What is the lactose content of different dairy products?

The amount of lactose in dairy foods varies between products, ranging from 15g in a cup of milk to virtually zero in hard or mature cheeses.

Last updated 30/04/2021

Most dairy foods contain the natural sugar lactose, however some dairy foods contain very little or no lactose. Hard cheeses, such as cheddar and Parmesan, as well as matured cheeses such as brie, camembert and feta contain virtually no lactose because of the way they are made. Yoghurt contains good bacteria, which helps break down the lactose. The table below shows the lactose content of some common dairy foods.1

 

Dairy Food

Lactose Content (g)

Parmesan cheese, 40g

0.0

Cheddar cheese, 40g

0.04

Swiss style cheese, 40g

0.04

Camembert, 40g

0.04

Cream cheese, 22g

0.55

Cream, 20g (1 Tbsp)

0.6

Ice cream, 50g

1.65

Ricotta cheese, 120g

2.4

Yogurt (natural), 200g

10.0*

Regular milk, 250ml

15.75

 

*The lactose content in yogurt decreases each day, even while it sits in the fridge, because the natural bacteria present in yoghurt use up the lactose for energy.

If you have been diagnosed with lactose intolerance, there is no need to cut out all dairy foods from your diet, but rather adjust your lactose intake according to your own tolerance levels. In addition to hard and mature cheeses as well as yoghurt, the Australian Dietary Guidelines suggest that up to 250ml of milk (1 cup) may be well tolerated if broken up throughout the day and consumed with other foods. 2 You can also try building up your tolerance by starting with small amounts of milk and gradually increasing your intake.

If you suspect you might be intolerant to lactose, it's important to speak with an Accredited Practising Dietitian or experienced health professional before making dietary changes. Dairy foods are one of the five recommended food groups and contain important nutrients and have a range of proven health benefits.2

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