10/16/2014 02:42 EDT | Updated 10/17/2014 01:59 EDT

Lactose Free Milk: 7 Dairy-Free Milk Alternatives

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For anyone who is lactose intolerant, this four-letter word may make shudder. But luckily for you (and the vegans in the house), there are several dairy-free milk alternatives that won't make your stomach hurt.

"Lactose intolerance doesn't mean the person needs to avoid milk products altogether," says registered dietitian Kathleen McClinton, who is based in Winnipeg. "Some products like hard cheeses contain less lactose than milk, and yogurts with 'live' or 'active' bacteria may also be better tolerated by those with lactose intolerance."

Lactose is a natural sugar found in milk and other dairy products, McClinton adds, and if you're lactose intolerant, the consumption of it can lead to diarrhea, abdominal pain and flatulence.

However, McClinton says by the age of 30, more than two-thirds of Canadians do not get their daily consumption of dairy/milk products in a day. Health Canada's food guide points out milk is an essential source of calcium, vitamins A and D, potassium and riboflavin.

She also says going dairy-free can make it difficult to meet your daily requirements of calcium. The calcium found in one cup of milk, for example, is equivalent to four cups of broccoli or 12 slices of whole wheat bread.

"Because of this, a fortified beverage like soy milk can be helpful for supplementing the diet. This may be especially important for vitamin B12, which is generally only found in animal products," she says.

And nutrition-wise, McClinton says dairy-free products may not always be healthier — especially when you look at added sugars. "People who follow a dairy-free lifestyle need to read labels to compare products."

To lay out your options of dairy-free milk, McClinton has come up with seven healthy alternatives. Have a go-to brand? Let us know in the comments below for an upcoming story.


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