is butter lactose-free -

Is butter low FODMAP?

I often get confused reactions about using butter in my low FODMAP recipes. People ask me: “Isn’t butter high in FODMAPs?”

Often, people think that butter contains a lot of lactose, which is one of the FODMAP groups. But this is not the case.

Butter hardly contains any lactose because of the production process. Therefore, butter is low FODMAP.

Is butter lactose-free?

To understand why you can usually use butter without problems in a low-lactose diet, we first have to understand how butter is made.

In the process of making butter from whole milk, the cream is separated from the milk. Then, the cream is churned until it thickens into butter.

Excess liquid is removed and what remains is largely fat. Butter consists of about 80% fat, and the other 20% is mainly water.

Butter hardly contains any carbs or proteins (Source: Friesland Campina Institute).

Below you can see the nutrition label of a package of unsalted butter, from Land O Lakes.

Image source: Land O’Lakes – Walmart website.

As you might know, FODMAPs are carbohydrates. And lactose is a sugar (milk sugar) and would be categorized under the carbohydrates on a nutrition label.

As you can see in the image above, a serving of butter contains 11 grams of fat and 0 grams of carbs and proteins. The carbohydrates are zero, so this serving doesn’t contain any lactose.

If you look at a nutrition label that shows the macronutrients for 100 grams of butter, it will usually show you that 100 grams of butter contains up to 1 gram of carbohydrates and sugars. As you can see below.

This screenshot was taken from the Tesco website for their unsalted butter. And here you can see that 100 grams of butter contains 0.6 gram of carbs and sugars.

Source image: Tesco

So even in larger servings, butter hardly contains any lactose.

Usually, the amount of butter that you eat in a meal will be not much more than a teaspoon or maybe a tablespoon.

If you use butter in a baking recipe, the recipe is often for 10 or 12 servings and also then your serving of butter will at maximum be around a tablespoon.

This means your serving will contain at most a very small amount of lactose.

Monash University states in the FODMAP app that a serving of 1 tablespoon of butter is considered low FODMAP. No maximum is given for this food.

It does mention that butter is high in fat and that fat can affect gut motility. And that this can be a symptom trigger when consumed in excess.

Too much high-fat food is never good of course.

So to answer the question above: “Is butter lactose-free?”

No, butter is not 100% lactose-free. But in a normal serving, it contains only traces of lactose.

For most people with a lactose intolerance, such a serving should not cause any problems. And this is also why Monash University says that a serving of 1 tablespoon of butter is low FODMAP.

is butter lactose-free -

Your personal tolerance levels

As I say often, on the FODMAP diet, it always remains important to look at your tolerance levels and to test for this.

That is also what you do in the reintroduction phase of the FODMAP diet.

The amount of lactose that a person with lactose intolerance can tolerate differs per person. The guidelines given above might work for most people, but not for everyone.

Maybe you react to a very small amount of lactose and butter does give you symptoms. That is a possibility.

Or maybe you tolerate lactose relatively well and can eat larger servings without getting issues. Just test for yourself what your tolerance levels are.

When you are still in the elimination phase of the FODMAP diet, I would advise you to stick to the safe serving of butter given by Monash University in their app.

After you have tested lactose and you know what your tolerance levels are, you can adapt your serving size based on your test results.

If you have a cow milk allergy, it is a different story. In that case, everything that contains cow milk should be avoided, so butter as well.

I hope this makes it a bit clearer why butter can be used on the low FODMAP diet!

Other blogs about the FODMAPs in foods

Would you like to read more about whether certain foods are low FODMAP and in what quantities? Check out the articles below:

Fruits and vegetables

Dairy and grains

Other foods and drinks

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