“Do you sell lactose-free yogurt?”
It’s one of the more common questions I answer when I am back in the dairy department.
June is National Dairy Month, and the perfect time to discuss lactose intolerance.
An estimated 30 million to 50 million Americans suffer from lactose intolerance. Lactose is the name of the sugar found in milk and dairy products. In order to digest the lactose sugar, your body needs to make the lactase enzyme. Lactose intolerance occurs when the small intestine does not produce enough of that enzyme.
Lactose intolerance is rarely dangerous, but the symptoms — bloating, abdominal cramping, diarrhea, gas and nausea — can be very uncomfortable.
In my opinion, the biggest misconception has to do with treatment — you do not, in fact, need to avoid dairy if you suffer from lactose intolerance.
Instead, follow these tips from the Midwest Dairy Association for managing lactose intolerance:
Sip it. Start with a small amount of milk and slowly work your way up to an amount that doesn’t upset your stomach.
Try it. Look for dairy foods that say “lactose-free.” They are real dairy foods made from cow’s milk, just without the lactose.
Stir it. Try combining dairy foods with other solid foods or meals. Solid foods slow down digestion, which helps give your body more time to digest the lactose.
Slice it. Top sandwiches or crackers with natural cheeses such as Cheddar, Colby, Monterey Jack, mozzarella and Swiss. These cheeses are low in lactose.
Spoon it. Enjoy yogurt. The friendly bacteria help your body break down lactose. (But if you still feel symptoms, I can always walk you over to the lactose-free yogurt that I mentioned.)
It’s hard to see customers avoid the dairy department completely, for fear of symptoms. Those customers are missing out on the essential nutrients from dairy.
The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends three daily servings of dairy. The recommendation is based on the nutritional value of dairy — which includes protein, calcium, potassium, phosphorus and vitamins A and D.
If you’re interested in learning more about lactose intolerance, or sampling this chicken salad recipe, then stop by the 37th Street Hy-Vee between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. Thursday.
Mango-curry chicken salad
3/4 cup nonfat plain yogurt
1 teaspoon curry
2-1/2 cups (1/2-inch pieces) grilled skinless boneless chicken breasts
1/4 cup cubed mango
1 cup sweetened dried cranberries
1/4 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup cubed mozzarella
Lettuce leaves, for serving
In a medium bowl, blend yogurt and curry with a whisk. Stir in chicken, mango, cranberries, walnuts and mozzarella. Mix well. Divide into 4 servings and serve on lettuce leaves, if desired.
Nutrition Facts per serving: 350 calories, 10g fat, 3g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 80mg cholesterol, 160mg sodium, 32g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 34g protein.
Source: Midwest Dairy Association