We all enjoy the flavor and texture of a good ice cream for dessert. But what about the lactose that is in the milk products that go to make up the ice cream? If you are intolerant to lactose, or even worse, if you have an allergy that could mean that ice cream is off your diet.

It does not have to be that way however, because there are several producers that have lactose free in their product range. Surely, that will means that ice cream will still be OK.

Checking for lactose

Now we need to do that task that has to be done by all people who have to be careful which foods they eat. Read the labels. Check the ingredients and nutritional information. It may take a little searching but you should be able to check if there is lactose present in what is marketed as lactose free.

For example in one list of ingredients that belongs to a product labelled as lactose free with a chocolate flavor are the following:

Ingredients: milk, cream, sugar, corn syrup, cocoa (processed with alkali) guar gum, locust bean gum, carrageenan, lactase enzyme*.

*Ingredient not in regular ice cream. Contains: milk

Note that this product is made from milk and cream. The added lactase enzyme helps with the digestion of lactose in the milk, but there is still some lactose present. This may not be a problem for some who are lactose intolerant, but others may still be affected by the small amount of lactose that may not have been broken down by the lactase enzyme.

That’s when it may be necessary to investigate if there are any that are made to contain zero levels of lactose.

Zero lactose

These may be from a variety of plant based milks, and depending on the type of milk substitute used, the consistency, flavor and color variations will mean that the eating experience is different from that of regular ice cream.

Rice, soy and coconut are among the options for basis of a lactose free dessert. To produce a creamy consistency and to provide sweetness in the flavor, additives and large amounts of sugar may be used. Flavors such as chocolate can also be added to enhance the taste and make these alternatives more palatable.

If you can tolerate small amounts of lactose then those that have lactase added may be your preferred option. Those with a more serious intolerance or allergy may need to steer clear of these and go for the ice creams made from milk substitutes.

Neville Dinning is a researcher and educator with an interest lactose free foods. For more information on , visit NoniHerbal.com