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Lactase in raw milk

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created April 11, 2013 at 8:32 PM

I'm sure this has been asked before but I couldn't find the answer using the search.

If raw milk contains lactase and lactose, wouldn't the lactase just digest the lactose? Yet when I look at the nutrition label on raw milk, one cup has 12g of sugars, just like pasteurized milk. I'm guessing this is still lactose (since it's not sweetened).

Also, same question for kefir. A bottle of Lifeway kefir says "99% lactose-free" yet one cup still has 12g of sugars. What gives?

Fb67dc30cead043d1d13ea503a3044dc

(3280)

on April 12, 2013
at 06:56 AM

Axial and Greymouser are correct. The lactose (a sugar) is broken down by the bacteria into galactose and glucose (both sugars). The carbohydrate concentration of kefir is close to that of milk. If you're lactose intolerant fermentation improves digestibility. Also, galactose isn't very sweet, so that is part of why fermented milk tastes less sweet; the sourness comes from acidification.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on April 11, 2013
at 11:47 PM

Kefir shouldn't have (much) sugar left, as kefir grains consume it producing the sour flavor. If store-bought, it probably had sugar added after culturing.

72cf727474b8bf815fdc505e58cadfea

on April 11, 2013
at 11:44 PM

In case it wasn't clear, galactose and glucose are also sugars. In other words, lactase doesn't "digest" sugar in the way that bacterial cultures are purported to. It just changes it from one form of sugar to another.

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3 Answers

3
61844af1187e745e09bb394cbd28cf23

(11058)

on April 11, 2013
at 08:46 PM

Lactase is an enzyme in your gut, not in the milk.

1
9712e4ce885436e557751cfa6ffedd5a

(488)

on April 11, 2013
at 11:39 PM

Lactase just breaks the bond between the glucose and galactose molecules. It doesn't change the content of the sugar, just the makeup.

1
Ebb10603524dd22621c1155dd7ddf106

(19150)

on April 11, 2013
at 09:41 PM

Lactase is an enzyme, and all enzymes are proteins. I'm not sure if you meant that the lactase would be effecting the sugar content by its mass or not.

Some milk is thought to have some lactase. For example, I always thought goat's milk had some, while cow's milk had none. However, I am now unsure if this is a property of the milk itself (possible, but unlikely) or bacteria in the milk (more likely).

If your kefir says "99% lactose free" but still has sugar, all that means is that the lactose was broken down into it's constituent parts: galactose and glucose. (This is similar to sucrose being composed of fructose and glucose.)

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on April 11, 2013
at 11:47 PM

Kefir shouldn't have (much) sugar left, as kefir grains consume it producing the sour flavor. If store-bought, it probably had sugar added after culturing.

72cf727474b8bf815fdc505e58cadfea

on April 11, 2013
at 11:44 PM

In case it wasn't clear, galactose and glucose are also sugars. In other words, lactase doesn't "digest" sugar in the way that bacterial cultures are purported to. It just changes it from one form of sugar to another.

Fb67dc30cead043d1d13ea503a3044dc

(3280)

on April 12, 2013
at 06:56 AM

Axial and Greymouser are correct. The lactose (a sugar) is broken down by the bacteria into galactose and glucose (both sugars). The carbohydrate concentration of kefir is close to that of milk. If you're lactose intolerant fermentation improves digestibility. Also, galactose isn't very sweet, so that is part of why fermented milk tastes less sweet; the sourness comes from acidification.

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