Lactose is the primary sugar in dairy products. When someone is lactose intolerant it means that person has difficulty digesting the lactose. Lactose intolerance is caused by a deficiency of lactase, an enzyme produced by the small intestine that breaks down lactose into glucose and galactose. It can cause bloating, cramps, diarrhea, gas, and/or a feeling of sickness.
The level of tolerance varies from person to person; therefore, one person may be sensitive to a few bites/sips of dairy while another may be able to tolerate something like a large glass of milk. Not all dairy products are created equal when it comes to their lactose content.
This article specifically takes a look at the lactose content of Greek yogurt. We explain if it has lactose and if so, we inform you how it compares to other dairy.
Does Greek Yogurt Have Lactose?
Greek yogurt does have lactose, but unlike regular yogurt, a lot of the lactose is removed during the straining process of its liquid whey. Whey holds a healthy portion of lactose and regular yogurt has more of it than Greek yogurt. Greek yogurt typically has half the lactose content of regular yogurt.
Purdue University states that yogurt is far superior to milk in regard to lactose digestion. The enzymes in yogurt appear to help add the digestion of the lactose. Furthermore, the high protein content of Greek yogurt assist in reducing digestion time which helps the body better digest lactose.
A 6-ounces serving of Greek yogurt has about 2-4 grams of lactose, whereas the same serving size of plain regular yogurt has approximately 5.5-8.5 grams. In comparison, milk has about 9 grams and sour cream has around 6.75 grams of lactose per 6 ounce serving size.
Generally, people with lactose intolerance can consume a maximum of 12 grams of lactose at one time or up to 18 grams spread out during the day with minimal or no symptoms.
However, lactose tolerance certainly varies from person to person. Discovering your own tolerance is often a matter of trial and error where you slowly increase your dairy (lactose) and take note of how you feel as you go.
If you’re dealing with lactose intolerance or dairy sensitivity, it’s important to know that eating a meal while consuming dairy products can slow down digestion, making lactose easier to digest in the body.
Despite its somewhat lower lactose content, many people still cannot stomach Greek yogurt. The good news is that more and more companies are producing lactose-free yogurt or alternatives. There aren’t a lot Greek yogurt options but you may also wish to consider some regular or dairy-free option as well.
A few brands that offer lactose-free options are listed below:
Liberte – They make plain and vanilla 0% lactose-free yogurt.
Fage – Fage produced a reduced-fat plain Greek yogurt without lactose. The product is called Fage BestSelf Lactose-Free Plain Greek Yogurt.
Green Valley Creamery – This brand used to make lactose-free yogurt but the demand wasn’t there so they suspened production. However, they still make several varieties of regular yogurt that is lactose-free.
Yoplait Lactose-Free – Yoplait make strawberry and French vanilla single-serve lactose-free yogurt.
There are also several dairy-free yogurt brands that you might consider. Some of these brands include:
Compared to regular yogurt, Greek yogurt typically has lower lactose content, making it a viable choice for many individuals with lactose intolerance. Additionally, the high protein and enzymes found in Greek yogurt aid in lactose digestion. In comparison to other dairy product, its lactose content is relatively low, making it one of the favorites of people who wish to enjoy dairy without the burdensome symptoms involved.