When Dairy Is The Problem

A woman smiling as she holds a glass of milkAbout an hour after chowing down on pizza and ice cream, does your stomach suddenly start rumbling? Well, more than likely you’re lactose intolerant. But before you give up your favorite foods, here are some lactose-intolerance food ideas that you may not know about.

You may be surprised to find that lactose intolerance is fairly common. It seems to affect men and women equally, and some ethnic groups are more likely to be affected than others because their diets traditionally included fewer dairy products. Almost all Asians and Native Americans are lactose intolerant, and up to 80% of African Americans and Hispanic Americans also have symptoms of lactose intolerance.

So what do you do when dairy’s bringing you down? How do you get the calcium and vitamin D that your body requires? And what are more options besides the usual lactose-free milk and lactase supplements?

Read on to find out how you can live a more dairy-friendly life.

Breakfast Foods Offer Hidden Calcium

Eat a good breakfast, even without dairy, and you can still get calcium and vitamin D. Bread, juice, and cereal often have added calcium and vitamin D. Some fortified cereals can have more than 1,000mg of calcium in a 1-ounce serving. That’s nearly your entire daily requirement. Ask your doctor about your calcium needs.

Hard Cheeses Have Less Lactose

People with lactose intolerance don’t have to give up dairy. They can often eat calcium-rich hard cheeses without having any symptoms. Hard cheeses, such as Swiss or Parmesan, have less lactose than soft cheeses, like Brie. Cottage cheese is also a lower-lactose option that’s loaded with calcium.

Eat Your Greens to Get Calcium

Dark green veggies such as broccoli, kale, collard greens, and bok choy are excellent sources of calcium. A cup of cooked frozen collard greens has more than 350mg of calcium. Although spinach, beet greens, and rhubarb greens are full of calcium, they also contain substances called oxalates, which lower the calcium absorption of those foods. So these greens aren’t considered good sources of calcium.

Find Calcium in Nuts

A handful of almonds gives you a decent dose of calcium. One-fourth a cup of roasted almonds provides you about 100 mg of calcium. Peanuts and Brazil nuts can also boost calcium in your diet. A handful of Brazil nuts (about nine nuts) contains about 60 mg of calcium. A cup of peanuts provides about 88 mg.

Find Fish for Calcium and Vitamin D

Fish with soft bones, such as canned salmon and sardines, are good sources of calcium and vitamin D. Three ounces of sardines, for example, nets you 325mg of calcium and 200 IU of vitamin D. Cooked ocean Atlantic perch and rainbow trout are also calcium-rich. And tuna is also a great vitamin D choice. Adequate intake recommendations for vitamin D vary from 200-600 IU daily. Ask your doctor for recommendations.

Beans Are Good for Your Bones

Beans are nutritional powerhouses that boast calcium. A cup of canned white beans, for example, has about the same calcium as half a cup of milk. For dried beans, soak them in water for a few hours, toss the water, then cook the beans in fresh water. This reduces a substance in the beans called phytate, which reduces the calcium absorption of those foods.

Beware of Sneaky Sources of Lactose

Watch out for hidden lactose. Milk products are often added to processed foods. If any of the following words appear on the product label, it contains lactose:  Milk; lactose; whey; curds; milk by-products; dry milk solids; or non-fat dry milk powder.  Lactose may also be added to medications, including birth control pills and antacids.