s reaction to the butter. Do not eat additional dairy products outside of the butter while you are testing your body for lactose. This way you can isolate your sensitivity to the butter alone.
There are people out there that cannot stomach butter despite its low lactose. Other people just do not care to eat dairy. For whatever the reason not to eat dairy-based butter, there are alternatives that you can find in the grocery store that do not contain lactose. Two brands to consider are Smart Balance and Earth Balance to use as spreads. In baking, you can substitute out butter for various oils like canola, olive oil, and coconut oil. If a product is lactose-free or dairy-free the label will usually indicate as such if the product traditionally has lactose. Check with the manufacturer when in doubt or just avoid buying the product if you are unsure.
In conclusion, does butter have lactose? The answer is yes, but it is minimal and likely not a concern for most people. There is lactose-free butter if you happen to be intolerant to butter. People who are very sensitive to lactose may need to experiment to see how well their body reacts to butter over time. It may be just a matter of finding the right balance for your body.