How Yogurt Can Fit Into Your Lactose-Intolerance Friendly Meal Plan
February is Lactose Intolerance Month and I’m here to discuss how you can still enjoy dairy products, specifically yogurt, if you’re lactose intolerant.
Lactose is the sugar found in milk and milk products. Lactose intolerance, a condition in which some individuals may have difficulty digesting and absorbing lactose, is a fairly uncommon condition with roughly only 1 out of 10 adults reporting it through self-diagnosis.
The good news is many individuals with this condition can still enjoy dairy products in small amounts. One important thing to note is that lactose intolerance differs from a milk allergy. A milk allergy causes an allergic reaction from the protein in milk whereas lactose intolerance is caused by the body not producing enough of the enzyme lactase which is needed to breakdown lactose.
Why Yogurt Is Lactose Intolerant Friendly
Thankfully yogurt is one of the dairy products you likely can enjoy if you’re lactose intolerant. This is because during the production of yogurt the lactose is broken down. The live and active cultures (probiotics) found in yogurt also help you digest the remaining lactose; however, be sure to check the label for “live and active cultures” to ensure you’re getting maximum benefit.
Benefits of Yogurt
Just like milk, yogurt has several essential nutrients including calcium, protein, riboflavin, potassium and magnesium. Of course there is a huge variety of yogurt products including fat-free, low-fat, Greek and regular yogurt. All yogurt has beneficial nutrients; however Greek yogurt has about double the protein, half the carbohydrates and half the sodium as regular yogurt.
Greek yogurt is also a healthy substitute in dips and can be added to baked goods. I personally buy both Greek and regular yogurt. I use Greek yogurt in smoothies and certain baked dishes, but I eat regular yogurt with cereal daily. Personally, I prefer the taste of regular yogurt versus Greek yogurt when eaten plain.
Simple Ways to Add Yogurt to Your Day
Yogurt is one of my favorite lactose-friendly dairy foods and it’s so simple to add into your day. Every morning I add yogurt to my cereal (typically homemade granola or whole grain cereal) and even my kids have followed suit. I started this habit years ago when I studied abroad in Spain and my host parents ate this combination. I’ve been hooked ever since! Of course smoothies are an excellent way to add yogurt to your diet as well. I recently started making smoothies and can’t get enough of them now.
I love that smoothies are incredibly versatile since you can combine so much variety and it still turns out delicious! You can also substitute yogurt for sour cream and use it as a vegetable dip.
Besides yogurt, many other dairy products are considered to be lactose intolerance-friendly, including hard and aged cheese (such as Cheddar, Colby, Monterey Jack, Parmesan and Swiss), and lactose free milk (this is still real milk just with lactose removed).
As you can see, lactose intolerance does not mean you need to avoid all dairy products. Thankfully, there are several options you can choose from while not missing out on the important nutrients dairy provides.