Greek Yogurt for the Lactose and Gluten Intolerant

Author: Elizabeth Wallace | March 09, 2015


Greek Yogurt for the Lactose and Gluten Intolerant

Are you lactose or gluten intolerant and not sure what options there are for you in the Greek yogurt supermarket section? No worries! In this article I will explain everything you need to know. Step by step, we’ll dive into:

  • Lactose intolerance
  • Lactose in Greek yogurt
  • The positive effects of probiotics on lactose digestion and lactose intolerance
  • Popular lactose free Greek yogurt brands
  • Gluten intolerance
  • Brands using additives that contain gluten
  • Popular gluten free Greek yogurt brands
  • Bonus material: a complete comparison chart of popular Greek yogurt brands with their nutritional values for people with other allergies

Greek yogurt is one of the most popular dairy products at the moment, and just like all natural dairy products it contains lactose. But did you know that lactose intolerance doesn’t have to be a deal breaker when it comes to Greek yogurt? You can enjoy it just as much as someone who can handle lactose just fine.

If you’re highly intolerant, there are some great that brands out there that produce 100% lactose free Greek yogurt. If you’re just slightly intolerant to lactose, simple plain Greek yogurt might just do the trick for you. How come? During its production process much of the lactose is removed. Besides that the live active cultures, also called probiotics, inside Greek yogurt help digest lactose!

Are you okay with lactose but you just can’t seem to handle gluten? Rest assured! There are lots of options for people with gluten sensitivity who want to enjoy a nice cup of thick and creamy Greek yogurt!

Lactose intolerance

Lactose intolerance is the inability to digest lactose, which is a natural sugar in dairy products. People with lactose intolerance may experience abdominal pain, diarrhea, gas and stomach cramps when they ingest dairy. This can be the result of the person not having enough lactase to digest the lactose or not being able to absorb the lactose in the body. Contrary to some beliefs, lactose intolerance is not an allergy to lactose or dairy. It simply means that you are not able to break down or absorb lactose.

Lactose in Greek yogurt

During the production of Greek yogurt, regular yogurt is strained multiple times to remove the whey. This gives Greek yogurt it’s unique and creamy taste, plus it also removes much of the lactose. In comparison to a cup of milk which contains 12 grams of lactose, Greek yogurt only  contains 4 grams of lactose per 6-ounce container. This officially qualifies Greek yogurt as a lower lactose food.

Besides that, yogurt is a product of the acidic fermentation of milk. Its production begins with the breakdown of lactose into glucose and galactose. This is great if you’re lactose intolerant. It basically means that the process of breaking down lactose starts long before you even consume it!

The positive effects of probiotics on lactose digestion

When you’re slightly lactose intolerant, a great way to still enjoy dairy is to use Dairyspot’s own try it, sip it, stir it, slice it, shred it, spoon it system. It consists of some easy-to-remember strategies for incorporating low-fat and fat-free dairy foods into the diets of those who are lactose intolerant.

As mentioned at the ‘Spoon it’ step, the live active cultures (also called probiotics) found in Greek yogurt will help you to digest lactose more easily and can even help you build up a bigger tolerance to lactose. If you consume probiotics on a daily basis these helpful bacteria will be ever present in your intestine to aid the digestion process. Curious to find out how probiotics work? You can learn more about them here.

Lactose free Greek yogurt brands

Now if you’re highly intolerant and really can’t take any lactose but you’re still craving some creamy and thick Greek yogurt. Here are some Greek yogurt brands that are lactose free and delicious!

Gluten intolerance

Gluten sensitivity or intolerance is a condition that causes a person to react after ingesting gluten. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. Symptoms vary widely and can include gastrointestinal problems, joint pain, fatigue and depression.

Luckily, almost all natural dairy products are gluten free. That includes Greek yogurt in its purest form, also called plain greek yogurt. Though it is necessary to dig into this subject a little deeper. Firstly because some brands use additives, which results in their plain greek yogurt containing gluten. Secondly, there are a lot more variations of greek yogurt on the market today, such as full fat, low-fat greek yogurt and flavoured greek yogurt, which are all produced in a different way.

The top brands on the market today make their yogurt out of only two ingredients, milk and live active cultures. The live active cultures are added to the milk, which then creates yogurt. Consequently the yogurt is strained multiple times to remove the whey, which produces Greek yogurt. Because milk and live active cultures are the only ingredients used, plain Greek yogurt is gluten free most of the time. Though there is always a chance of cross-contamination with gluten from other products a manufacturer produces that possibly do include gluten-containing additives. Besides cross-contamination, some brands add thickeners. These brands are often called Greek-style yogurt. You should look out for the following ingredients: gelatin, pectin, corn starch, whey protein concentrate and milk protein concentrate. Lastly, if you’re into flavored Greek yogurt, look out for any added thickeners and ingredients such as nuts, artificial color, chocolate, modified food starch and candies. All the above can be sign of the brand not being gluten free.

Gluten free Greek yogurt brands

Some brands have also released official statements on their gluten content.

Bonus material: Greek yogurt comparison chart

Besides gluten and lactose intolerance, there are lots of other ingredients you can be intolerant to. Are you looking for a Greek yogurt brand that matches your special needs? Get a full overview of the ingredients used in popular brands in this Greek yogurt comparison chart and pick the one that’s right for you!


American Dairy Association North East is one of 16 state and regional promotion organizations working under the umbrella of the United Dairy Industry Association. It is the local affiliate of the National Dairy Council®, which has been conducting nutrition education and nutrition research programs since 1915. For more information, visit www.americandairy.com.