Last updated: August 9, 2021

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Welcome to our big lactose-free milk test 2021. Here we present lactose-free milk that we have tested in detail. We have compiled detailed background information and added a summary of customer reviews on the internet.

We would like to make your purchase decision easier and help you find the best lactose-free milk for you.

You will also find answers to frequently asked questions in our guide. If available, we also offer interesting test videos. Furthermore, you will also find some important information on this page that you should be aware of if you want to buy lactose-free milk.




Summary

  • Lactose-free milk is milk that contains no or very low levels of lactose and is therefore suitable for lactose-intolerant people.
  • Lactose-free milk includes lactose-free cow's milk, but plant-based drinks such as soy, cereal, nut and coconut milk are also lactose-free.
  • Lactose-free milk differs somewhat from normal milk in terms of taste and ingredients. Nevertheless, it can be used like normal milk.

The Best Lactose Free Milk: Our Choices

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying lactose-free milk

What is lactose-free milk?

Lactose-free milk is milk that contains no or very little lactose. This means that this milk can also be drunk by people who are lactose intolerant.

Plant-based milk is obtained from plant-based raw materials through special manufacturing processes. It contains no lactose from the start, is also vegan, often gluten-free and also contains no milk protein. (Source: pixabay.com)

This type of milk is, on the one hand, lactose-free cow's milk, to which the enzyme lactase is added to break down the lactose. On the other hand, plant-based milk alternatives such as soy, cereal, nut and coconut milk are also lactose-free. These are called drinks or milk substitutes.

The following video explains clearly what the different types of lactose-free milk are and what they are made of:

Lactose-free cow's milk is often not completely lactose-free. The lactose content is reduced to such an extent that normally no negative side effects are caused.

In Germany, milk that contains less than 0.1 grams of lactose per 100 grams of milk may be called lactose-free.

However, extremely sensitive people can still react to the lactose it contains. So they should be careful. Plant-based milk alternatives are completely lactose-free.

Did you know that some people are allergic to milk protein?

If you don't tolerate even lactose-free milk well, you could be suffering from a milk protein allergy. This is one of the most common food allergies, with about 1% of the population in Germany suffering from this allergy. Symptoms include tingling in the mouth, itching, swelling of the mucous membranes, skin eczema and indigestion.

Plant-based milk could be a solution for you. It does not contain lactose or milk proteins, which can cause intolerances. However, soy milk and some types of nut milks are not suitable for people with soy or nut allergies.

Who is lactose-free milk suitable for?

Lactose-free milk is suitable for people who cannot tolerate lactose, i.e. are lactose intolerant. Lactose intolerance can cause undesirable side effects such as digestive problems and general malaise.

For people who tolerate normal milk, lactose-free cow's milk products are not really useful.

Milk and dairy products are staple foods. Lactose-free dairy products allow people with lactose intolerance to still consume dairy products. A possible lactose intolerance should also be taken into account when choosing children's milk.

People without lactose intolerance can also drink lactose-free cow's milk. Since the milk does not differ much in content, apart from the split lactose, it will make no difference to such people. In addition, lactose-free milk and its products are often more expensive than normal milk and taste slightly sweeter.

How is lactose-free milk made?

The production of lactose-free milk varies greatly, depending on the type of milk. In the following section, we would like to explain the production of lactose-free cow's milk and plant-based milk. In the decision section, we will go into more detail about the types of milk and how they are produced.

How is lactose-free cow's milk produced?

Lactose-free cow's milk is produced in parallel with normal milk. Many dairy farms and milk brands have special lactose-free milk products in addition to the normal ones.

The production of lactose-free milk is relatively uncomplicated. The enzyme lactase is added to the milk, which splits the milk sugar lactose into glucose and galactose. After all, it is the lactose that causes discomfort in many people.

Glucose and galactose are sugars, so lactose-free milk tastes a little sweeter. As far as all other ingredients are concerned, there is no difference between normal and lactose-free milk.

There is lactose-free whole milk with 3.5% fat as well as reduced-fat lactose-free milk with 1.5% fat. One big difference in the production process is that practically all lactose-free milk is ultra-high-heated.

How are plant-based milk alternatives produced?

There are a few production methods when making plant-based milk. The raw material plays a fundamental role. All plant-based milk alternatives are water-based.

