Food Sources of Lactose

Posted: Feb 8, 2013

Information about Lactose

Lactose is a natural sugar found in milk and dairy products. An enzyme called lactase is needed for your body to break down (digest) and absorb lactose.

Lactose Content of Some Common Foods

Lactose is found in all milk products and may be added as an ingredient to many different foods and beverages.
Read the ingredient list on product labels to find out if the product contains a lactose-containing food. Food items to look out for include:
Milk Milk solids Malted milk
Buttermilk Curds Cheese flavours
Non-fat milk powder Non-fat milk solids Sweet or sour cream
Lactose Whey Yogurt
Use the following table to help choose foods that are low in lactose. Most people are able to tolerate less than 6 g of lactose at one time. Eating small amounts of lactose-containing foods or beverages with a meal also helps to decrease symptoms of lactose intolerance.
Food Group Serving size Lactose (g)
Vegetables and Fruit
These foods contain very little lactose. Vegetables and fruits that may contain lactose include those prepared with milk or milk products such as creamed vegetables or covered in cream sauce, fruit in pudding or custard, or breaded and battered vegetables.
Grain Products
Some grain products are prepared with milk or milk products and may need to be avoided, or eaten in small amounts. Examples include waffles, crepes and pancakes, pasta or noodle mixes prepared with lactose-containing ingredients, and some breakfast cereals.
Milk and Alternatives
Sweetened, condensed 125 mL (½ cup) 15
Homogenized 3.3%, 2%, 1%, skim 250 mL (1 cup) 12-13
Hot chocolate, homemade, 3.3% or 2% milk 250 mL (1 cup) 12
Goat's milk 250 mL (1 cup) 11
Chocolate milk 250 mL (1 cup) 10
Buttermilk 250 mL (1 cup) 9
Ice milk 125 mL (½ cup) 9
Coffee latte, made with milk 175 mL (3/4 cup) 7
Yogurt (note: the cultures in yogurt help to digest lactose) 175 mL (3/4 cup) 6-8.5
Pudding and custard, made with milk 125 mL (½ cup) 6
Frozen yogurt 125 mL (½ cup) 4.5
Ice cream 125 mL (½ cup) 3-6
Cottage cheese 125 mL (½ cup) 3
Sour cream 60 mL (1/4 cup) 2
Evaporated milk 15 mL (1 Tbsp) 1.5
Cream cheese 50 g (1½ oz) 1.5
Blue cheese 50 g (1½ oz) 1
Cheese slice 1 slice (1 oz) less than 1
Hard cheese (mozzarella, Swiss/Emmental, Parmesan, cheddar) 50 g (1½ oz) less than 1
Lactaid® or Lacteeze® milk 250 mL (1 cup) less than 1
Soy beverage 250 mL (1 cup) 0
Rice beverage 250 mL (1 cup) 0
Soy yogurt 175 g (¾ cup) 0
Meat and Alternatives
These foods contain very little lactose. Meat and alternative products that may include lactose include those prepared with milk or milk products such as some processed meat, breaded or battered meat or fish, commercial egg substitutes, scrambled eggs, soufflés.
Fats and Oils
These foods contain very little lactose. Fat and oil products that may include lactose include those prepared with milk or milk products such as butter or margarine made with milk or whey powder and salad dressings (e.g. ranch style or buttermilk).
Other Foods
Prepared foods made with milk or milk products may include lactose. These include:
  • store bought gravy or sauce mixes
  • vegetable or chip dips
  • soups
  • chips or snack crackers (e.g. cheese or ranch flavoured)
  • sugar substitutes made with lactose (e.g. Equal®)
  • artificial whipped toppings
  • powdered meal replacement supplements
  • hot chocolate mixes
  • cream-based liqueurs.


Canadian Nutrient File available from [cited 2012 Dec 3]:

and Pennington JAT, Spungen JS. 2009. Bowes and Church's Food Values of Portions Commonly Used. 19th edition. Baltimore; Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. pg 359-371.