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Pasta and Lactose Intolerance

author image Diane Marks
Diane Marks started her writing career in 2010 and has been in health care administration for more than 30 years. She holds a registered nurse license from Citizens General Hospital School of Nursing, a Bachelor of Arts in health care education from California University of Pennsylvania and a Master of Science in health administration from the University of Pittsburgh.
Pasta and Lactose Intolerance
A plate of pasta with tomatoes and shaved parmesan cheese and to. Photo Credit: Derkien/iStock/Getty Images

If you are lactose intolerant, then pasta is a good food for a lactose-free diet. Pasta does not contain any lactose, because it is made from grains, water and salt. Some pasta dishes are served with cheese or a creamy sauce that contains milk. You should use caution before eating any pasta dishes that are served with milk ingredients. Some people can tolerate a small amount of lactose and may not develop symptoms after eating pasta with a creamy sauce.

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Lactose intolerance, or lactase deficiency, is the inability of the intestines to digest lactose, a sugar found in milk, properly. During digestion, the lining of your small intestines creates certain enzymes that help break down the sugars and proteins in foods. If your body doesn’t create enough lactase, the enzyme needed to digest lactose, the milk sugar will sit in the digestive tract until it is broken down by bacteria. This action causes common symptoms associated with lactose intolerance, such as bloating, gas and diarrhea.

Pasta Consideration

Some prepackaged pastas, such as macaroni and cheese, may contain milk by-products that contain lactose. Read the label on all pastas. If the packaged pasta product was made with milk, it is required by the FDA to disclose this common food allergen. You may not develop symptoms from eating pastas that contain some milk. It all depends on the severity of your intolerance as to the amount of milk-based sauces you can tolerate. Talk with your doctor if you have any concerns.

Other Lactose-Free Foods

Eating lactose-free foods is one of the best ways to prevent lactose intolerance symptoms. Pasta is one food that is lactose-free. Other foods that do not contain lactose include fruits and vegetables, graham crackers, rice, oats, cornmeal, dry cereals, soy, rice or coconut milk and lactose-free milk. Lactose-free milk is manufactured by adding lactase to the milk so that it is considered lactose-free. Most lactose-free milk is safe for people who have been diagnosed as lactose-intolerant.


If you want to eat a pasta dish that contains lactose, you can always take a lactase-enzyme supplement before eating the pasta. Lactase enzymes are sold in liquid or pill form and will prevent and reduce your symptoms of lactose intolerance. You can also purchase lactose-free cheeses for use in your pasta dishes.

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