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June 10, 2006 | Episode 23

Ice cream
The lactose-intolerant can rejoice: ice cream isn't necessarily bad for you.
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Dairy Products for the Lactose-Intolerant

A few surprising low-lactose foods

Yogurt

“Yogurt with active cultures generally has low traces of lactose,” says Roberta Anding, a registered dietitian in Houston and a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association (ADA). “When you put active cultures in yogurt, they digest the milk sugars for you.” However, she warns to look out for pasteurized yogurts that don’t have active cultures. “Not all yogurt is created equal,” she says.

Aged Cheeses

An ounce of cheese has only 1 to 2 grams of lactose, compared with 10 to 12 in a glass of milk, according to the ADA’s Complete Food and Nutrition Guide. “You may be able to deal with some of the aged cheeses, like Swiss and Cheddar,” says Patricia Raymond, a gastroenterologist in Chesapeake, Virginia, “because there’s a breakdown of the lactase in those.” This is good news for cheese lovers, but do watch how much you eat. While a single ounce doesn’t have much lactose, that’s also not a lot of cheese — and you could easily plow through a half-dozen ounces from the cheese plate at your friend’s next party.

Ice Cream

It’s time to celebrate: Ice cream is not necessarily a no-no for the lactose-challenged. “Ice cream is relatively well tolerated by many people with pretty significant lactose intolerance,” says Raymond. And Dee Sandquist, a registered dietitian at the Southwest Washington Medical Center, in Vancouver, Washington, and a member of the ADA, concurs: “Ice cream has a lot of other things in it, so proportionally it has much less milk.” On the downside, ice cream is also easy to overindulge in, and if you eat too much, it will quickly bump up the lactose levels, making for a not-exactly-sweet treat.

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