FODMAP Content of Milk & Milk Alternatives
Trying to choose from the vast array of milks and milk alternatives can be a bit daunting while figuring out the low FODMAP diet. This article will help you figure out what low FODMAP milk is right for you.
What Milks Are Low FODMAP?
Lactose free milk (Low FODMAP)
Lactose free milk is the best milk nutritionally while on the low FODMAP diet. This milk is cow’s milk that has had an enzyme called lactase added to it. The enzyme splits the lactose sugar into two parts, glucose and galactose, which our bodies can then easily digest without causing intestinal symptoms (6). Because lactose free milk does not contain lactose it is low FODMAP and safe to consume in large serving sizes of 250ml (or 1 cup) (4). If you have issues with lactose free milk then you might have an intolerance to dairy, and you need to talk to your dietitian.
Soy milk made from soy protein (Low FODMAP)
Soy milk made from soy bean protein is low FODMAP (4). In terms of nutrient content, soy milk made from soy protein has equivalent levels of protein and calcium when compared to lactose free cow’s milk. However, be aware that whole soybean milk is high FODMAP, so you will need to check the ingredients list to see if the milk is made from just soy protein. According to Monash University soy milk made from soy protein is safe to have in 250ml (or 1 cup) serves FODMAP (4). Soy milk made from soy protein is much easier to find in New Zealand and Australia.
Almond milk (Low FODMAP)
Almond milk is made by soaking, grinding and straining raw almonds (1). We know that almonds are high FODMAP in larger servings. So why is almond milk low FODMAP? The reason might be because almonds only make up 2% of the milk (2), which means the number of almonds in a glass of milk would be quite low. According to Monash University almond milk is low FODMAP and safe to have in up to 250ml (1 cup) serves (4).
Macadamia milk (Low FODMAP)
Macadamia nuts are low FODMAP and so is milk made from them. This milk is made in a similar way to almond milk where the nuts are soaked, ground and then strained to produce the milk. It has a slightly nutty smooth taste and the unsweetened versions can work well in curries. According to Monash University, macadamia milk is low FODMAP in 250ml (or 1 cup) serves.
Unsweetened Quinoa milk (Low FODMAP)
This earthy nutty flavoured milk is lovely in porridge and makes a great low FODMAP option. According to Monash University it is low FODMAP in 250ml or 1 cup serves.
Quinoa milk with Chia (Low FODMAP)
This milk can be slightly higher in protein and fibre than its plain counter part. According to FODMAP Friendly it is low FODMAP in 250ml or 1 cup serves.
Hemp milk (Low FODMAP)
Hemp milk is made from soaking and grinding hemp seed in water and is described as having a slightly nutty and creamy taste (3). Hemp milk is low FODMAP and safe to have in 250ml (or 1 cup) serves (4).
Rice milk (Low FODMAP)
Rice milk was previously believed to be high FODMAP when initially tested by Monash University in 2015. However, further research by both FODMAP Friendly and Monash University shows that rice milk is low FODMAP (5 7).
Wondering how that is possible? Well rice milk is made using enzymes, which break down the rice starch (5). Sometimes these enzymes fail to completely break down the starch and small oligosaccharides are left behind. Not all oligosaccharides are malabsorbed like fructans and GOS, in fact some types of starch-derived oligosaccharides are digestible (5). These digestible oligosaccharides were getting mixed in with the fructans and GOS during FODMAP testing, which resulted in a false high FODMAP reading (5). Monash University have developed a new testing procedure, which separates out the different types of oligosaccharides to provide more accurate results (5). If you decide to enjoy rice milk, then make sure you use the low FODMAP serving size of 200ml, as larger serves can contain higher levels of fructans (5).
Coconut milk (Limit During Phase One)
Different low FODMAP testing centres are finding different FODMAP levels in coconut milks, so it is a good idea to monitor symptoms if you decide to try it. According to FODMAP Friendly coconut milk is high FODMAP in 1/2 cup serves, however, Monash has published results that show it could be low FODMAP in certain serving sizes.
According to Monash UHT coconut milk is low FODMAP at 125ml (1/2 cup) serves (4). However, be aware that these UHT milks often contain moderate FODMAPs at 150ml, and are high FODMAP at 250ml (1 cup) serving sizes (4). Avoid any coconut milk that contains inulin.
Canned coconut milk that is used in cooking has recently been retested. Serving sizes have changed from 1/2 cup serve down to 1/3 cup to stay within low FODMAP thresholds (4). Larger serves (1/2 cup or more) contain high levels of sorbitol (4).
What Milks Are High FODMAP?
Goat milk (High FODMAP)
Goat milk contains high levels of lactose, even in small ½ a cup serves (4). This means it is not suitable for the low FODMAP diet.
Oat milk (FODMAP Content Dependent on Serve & Country)
The FODMAP content of oat milk appears to vary by country. In the UK, oat milk is low FODMAP in small 30ml (1/8 cup serves) and then become high FODMAP in 125ml (1/2 cup serves)(4). In Australia, oat milk is low FODMAP in 1/2 cup serves and then becomes high FODMAP in 1 cup serves (4).
If you are in the first phase of the low FODMAP diet you can enjoy the small serving sizes listed above and then look to reintroduce oat milk once you’ve tested your tolerance to GOS and fructans.
Soy milk made from whole soy beans (High FODMAP)
Soy milk made from whole soy beans is high FODMAP (4). This type of soy milk is common in the USA and UK. If the ingredient list states ‘whole soy beans’ then the milk will be high FODMAP.
Standard cow’s milk (High FODMAP)
Standard cow’s milk is high FODMAP, unless it is stated on the packaging that the milk it is lactose free (4). The fat content of cow’s milk has no impact on the lactose levels in the product. This means it does not matter if the milk is full cream, reduced fat, or skim milk it will still be high FODMAP even in small serves (4).
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Important Note On Choosing Milk
According to Australian based dietitian Joanna Baker (APD), “ideally while you are on the low FODMAP diet choose lactose free milk, however if you choose to replace cows milk with an alternative plant based milk, look for something that is nutritionally similar in terms of calcium and protein. Good nutritional benchmarks to look for are 120mg of calcium per 100ml serve, and 3g of protein per 100ml serve (you can find this info in the nutrition label). If you are concerned about lactose free milk and want to choose a dairy free alternative, then it’s best to discuss your calcium needs with your dietitian.”
Also keep in mind that children have specific needs for growth and development and milk is an important part of this. Please seek the professional advice of a dietitian before changing your child’s diet.
Watch Out For Added High FODMAP Ingredients
Many milk substitutes have added high FODMAP ingredients like inulin, agave syrup, high fructose corn syrup, molasses, or honey. This means it is important to check your milk substitute for additional high FODMAP ingredients.
Almond milk, lactose free milk, hemp milk, coconut milk, rice milk, and soy milk made from soy protein are all good low FODMAP milk options. However make sure you check the ingredients list for added high FODMAP ingredients.