Dairy alternatives (beverage and yoghurt) - low FODMAP options

PBM intro banner

Jimmy Lee - Research Dietitian, 20 February 2024

The dairy alternative market has been growing over the past years with no signs of slowing down any time soon. With more options available than ever, have you ever stopped by the dairy alternatives aisle at your local supermarket and thought to yourself: ‘Which ones of these are low FODMAP?’

Before going into plant based milk… do I need to avoid dairy milk completely?

Whether as a side for your low FODMAP breakfast or a glass on its own for your afternoon tea, plant based milk can be a great alternative to dairy milk. Many plant based milk also have extra nutrients fortified (added) and can be part of a nutritious FODMAP diet, especially for vegetarians and vegans. The Nutrition Information Panel and ingredients list will indicate the types and amounts of vitamins and minerals in the product.

However, if you are intolerant to lactose but would like to continue consuming dairy, consider lactose free milk (and yoghurt).

In these dairy products, the enzyme that breaks down the milk sugar, lactose, is added to the product before it hits the shelves, saving your gut from having to do all the breakdown work. Lactose free milk is slightly sweeter than normal milk as lactose is broken down.

How is plant based milk made?

Although potentially slightly different between manufacturers, plant based milk is mainly made by soaking the bean/nut/seed/legume in water (for hours), before blending the soaked ingredient with water. The mixture is then filtered to isolate the liquid (‘milk’) from the puree. Some companies may add other minerals, vitamins, flavouring, sugars or other additives to prolong shelf life or increase its nutritional value.

So which plant based milks are low FODMAP?

The Monash FODMAP team has tested multiple variants of plant based milk, and many of them were able to take the low FODMAP crown in 1 or ¾ cup.

Hemp milk (1)

Although the primary ingredient of some products, such as almond milk (almond), are high in FODMAPs, the milk product can still be low FODMAP, which may be attributed to the proportion of liquid and water presented.

Wait… so is soy protein milk the same as soy milk?

Soy beans are high in GOS, a type of water-soluble FODMAP. In soy milk made from whole soy beans, GOS leaches into the milk, resulting in a high FODMAP product. In contrast, soy protein milk is made by first extracting protein from soy beans, leaving all the GOS behind, resulting in a low FODMAP product. Don’t worry, the ingredients list should tell you whether the product was made from whole soy beans or soy protein.

What about plant based yoghurt?

We tested coconut yoghurt and soy yoghurt and found that a standard serve of each are low and high FODMAP, respectively.

What else should I look for at the shops?

  • Look for calcium-fortified (extra calcium added) options by checking the nutrition information panel on the food label - ensure you choose a product with 120mg (or more) calcium per 100ml
  • If you are following a vegan, low FODMAP diet, we recommend looking for vitamin B12 fortified (added) products, as vegans are often at risk of being deficient in this vitamin
  • Some fibre-added products may have inulin (a type of fructan), chicory root fibre or GOS added as a prebiotic fibre, which may not be tolerated depending on your individual tolerance to oligosaccharides

Be sure to check the low FODMAP serving size in the Monash FODMAP app. For example, unsweetened UHT coconut milk has a low FODMAP rating in a serving size of ¾ cup, but it becomes moderate FODMAP at a larger serving size of 1 cup (250ml). On the other hand, oat milk is high FODMAP at 250ml but is low FODMAP up to 104ml.

Useful links:

Back to all articles
Back to all articles