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Dairy-Free and Lactose Free: Do You Know the Difference?
by Peter Bua on November 29, 2018
It’s common for people to assume that “dairy free” is the same as “lactose free.” But that’s actually not the case. Lactose free means the lactose—which is a type of sugar in milk—has been removed from the food. But dairy free means the food contains no dairy at all, which indicates it’s probably made of nuts, plants, or grains. So something could be lactose free, but not dairy free because it still has dairy in it, just without the lactose. If you’re still a little confused about the difference between dairy free and lactose free, read on for more information that may help. Whether you’re allergic to milk or lactose, you can safely enjoy these delicious dinners: 10 Amazing Dairy-Free Recipes for the Lactose Intolerant or Dairy-Free Eater
Dairy AllergyAn allergy to dairy is more often called a milk allergy, and it simply means your immune system reacts poorly to certain proteins in milk. Whey and casein are two milk proteins that tend to be the culprits for most people. When you’re allergic to dairy, you might experience mild symptoms, like itching, swelling, and hives on your skin. If you have more serious reactions, be prepared for wheezing, breathing issues, and loss of consciousness. Clearly, you must avoid dairy if you have an allergy to it, which means you need to stick to dairy-free foods. This is why it’s so important to understand the difference between dairy free and lactose free.
Dairy-Free FoodsSo what are dairy-free foods? This label refers to any foods that do not have milk proteins like casein and whey, and of course, by nature they also don’t have lactose. This means whether you’re dairy free or simply lactose free, anything labeled dairy free should be safe to eat or drink. If a product doesn’t say if it’s dairy free or not, check the ingredients. If it includes any of the following, it has dairy in it and is not safe for you:
- Milk powder
- Milk derivative
- Milk solids
- Condensed milk
- Evaporated milk
- Dried milk
- Sodium caseinate