A product needs to be derived from milk in order to be considered dairy. Yogurt is produced mainly from cow’s milk, but technically it can be made from any mammal animal like a goat, sheep, or buffalo. Yogurt is considered dairy because it is made from milk. There are many reasons that people do not consume dairy products. One of those reasons is because of lactose.
Does Yogurt Have Lactose?
Regular yogurt, Greek yogurt, Icelandic yogurt and other styles of yogurt made from milk contain lactose unless they are marketed as lactose-free. The majority of yogurt found in the dairy section of the grocery store contains lactose. Lactose is a naturally occurring sugar in dairy and is the cause of lactose intolerance or lactose sensitivity in many people. People experience stomach digestive issues from lactose because they either cannot digest lactose or have difficulty breaking it down with an enzyme produced in the small intestine known as lactase. In most cases, problems from lactose occur because of a deficiency in lactase and not because of a lack of production of lactase. Lactose intolerance/sensitivity symptoms might include upset stomach, bloating, diarrhea, stomach rumblings, vomiting, and gas.
Can Lactose Intolerant Eat Yogurt?
Yogurt can be consumed by many people who are lactose intolerant. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that there was a greater absorption of lactose in the body when consuming yogurt compared to milk or water with a similar quantity of lactose. The subjects of the study reported less digestive problems with the yogurt than the milk or water mixture containing lactose.
Per the study, “The enhanced absorption of lactose in yogurt appeared to result from the intraintestinal digestion of lactose by lactase released from the yogurt organisms. This autodigesting feature makes yogurt a well-tolerated source of milk for lactase-deficient persons and may explain the widespread consumption of yogurt by lactase-deficient population groups.”
Yogurt’s benefit over many other dairy foods is that it contains good bacteria (probiotics). Essentially, the probiotics assist in breaking down the lactose to make the yogurt easier to digest compared to other dairy products. Note that flavored yogurt has been shown to be slightly less beneficial than plain yogurt in assisting with the breakdown of lactose.
Greek Yogurt Over Regular Yogurt
Greek yogurt is strained much more than regular yogurt, which is why it is much thicker. The straining process eliminates a good portion of the whey, which contains a lot of the lactose. Since regular yogurt is strained less, it contains more lactose. If you are sensitive to lactose, Greek yogurt will likely be tolerated much better than regular yogurt. Don’t be fooled by Greek-like yogurt products that aren’t strained like traditional Greek yogurt, but are thickened by added thickeners. These can have higher levels of lactose than that of traditionally strained Greek yogurt.
Lactose-Free Yogurt Brands
There are people who just cannot tolerate the lactose in yogurt or Greek yogurt. Fortunately, there are alternatives to traditional yogurt. Below we have provided a list of lactose-free or dairy-free yogurt brands and the flavors they provide. Note that dairy-free means that the product does not contain milk so it also does not contain lactose.
Green Valley Organics (Lactose-Free): plain, peach, honey, blueberry, vanilla, and strawberry.
Yoplait (Lactose-Free): cherry, peach, strawberry, and vanilla.
Liberte (Lactose-Free): Greek plain, Greek vanilla. Available in Canada.
Silk (Dairy-Free): peach & mango, blueberry, strawberry, vanilla, black cherry, tropical pineapple, and plain.
So Delicious (Dairy-Free): unsweetened coconut milk, unsweetened vanilla, blueberry coconut milk, chocolate coconut milk, passionate mango coconut milk, blueberry Greek coconut milk, plain Greek coconut milk, raspberry Greek coconut milk, strawberry Greek coconut milk, vanilla Greek coconut milk.
Nancy’s Organic Cultured Soy (Dairy-Free): plain, blackberry, strawberry, blueberry, mango, raspberry, and vanilla.
Stonyfield Organic O’Soy (Dairy-Free): raspberry, vanilla, blueberry, strawberry.
Amande Cultured Almondmilk (Dairy-Free): plain, blueberry, strawberry, coconut, cherry, peach, raspberry, vanilla.