The raw materials are crushed, boiled, and finally filtered. The milk is then cooled and additives are added. The residual products, such as the pureed soybeans or the chopped nuts, can be further processed for animal feed.

Is lactose-free milk healthy?

Lactose-free milk is just as healthy as normal milk. Milk contains many valuable ingredients such as calcium, zinc, protein, fat, as well as a number of vitamins, and is therefore very nutritious.

Lactose-intolerant people benefit from lactose-free milk because they can take many of these beneficial nutrients from milk without suffering from the negative side effects of their intolerance. In addition, people with lactose intolerance can seriously harm their bodies if they take normal dairy products for a long time.

Milk has many valuable nutrients that are good for our health. Lactose-free milk makes it possible for people with lactose intolerance to take these nutrients. (Image source: pixabay.com / Couleur)

For people who can take regular milk, the lactose aspect makes no difference. However, plant-based milk substitutes have their own advantages and differ somewhat from cow's milk in terms of content.

Plant-based milks such as cereal, soy or nut milks have many nutrients that can have a positive effect on our health. These include proteins, unsaturated fatty acids, vitamins and minerals. These are also beneficial for people without lactose intolerance.

In addition, plant-based milk is often lower in fat and calories than regular whole milk. On the other hand, many artificial additives such as sweeteners and preservatives and colourings are added to these milk alternatives.

Lactose-free cow's milk is just as healthy as normal milk. Plant-based milk alternatives also contain many valuable nutrients that can have a positive effect on our health.

How many calories does lactose-free milk have?

The calorie content depends on a number of factors. The fat content, but also the raw material play the most important role. In the following table, we have shown typical calorie values for different lactose-free milks. For a better comparison, we have also listed normal cow's milk.

Milk energy content per 100 ml
Whole milk (3.5% fat) 67 kcal
Lactose-free milk (3.5% fat) 67 kcal
Milk (1.5% fat) 47 kcal
Lactose-free milk (1.5% fat) 47 kcal
Oat milk 42 kcal
Soy milk 52 kcal
Rice milk 47 kcal
Almond milk 13 kcal
Coconut milk 227 kcal

As you can see, lactose-free and normal cow's milk do not differ in their energy content. Oat, soy and rice milk are very close to low-fat cow's milk in terms of energy content. Almond milk, on the other hand, is particularly low in calories, while coconut milk is very high in calories.

What ingredients does lactose-free milk have?

Lactose-free cow's milk has the same ingredients as normal milk. The only difference is that the lactose has already been broken down into glucose and galactose. Lactose-free cow's milk contains water, protein, carbohydrates, fat, and a number of vitamins and minerals such as vitamins A, B, D, calcium, zinc and magnesium.

Lactose-free plant milk consists mainly of water. Depending on the type, the other ingredients vary. As a rule, however, plant milk also contains carbohydrates, proteins and fats.

Vegetable milk is characterised above all by the many vitamins and minerals that the milk takes in from the raw materials. However, they are sometimes added to the drink artificially. In addition, plant-based milk is often lower in fat and calories than whole milk.

Lactose-free milk has similar nutritional values to regular milk. It is rich in minerals and vitamins, some of which are supplemented during production.

How much does lactose-free milk cost?

Lactose-free cow's milk can already be purchased for a few euros in the supermarket. The price starts at about 1 euro per litre, but some products, such as organic products, are a little more expensive.

Plant-based milk usually costs a little more. The cheapest types of plant milk are soy, rice and oat milk, which are priced between 2 and 3 euros per litre.

Almond milk is more costly and starts at around €2.5 per litre. Coconut milk is the most expensive plant milk. The price for one litre starts at about 5 to 6 €.

Lactose-free milk is more expensive than normal milk. However, you can also find cheap lactose-free milk. Lactose-free cow's milk and soy, oat and rice milk are the cheapest types.

What are the alternatives to lactose-free milk?

There are hardly any alternatives to lactose-free cow's milk and plant milk. You can buy some products dairy-free or, if possible, avoid milk in the preparation. Many vegan dishes do not contain milk and can be an alternative.

The many varieties of plant-based milk are a possible alternative to cow's milk. In addition, you can decide to do without milk completely. (Image source: pixabay.com / Pezibear)

If you are lactose intolerant, you can take a lactase capsule. These medicines help your body to process lactose. So you can take dairy products without suffering from the symptoms of intolerance. These pills are available in pharmacies, but are a little more expensive.

