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As its name suggests, lactose-free ice cream is ice cream which does not contain lactose, a sugar which occurs naturally in milk and food items produced with milk. Generally, lactose-free ice cream is aimed at those with the common digestive condition known as lactose intolerance. This kind of ice cream may be produced using dairy milk treated with an enzyme that aids lactose tolerance or may be made from a non-dairy milk product. While a number of different lactose-free products can be purchased at supermarkets and specialty shops, many complain that the taste and texture of these products is quite different from that of traditional ice cream.
Lactose-free ice cream is predominantly aimed at those with lactose intolerance. This condition occurs when an individual’s body does not produce sufficient lactase, an enzyme responsible for processing lactose. When a lactose-intolerant person consumes a food that contains lactose, she may suffer from a range of digestive symptoms, such as gas, nausea, and abdominal discomfort. Research suggests that as much as 75 percent of the population may suffer from some degree of lactose sensitivity.
Since the late 20th century, when awareness of lactose intolerance began to increase, specialty dessert manufacturers and even some conventional ice cream companies have offered several different types of ice cream that is lactose-free. Some of these products are made from a base of dairy milk to which an enzyme that simulates the effects of lactase has been added. This type of ice cream has the advantage of offering the vitamins and nutrients normally found in milk without producing the unpleasant side effects experienced by those with lactose sensitivities. Other products are made from a non-dairy milk base, such as coconut milk, soy milk, or rice milk. These products may be a good choice for those with extreme lactose sensitivities who find that even treated dairy milk causes them to experience symptoms.
Supermarkets and specialty food stores in many countries offer lactose-free ice cream in a variety of flavors. Some individuals complain, however, that the texture and taste of these lactose-free products is quite different from traditional ice cream. Another potential disadvantage of lactose-free ice cream is that it tends to be more expensive than conventional ice cream products. Some lactose-intolerant individuals hold that dairy-free sorbet provides an alternative to conventional ice cream that is more enjoyable and often cheaper than those products intended to mimic “the real thing.”
I think this is the world's best invention since the word ice cream came to life.