Greek Yogurt For Lactose Intolerance

  • Article
  • 2 min read April 12, 2021

Does Greek yogurt have lactose? The answer is yes. But thanks to its unique makeup, many people with lactose intolerance can enjoy it too. Because of its straining and fermentation processes, Greek yogurt has less lactose than regular yogurt, milk and even ice cream. Its live and active cultures help break down the lactose it contains, making it easier to digest.

A bowl of vegetables dressed with Greek yogurt next to another bowl and a fork.

The Lactose in Greek Yogurt

If you’re lactose intolerant, you might wonder: Does Greek yogurt have dairy? Made from cow’s milk, it does. However, Greek yogurt has less than 1 gram of lactose per ounce—less lactose than milk and about half the lactose of some other yogurts. Yet just like regular and Icelandic yogurts, Greek yogurt contains live and active cultures (aka “good bacteria”) that aids in overall digestion and also helps break down more lactose than it brings into the body.

Think of it this way: Lactose is a natural sugar in milk made up of two simple sugars, glucose and galactose. Lactose intolerance happens when we don’t make enough lactase—the natural enzyme that breaks lactose down into these two simpler sugars. That’s when yogurt’s live and active cultures step in and help.

The Nutrients in Greek Yogurt

There are many reasons to enjoy Greek yogurt—from its thick and tangy flavor to its nutrition to its versatility. It offers nine essential nutrients like calcium, zinc and vitamin B12 and is also packed with high-quality protein. On average, plain Greek Yogurt has more than 16 grams of protein in a 6-ounce serving helping you stay fuller longer.

That’s part of why Greek yogurt is a perfect lactose-friendly substitute for mayo, oil, cream cheese and more. Greek yogurt is the perfect flavorful addition to breakfast and game day chip and dip spreads.

Lactose-Free Greek Yogurt

While Greek yogurt contains some lactose, there are also lactose-free options. It is still real dairy, just without the lactose. Available in a variety of flavors, lactose-free Greek yogurt still has the beneficial cultures and nutrients you’ll find in regular Greek yogurt, so you can continue enjoying supreme flavor and extreme health benefits without missing a beat.

A bowl of Greek yogurt with a spoon on a napkin next to a jug, a glass of milk, grated cheese, almonds, and strawberries.

Trouble With Lactose? Don’t Worry

Symptoms of lactose intolerance may include abdominal pain, bloating, flatulence and diarrhea. If you’re experiencing this, you can go to a physician to confirm whether you have lactose intolerance—a self-diagnosis isn’t always accurate. If you are lactose intolerant, a registered dietitian can help you understand options tailored to your level of tolerance.

The good news is most people with lactose intolerance can often tolerate small amounts of lactose, especially as part of meals or snacks, so try including dairy with your meals or choose dairy foods with low or no lactose, like natural cheeses or strained yogurts (e.g., Greek or Icelandic). Then, gradually increase your portion sizes to find a comfort level. After all, not all dairy foods have the same amount of lactose. Check out this chart to learn more about the amount of lactose in each type of dairy food.