What Foods Contain Lactose?

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Lactose occurs naturally in dairy products such as milk, cheese, yogurt and ice cream, but it can also be present in many different prepared foods. Baked goods and batter mixes frequently have added lactose, as do some instant potatoes, soups and even some lunch meats and margarine.

One way to determine whether a given product contains lactose is to check the ingredients. While many products specifically label lactose as a potential allergen, there are a number of ingredients that indicate the presence of lactose in food. Whey, whey solids or proteins, curds, milk protein, milk solids, milk by-products and powdered milk all contain lactose and must be listed on ingredient panels.

Since those with lactose intolerance must avoid dairy products, it can be important to eat calcium-rich foods without lactose. Canned salmon and tuna, spinach, broccoli, almonds, and dark green, leafy vegetables are all good sources of calcium without milk sugars. Fortified orange juice and soy milk also contain healthy amounts of calcium without lactose.

While yogurt contains lactose, the active bacterial cultures present and relatively low levels of the milk sugar can sometimes make it palatable for those with lactose intolerance. Other options for those with difficulties digesting lactose include splitting portions up during the day and using over-the-counter enzyme supplements designed to aid in the digestion of lactose.