Many people think that lactose-free and dairy-free are the same thing, but they are actually completely different. This is extremely important to know for those with dietary restrictions.
Dairy-free means that product doesn’t contain milk or ingredients that come from milk. Milk is naturally high in protein while dairy-free products typically don’t contain as much protein. For example, one 8oz of milk has roughly 8 grams of protein and the same amount of silk almond milk contains only one gram of protein.
“While there are many dairy-free alternatives available, people considering dairy-free alternatives should look at the label to make sure they are getting the nutrients they are looking for,” she says. “For example, calcium and vitamin D are two extremely important nutrients often found in dairy products. Now, many dairy alternatives are also fortified with these nutrients as well to help consumers better meet their recommended daily intake levels while sticking to their dietary preferences.”
Lactose-free means that the product still has dairy in it but does not have milk’s sugar, lactose. “Lactose is either removed by adding the enzyme lactase to milk or by using an ultrafiltration technique.”
People who are lactose-free and still want to reap the protein benefits from a dairy-based product without having to worry about experiencing adverse reactions.
However, people who have an allergy to milk should stick to dairy-free products and shouldn’t consume lactose-free products at all.
“While people who experience intolerance to lactose may enjoy these products, the FDA makes it clear that this label does not protect a person who is allergic to dairy products,” says Blechman. “If someone is looking to avoid dairy, they should look for products that are specifically labeled dairy-free.”
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