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Lactose-free margarine is a butter-like spread that contains no lactose, a milk-based sugar. It is most commonly used as a butter substitute on everything from bread products to vegetables, and can often be used in baking, as well. Most margarine products are lactose-free almost automatically, as the majority contain no milk products whatsoever. Individuals who suffer from lactose intolerance often seek out specifically lactose-free margarine, but the product is popular amongst a wide range of consumers. Margarine generally contains fewer calories and has a lower fat content than does regular butter, which makes it popular among a range of health-conscious butter lovers.
Butter is a popular spread around the world, but as a dairy product, it contains lactose. Not all people are able to digest this sugar. Lactose-free margarine is one way that people with dairy-based diet restrictions can still enjoy the taste of butter.
Using these kinds of products is an easy way to impart a buttery taste to a variety of lactose-free meals. This is not to say that lactose-free margarine is only popular amongst people with dietary restrictions, however. Many cooks elect to use margarine in place of butter as a means of making meals healthier, particularly where fat content is concerned.
People who cannot digest lactose are referred to as lactose intolerant. There is no cure for this condition, but sufferers can avoid symptoms and discomfort simply by sticking to lactose-free foods. Most margarine products are lactose-free, but not all are.
There are many different kinds of margarine. All of it is designed to taste like butter, but there is often a wide disparity when it comes to how the products are made. Many are completely synthetic, but some contain basic milk enzymes. Others are made with soy or other dairy substitutes.
The easiest way to identify a lactose-free margarine is to look for products that are specifically labeled as dairy-free. Lactose does not exist outside of milk, which means that a milk-free product will not contain it. In Europe and North America, non-dairy margarine products are often marked “pareve,” which means that they are certified under Jewish Kosher laws as containing neither meat nor dairy. Not all margarines are prominently labeled when it comes to their dairy or non-dairy status, however, and it is possible to find margarine that is lactose-free without being strictly dairy-free.
Margarine producers often add whey or other milk enzymes to their spreads to improve consistency, add protein, or simply improve taste. Most of these additives do not contain lactose. They are undoubtedly dairy, however, which makes them unsuitable for people who are vegan or who adhere to religious laws restricting dairy products. These consumers, like consumers on a lactose-free diet, must usually learn how to scrutinize margarine ingredient lists to understand exactly what is included.