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What Are the Benefits of Lactose-Free Milk?

6 mins read
Taisiia Dobrozorova
Written by Taisiia Dobrozorova on August 16, 2022
Ievgeniia Dobrynina
Fact checked by Ievgeniia Dobrynina
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Dr. Olena Avdiievska, MD, RDN
Medically reviewed by Dr. Olena Avdiievska, MD, RDN
Unimeal provides articles with trustworthy and experts-proved information. Our health content is reviewed by professional nutritionists and trainers to extract for users the most verified and medically checked data.

Contemporary bars offer all sorts of milk to add to your ordered cup of coffee or bowl of granola. Among other natural alternatives to regular cow milk is lactose-free milk. Why is it becoming more and more popular and is it healthy only for people with lactose intolerance? Let’s find out together.

Table of content

What is lactose-free milk, and how is it made?

Lactose, or milk sugar, is a disaccharide in milk and dairy products. The lactose molecule comprises two other molecules, glucose and galactose. This substance determines the sweetness of milk, cream, and butter.

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The traditional way to reduce the amount of lactose in dairy products is fermentation. For example, in the manufacture of fermented milk products or when ripening cheese, lactose naturally breaks down, since when adding a starter culture, bacteria feed on milk sugar.

The process of lactose-free milk production
The process of lactose-free milk production

There are also so-called technological ways to reduce the lactose content in products. The most common way to make lactose-free milk is to carry out membrane filtration and add the lactase enzyme to the product. The enzyme will break down up to 98% of the lactose in milk.

Nutrition

Lactose-free milk, like ordinary milk, contains a lot of valuable nutrients such as:

Protein - forms muscle tissue and participates in metabolic processes.

Calcium is a building material for bones, teeth, nails, and hair, necessary for blood clotting, proper muscle, and neural reactions.

Potassium - regulates the water balance and normalizes the work of the heart.

Nutrition of lactose-free milk
Nutrition of lactose-free milk

Phosphorus - along with calcium and vitamin D, ensures bone strength.

Vitamin D - increases immunity and helps in the assimilation of calcium.

Vitamins of group B - support the nervous system and facilitate the metabolism of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates.

Vitamin A is a "growth" vitamin responsible for visual function, healthy skin, and immunity.

Is lactose-free milk healthy?

Healthy elements of lactose-free milk
Healthy elements of lactose-free milk

Lactose-free milk is an excellent food product, a source of protein, vitamins, and trace elements. The harm of such a product has not been scientifically proven.

Lactose-free milk is beneficial for children. A growing organism needs the compounds present in dairy products, and such easily digestible milk will not cause problems.

Disadvantages

Adding antibiotics to the product is the main lactose-free milk drawback
Adding antibiotics to the product is the main lactose-free milk drawback

If we talk about the side effects of lactose-free milk, there are very few. In rare cases, it may contain hormones that are given to cows to increase milk production, as well as antibiotics. For this reason, it is essential to buy milk from reliable producers.

Lactose-free milk vs. regular milk

In terms of its nutritional properties, it is no different from ordinary cow's milk. Still, unlike it, it is suitable for everyone without causing negative symptoms of gastrointestinal tract disorders.

In terms of taste, lactose-free milk is close to traditional milk, but the split lactose into glucose and galactose acquires a sweeter taste.

Lactose-free milk vs. regular milk
Lactose-free milk vs. regular milk

Comparative table of regular and lactose-free milk

Composition

Regular milk

Lactose-free milk

Energy value (kcal)

46

39

Proteins (g)

3,2

3,3

Carbs (g)

4,8

3,1

Lactose (g)

4,8

0,01

Fat (g)

1,5

1,5

Calcium (mg)

120

120

Types of lactose-free milk

Types of lactose-free milk
Types of lactose-free milk

In addition to other advantages, lactose-free milk can significantly diversify your diet. For example, the most popular types of plant-based lactose-free milk include:

  • Almond milk - the most popular type of lactose-free plant-based milk. It is delicate and creamy in taste, so it perfectly replaces the usual cow product.
  • Soy milk - popular in Asian countries, where people use it for making tofu. It has a mild creamy taste and a rich set of amino acids. Due to the high protein content, it is suitable  for athletes' nutrition.
  • Oat milk - light milk with a sweetish taste. Contains protein globulin, which is a good substitute for animal protein.
  • Rice milk - does not contain gluten; therefore, it is considered the most versatile dietary product.
  • Coconut-based milk - the only non-lactose food that contains lauric acid. In small doses, it is ideal for boosting immunity.

Manufacturers often enrich such products with calcium, easily digestible protein, vitamins, prebiotics, and valuable plant extracts. You can drink it just like that, add it to coffee, tea, pancake batter, porridge, and cereal; prepare milkshakes, puddings, and other vegan desserts.

How do you check if you are lactose intolerant?

A girl feels bloating
A girl feels bloating

The main symptoms of lactose intolerance, which appear half an hour (sometimes within two hours) after eating a product with lactose, are:

  • bloating,
  • abdominal pain or colic
  • rumbling in the stomach,
  • excessive gas,
  • loose stools or diarrhea,
  • nausea, vomiting.

Usually, the doctor establishes the diagnosis of lactose intolerance based on the patient's symptoms. But do not self-diagnose until you visit the therapist.

The final word

Lactose-free milk is regular natural milk, only without lactose. It contains vital nutrients, vitamins, and proteins that have a beneficial effect on the human body. 

Non-lactose milk is a lifesaver for people with lactase deficiency. So, even if a person has such problems, this is not a reason to refuse dairy products - you can simply replace them with lactose-free ones. Today the market offers a variety of lactose-free products so that you can choose something that explicitly suits your taste!

How do you feel about my article?

Unimeal does not diagnose or suggest treatments. Any description of the diet, training plan or supplement should be discussed with your current physician or nutritionist. This article does not address specific conditions and is simply meant to provide general information on healthcare topics. Following any advice is at your own initiative and does not impose any responsibility on the blog authors for your health and safety.

Sources:

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