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What Are the Different Types of Lactose-Free Sweets?

Many people are allergic or sensitive to the lactose found in dairy products.
Carob is often used as a lactose-free alternative to chocolate in baked goods.
Many types of chewing gum are lactose free.
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  • Written By: M.C. Huguelet
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 16 September 2014
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Lactose-free sweets are candies that do not contain lactose, a sugar normally found in dairy products that causes digestive problems in some individuals. While there are many different types of lactose-free sweets, each type generally falls into one of two categories. The first category includes sweets such as chocolates and caramels that are specifically formulated to be lactose-free. Another category of lactose-free sweets includes candy which is intended for general consumption but happens to lack lactose, like jelly beans and some hard candies.

When certain individuals consume foods that contain lactose, they experience a range of uncomfortable digestive symptoms. Such symptoms occur because these individuals do not produce a sufficient amount of lactase, an enzyme normally manufactured by the body to help it process lactose. Many traditional candies are made from dairy products and therefore contain lactose. Luckily for lactose-sensitive individuals, however, there is also a large array of lactose-free sweets that can be enjoyed without side effects.

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Some lactose-free sweets are specifically manufactured for consumers who wish to avoid lactose. Often, this category of lactose-free sweets includes candies that traditionally contain dairy products and thus are normally off-limits to those with lactose sensitivities. For instance, it is possible to buy lactose-free chocolate bars, caramels, butterscotch discs, and truffles. In many cases, manufacturers of these sweets use a non-dairy “milk” product, such as coconut milk, to mimic the creaminess and richness of traditional dairy ingredients. While these sweets may be easy on the lactose-sensitive individual’s stomach, however, some consumers feel that they lack the smooth texture and depth of flavor of the candies from which they have been adapted.

A second category of lactose-free sweets includes candies which are not specially manufactured to suit any particular dietary restriction, yet happen to be produced without lactose. Many different sweets fall within this category, including jelly beans, a number of chewing gums, as well as “gummies,” such as bears and worms. The majority of licorice is also lactose-free, as are many types of fruit-flavored hard candies, especially those that are transparent or semi-transparent in appearance. In order to avoid the symptoms of unintentional lactose consumption, however, lactose-sensitive individuals should not assume that a product is lactose-free based on its appearance, taste, or smell. The only reliable way to find out whether a product contains lactose is to carefully read its ingredient list, and if in doubt, to contact its manufacturer.

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