Is Greek Yogurt Lactose Free?

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Do you really want to eat yogurt? Have you heard that greek yogurt might have some health benefits and you’ve decided to try it out? Great! 

The problem is though, you’re lactose intolerant. You need to know if Greek yogurt is lactose free.

We’re going to take a look at these things.

First, we will look at the differences between Greek yogurt and other yogurts and what that might mean for you and lactose intolerance. 

So, get ready for a treat! Let’s start by examining Greek yogurt. 

Greek Yogurt vs Regular Yogurt 

Both yogurts are fermented dairy products. They’re both created by converting the sugar of lactose into a lactic acid with bacteria.

These starter cultures are the yogurt’s “good bacteria.” Their nutrient contents and overall taste differ though in the process of making them. 

Regular yogurt is normally sweeter than Greek yogurt. It’s created by heating the milk and then introducing the bacteria. It is then allowed to ferment and reaches a pH level of about 4.5.

After this, other ingredients like fruit or chocolate are added. It can be thick or thin so some are made specifically to drink, whereas others require a spoon to consume. 

When making Greek yogurt, the whey is removed in the process. Whey is a strong source of lactose, so removing the whey usually removes most of its lactose content.

Due to the process, it requires much more milk to make the same batch volume as regular yogurt. Cloth bags are often used to strain the yogurt and get it to the right texture and consistency.

If a different process is implemented like a thickening agent – it must be called Greek-style yogurt.

Due to the amount of liquid that is lost, Greek yogurt is normally much thicker than regular yogurt. It can also be more costly to buy, due to the amount of milk that is required to make it. 

They both have excellent nutritional value. Greek yogurt is more calorie dense, but is generally lower in fat and sugar and significantly higher in protein content.

They’re normally both high in potassium and magnesium and filled with vitamins like vitamin B12.

The amount of fat and sugar in either yogurt will vary depending on factors such as the fat content of the milk that was used and what additives were introduced (such as fruit). 

They’re both full of probiotics which can help your overall digestive health. Good bacteria will aid in balancing the gut’s microbiome which can often support a healthy digestive tract and immune system. 

There have been multiple studies that suggest regular consumption of yogurt can play a role in reducing health risks such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and cholesterol level.

Due to their high protein content, yogurt is an excellent aid in weight management and general fitness. Protein can give us a feeling of fullness and can maintain muscle strength post-workouts.

The introduction of good bacteria can also help with the body’s metabolism – which is even further boosted when taken while maintaining good exercise habits and a healthy, balanced diet. 

Is Greek Yogurt Good if You’re Lactose Intolerant?

Due to the whey being removed, Greek yogurt is better for those with lactose intolerance. If you have a lot of trouble with dairy, then you may still struggle with bloating, gas, or diarrhea after consuming Greek yogurt.  

In milder cases of lactose intolerance (people who tend to tolerate cheese, but not liquid dairy products), you may be able to tolerate Greek yogurt without any gastrointestinal distress.

Probiotics can help the body to digest lactose, but regular yogurt can be extremely high in lactose.

It’s better to opt for Greek yogurt if you are lactose intolerant. Moreover, it will also depend on what you’re eating the yogurt with and if there are any additives. 

Some regular yogurts can also contain some fruits or other dairy products like chocolate, which will trigger some lactose intolerance symptoms such as bloating, excessive gas or diarrhea. 

Greek yogurt can even be used as a healthier substitute for sour cream.

Another great thing about yogurt is that the majority of them are gluten free (but not all).

Which means if you have lactose intolerance and a gluten intolerance, you can enjoy a healthy snack or use it to make a delicious meal. 

Using Greek Yogurt In Cooking 

Greek yogurt is usually far less sweet than regular yogurt and is normally much thicker – making it ideal in some cooking processes.

Many dips and sauces can be created using Greek yogurt, and some can offer some additional gastrointestinal or digestive benefits.

Making curry for example. You can make a mild curry using Greek yogurt and introduce turmeric – which is used in Indian flavorings. Turmeric has been used for digestive problems for centuries. 

You can also use Greek yogurt to make a lowered lactose mayonnaise or sour cream and even some salad dressings.

It can be less expensive to make your own sauces and ingredients that are lower in lactose than trying to search the store and find specific ones. 

Regular yogurt is better for making things like smoothies and ice creams. However, if you’re lactose intolerant – this isn’t specifically advised as it may exacerbate some symptoms. 

Greek Yogurt and Lactose Content Key Points 

The bottom line – yes, Greek yogurt has reduced lactose content compared to many dairy products, but it is not necessarily lactose free. There are lactose free products available for Greek yogurt, but for most Greek yogurts, it would be more appropriate to call them lowered lactose. 

Greek yogurt and regular yogurt can be fine to consume if you are lactose intolerant due to their ability to help with the digestion of lactose – some people with lactose intolerance may still experience symptoms like bloating or gas after eating regular yogurt, meaning it’s better to choose Greek yogurt. 

Greek yogurt is high in protein, vitamins and minerals, which make it an excellent aid in weight management and fitness.

However, it is important to remember that not all yogurts are the same. You have to read the labels to guarantee what you’re going to consume. 

As some yogurts introduce fruits in their production, the level of sugars such as fructose can be high and if full fat milk is used, the level of fats will increase.

Due to these factors, some health benefits of yogurt will be hindered. Always read the label!

Here are other articles on lactose intolerance and yogurt you might want to check out:

Written and Medically Reviewed By

  • Chelsea Cleary, RDN

    Chelsea is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) specializing in holistic treatment for chronic digestive disorders such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), SIBO, and Crohn’s disease. She educates patients on how they can heal themselves from their conditions by modifying lifestyle and dietary habits.

  • Julie Guider, M.D.

    Dr. Julie Guider earned her medical degree from Louisiana State University School of Medicine. She completed residency in internal medicine at the University of Virginia. She completed her general gastroenterology and advanced endoscopy fellowships at University of Texas-Houston. She is a member of several national GI societies including the AGA, ACG, and ASGE as well as state and local medical societies.