Decision: What types of lactose-free milk are there and which one is right for you?

There are several types of lactose-free milk, in addition to which there are very countless varieties. We have identified the following basic types:

  • Lactose-free cow's milk
  • Cereal milk
  • Soy milk
  • Nut milk
  • Coconut milk

In the following section, we would like to introduce these in a little more detail, as well as discuss their individual advantages and disadvantages.

What is lactose-free cow's milk and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

Lactose-free cow's milk is cow's milk that is treated with the enzyme lactase, which breaks down the milk sugar lactose into glucose and galactase. Despite the name "lactose-free", this milk may contain a residual amount of lactose, but this is so small that no intolerance-related side effects occur.

Lactose-free cow's milk is offered by many milk manufacturers, and other lactose-free milk products such as cream, yoghurt or cheese are also made from it. Lactose-free cow's milk must be ultra-high-heated to deactivate the enzyme lactase.

Advantages
  • Easily available
  • Often produced alongside normal milk
  • Very close in taste to normal milk
  • Contains same nutrients as normal milk
Disadvantages
  • Not suitable for very sensitive people due to residual lactose
  • Tastes sweeter
  • Must be heated ultra-high (UHT milk)

What is soy milk and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

Soy milk is made from soybeans. To make it, the dried soybeans are soaked in water, boiled, and pureed. The puree is then filtered and cooled. Minerals, sweeteners and flavourings are often added to soy milk. Soy milk also often contains stabilisers and preservatives.

Soy milk is versatile and can also be fermented. For example, soy yoghurt, also called yofu, is produced. Many claim that soy milk is the most similar to real milk in taste.

Advantages
  • No gluten or milk protein
  • High in protein
  • Tastes comparable to real milk
Disadvantages
  • Flavour of soybeans
  • Many additives
  • Not suitable for soy allergy sufferers

What is cereal milk and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

Cereal milk is a milk substitute made from fermented grains such as oats, rice, rye, spelt, or einkorn. The grain is ground and boiled with water. Special enzymes break down the starch into sugar, which is why this milk can also taste somewhat sweet.

Cereal milk varies in its ingredients. The decisive factor is the cereal that was used. Cereal milk has similar vitamins and minerals as cow's milk, but is low in protein and calories. It contains no cholesterol, and rice milk is also gluten-free.

Advantages
  • Low calorie
  • Cholesterol free
  • Similar ingredients to regular milk
Disadvantages
  • Many additives
  • Tastes slightly sweet
  • Contains gluten

What is nut milk and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

Nut milks are made from different types of nuts, most commonly almonds, cashews, hazelnuts or walnuts. The nuts are chopped and soaked in water for a few hours. Then they are pureed with the water and finally filtered.

Nut milks often contain additives such as minerals, vitamins, but also sweeteners, flavours, stabilisers and preservatives. These are intended to improve the taste and shelf life. These nut drinks are often offered in different flavours such as chocolate, caramel or vanilla.

Advantages
  • Good taste
  • Nutritious
  • Versatile
  • Many flavours
Disadvantages
  • High in fat and calories
  • More expensive
  • Not suitable for nut allergy sufferers
  • Often contains additives

What is coconut milk and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

Coconut milk is obtained from the coconut. The flesh of the fruit is crushed and squeezed, which produces coconut milk. This milk is mild and creamy, has a pleasant taste and the typical coconut aroma, and is also versatile.

Coconut milk is very nutritious and versatile. But it also has the highest fat and calorie content of all the milks we present. Coconut milk is also the most expensive milk.

Advantages
  • Versatile
  • Good taste
  • Nutritious
Disadvantages
  • Expensive
  • High fat content
  • High calorie

Buying criteria: These are the factors you can use to compare and rate lactose-free milk

In the following we would like to show you which factors you can use to compare and evaluate lactose-free milk. This will make it easier for you to decide whether a certain milk is suitable for you or not.

In summary, these are:

  • Type and variety
  • Fat content
  • Production
  • Certificates
  • Packaging

Type and variety

The first decision you will make when buying is the type of milk. A basic distinction can be made between cow's milk and plant-based, i.e. vegan, milk.

Vegans and some vegetarians tend to use plant-based milk when they give up dairy products. People with milk protein allergies will also opt for this milk.

