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Get the facts: what is lactose intolerance?

Lactose is the primary sugar found in dairy products. Lactase is an enzyme your body produces to help you digest that sugar. If you don’t have enough lactase, you might experience gas, bloating, cramps, or diarrhea after you eat foods containing lactose, like dairy products. That’s called being lactose-intolerant.

Who is at risk for lactose intolerance?

Lactose intolerance can affect anybody, but some people are at a higher risk, including older adults and those from African-American, Hispanic, Asian, or Jewish descent.

What foods contain lactose?

Lactose is the main sugar found in milk. Dairy foods like milk, cheese, ice cream, and more all contain lactose.
If you are lactose intolerant, talk with your doctor to get a complete list of foods you need to avoid on a lactose-free diet.

How much lactose is in my food?

Different types of dairy contain different amounts of lactose, and every body deals with lactose differently. Some people can tolerate a little, while others can tolerate a lot. That’s why your symptoms can be different depending on what you eat. 

See how much lactose is in the foods you’re eating.

Food and Beverages Lactose (g)
Milk: whole, low-fat, skim ( 1 cup ) 9-12
Buttermilk ( 1 cup ) 9-12
Goat milk ( 1 cup ) 9
Fat free dry milk ( 1/3 cup ) 12
Half and half ( 2 tbsp ) 1
Light cream ( 2 tbsp ) 1
Whipped Cream ( 2 tbsp ) 1
Sour cream ( 2 tbsp ) 1
Condensed milk, whole ( 2 tbsp ) 4
Evaporated milk ( 2 tbsp ) 3
Butter, margarine ( 1 tbsp ) Trace
Yogurt, low-fat ( 1 cup ) 5
Cottage Cheese ( 1/2 cup ) 2-3
Ice cream ( 1/2 cup ) 6-9
Sherbert ( 1/2 cup ) 2
Cheese: American, swiss, blue ( 1 oz. ) 1-2
Cheese: Cheddar, Parmesan ( 1 oz. ) 1-2
Cream cheese ( 1 oz. ) 1-2

Did you know? Lactose can hide in unlikely places

It’s not always easy to tell which foods contain lactose. Here is a list of foods that you may want to avoid if you have lactose intolerance:

Blueberry Muffins
  • Baked goods
  • Medications – both prescription & over the counter
  • Salad dressings and sauces
  • Instant oatmeal, granola, and cereal bars
  • Processed grains found in crackers, potato chips, and cereals
  • Soups
  • Rice and noodle mixes
  • Non-kosher processed meats, such as hot dogs, cold cuts, bacon, and sausages
  • Candy, including milk chocolate
  • Pancake, waffle, biscuit, and cookie mixes
  • Artificial sweeter packets
  • Creamy alcoholic beverages
  • Margarine


Remember: always read labels carefully to make sure that you know exactly what you’re eating. If you aren’t sure whether your food has lactose in it, or you simply want to indulge in your favorite dish, take a LACTAID® supplement with the first sip or bite. That way, you can enjoy dairy on the go – without worrying about that annoying lactose.

Enjoy dairy again with LACTAID® lactose-free food products!

Browse our selection of milk, ice cream, dairy supplements and more. And head over to our recipe hub to learn how to make delicious meals with LACTAID® for a lactose-free diet.

Take our quiz to find out

If you have discomfort after eating dairy, it could be lactose intolerance.

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Types of Dairy Sensitivity

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