On the other hand, lactose-free cow's milk is most similar to normal milk. So if you want lactose-free milk to be as close as possible to normal milk in terms of taste and ingredients, you will choose lactose-free cow's milk.

Did you know that in Germany only certain drinks can be called milk?

Only drinks that are produced by milking can be called milk. This applies, for example, to cow's, sheep's or goat's milk.

"Milk" obtained from vegetable raw materials must be called something else in the trade. This is where names such as almond drink, milk substitute, milk alternative, etc. come from. In the vernacular, however, it is still often referred to as milk.

Fat content

The second point that plays an important role when choosing lactose-free milk is the fat content. This can vary greatly, and different varieties with different fat contents are often available.

In the following table we have given examples of the fat content of different types of milk:

Milk fat content
Lactose-free cow's milk 1.5 to 3.8 %
Oat milk 1.5 %
Soy milk 1.9 to 2.2 %
Rice milk 1 %
Almond milk 3.5 %
Coconut milk 24 to 80 %

As you can see, the types of milk do not differ much in their fat content. Only coconut milk stands out strongly.

Production and additives

Lactose-free milk goes through several steps in the production process. Additives are also often added to the milk, especially the plant-based milk alternatives.

Additives can improve the quality of the milk, but they can also make it worse. You should be aware of the ingredients before choosing a product.

Lactose-free cow's milk is often called UHT milk. This means that it has been heated to ultra-high temperatures during production. This process deactivates the enzyme lactase, which breaks down lactose. At the same time, the shelf life of the milk is improved. On the other hand, many valuable nutrients and minerals in the milk are lost through this process.

Plant-based milk alternatives are often provided with additives. These are supposed to improve the taste, enrich the drink with nutrients or improve the shelf life. It is not uncommon to find sugar, flavourings or preservatives in plant-based milk.

Certificates

Milk is processed in many ways before it reaches the market. In the case of cow's milk, the way the cows are kept and the feed they are given also play an important role.

Many factors also influence the quality of milk used in the production of raw materials for vegan milk alternatives. Not only does farming play an important role, but the processing and manufacturing methods are also crucial.

The husbandry, care and feed of dairy cows can influence the quality of the milk. (Image source: pixabay.com / The Digital Artist)

Many producers claim to use only the best ingredients in the production of their milk and to produce a high-quality product. In the end, however, only certificates such as the organic quality seal or the Fairtrade seal can really attest to this.

The organic quality label in particular plays an important role in milk production. Products bearing this seal are demonstrably from sustainable agriculture and do not use genetic engineering or chemical fertilisers and feed.

Packaging

Lactose-free milk often comes in a tetrapak, just like regular milk. Milk is also available in small drinking packages. Some producers also use glass bottles. Plastic bottles are rare.

Environmental protection plays an important role. More and more manufacturers are using recyclable and environmentally friendly materials for packaging. However, not all of them are on the same level. When making your choice, you should definitely consider how the packaging is made and what it is made of.

Facts worth knowing about lactose-free milk

Why are some people lactose intolerant?

As babies, all humans are able to process lactose. Otherwise, we would not be able to drink breast milk. This is because, like all mammalian milk, human breast milk contains lactose.

However, the majority of people lose the ability to process lactose with age. This has to do with the fact that the body cannot produce enough lactase to break down the lactose properly. Side effects such as indigestion, nausea, dizziness and malaise are the result.

Incidentally, the majority of people are lactose intolerant. In East Asia and Africa, 80 to 100 % of the adult population cannot tolerate lactose. In Europe and North America, only 15 % of people are lactose intolerant.

Lactose-free milk from goats, sheep and other mammals

The assumption that goat or sheep milk is suitable for lactose intolerant people is a myth. Milk from all mammals contains lactose. Thus, goat's or sheep's milk, insofar as it is untreated, also has lactose.

Rarely, however, these types of milk are also treated and converted into lactose-free products. Some products, such as cheese, are also naturally lactose-free, even if they are made from goat's or sheep's milk.

Where this misconception comes from is not entirely clear. It probably has to do with the fact that lactose and lactose intolerance are not understood in detail by many. In addition, sheep's and goat's milk are generally considered healthier than cow's milk. These types of milk differ in their ingredients and nutritional values, but hardly in their lactose content.

Image source: 123rf.com / goluboly

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