Holistic Guidance on Low FODMAP Milks and Milk Alternatives

Low FODMAP Milks and Milk Alternatives: List & Comprehensive Guide

“Low FODMAP Milks and Milk Alternatives” was written by dietetic intern Lourdes Concepción, MS, and reviewed, edited and updated by Jenna Volpe, RDN, LD, CLT.

Wondering which milk is right for you on a low FODMAP diet for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO)?

We understand how difficult it can be to choose from the extensive selection in grocery stores and online.  Not to worry, you’ve come to the right place! 

Below is a holistic guide on important stuff to consider when looking for a low FODMAP milk or milk substitute. 

We’ll also uncover which hidden FODMAPs to watch out for, and other factors (aside from FODMAPs) to consider when it comes to low FODMAP milk/milk substitutes and IBS.

Read on to learn which store-bought & homemade options are our faves, and why.

Disclaimer: This article was written for educational purposes and is not intended for nutritional guidance or medical advice. For further guidance consult with a low FODMAP-trained registered dietitian. 

Affiliate disclosure: This article contains affiliate links*. Whole-istic Living may receive a commission on qualifying purchases at no additional cost to you. 

Which milks are low FODMAP?

Dairy milk can be low FODMAP when choosing any plain lactose free version. 

Low FODMAP dairy milks include the following types, according to the Monash University FODMAP App:

  • Lactose free A2 cow’s milk (whole, 2%, 1%, or fat free) – 1 cup
  • Lactose free cow’s milk (whole, 2%, 1%, or fat free) – 1 cup 

Note:  Be cautious of added sweeteners such as high fructose corn syrup or other types of syrup such as agave, molasses, barley malt, coconut, sorghum, apple, and golden syrup as they’re high in fructose and/or fructans (types of FODMAPs).

Which milk alternatives are low FODMAP?

Plant based milks can be high or  low FODMAP depending on the type, serving size, and certain added ingredients. 

Below are some general low FODMAP plant based milk alternatives (and their serving sizes), according to Monash University’s FODMAP App and guidelines.

  • Almond milk – 1 cup
  • Hemp milk – 1/2 cup 
  • Rice milk – 3/4 cup
  • Macadamia milk – 1 cup
  • Quinoa milk, unsweetened – 1 cup
  • Coconut, canned (light) – 1/4 cup
  • Oat milk – 6 tablespoons (1/4 + 1/8 cup)

Now, let’s dive deeper into more low FODMAP milk alternatives, their serving sizes, and other considerations.

Almond milk

One serving of 1 cup, or 8 ounces, of almond milk is low FODMAP. (1)

The following types of almond milk are low FODMAP based on Monash criteria of 0.85 ounces of almonds or less, per serving.

Best low FODMAP almond milks

The following variations of almond milk don’t contain added refined sugars or fillers, which have been shown to sometimes disrupt the gut microbiome on sub-clinical levels at a root-cause level, beyond symptom triggers.

Other low FODMAP almond milks

  • Blue Diamond’s Almond Breeze almond milks (all – 1 cup or 8 ounces)
  • Silk almond milks (all – 1 cup or 8 ounces)

Recommended reading:  Does Almond Milk Cause Constipation?

Coconut milk

Canned coconut milk can be low in sorbitol and other FODMAPs in a serving of  ¾ of a cup, or 6 ounces. (1)

Be aware of coconut milks that include inulin, which contains fructan, making it high FODMAP per 4 ounces or ½ of a cup. (1)

  • Nature’s Greatest Foods Pure Coconut Milk
  • Native Forest Organic Unsweetened Coconut Milk Simple
  • GOYA Coconut Milk
  • Thrive Market Organic Coconut Milk
  • Nutty Life Coconut Milk
  • Homemade Coconut Milk Recipe
    • Low FODMAP up to ⅓ cup serving 

Flax milk 

A serving size of 1 tablespoon of flaxseeds is considered low in galacto-oligosaccharides and other FODMAPs. (1)

  • Good Karma Unsweetened Flax Milk
  • Homemade Flaxseed Milk Recipe
    • For this homemade recipe below one serving of 8 ounces, or 1 cup, would contain half a tablespoon of flaxseeds making it a great option.

Hazelnut milk 

A serving of 15 grams of raw hazelnuts is considered low in galacto-oligosaccharides and other FODMAPs, so the following types of hazelnut milk will make the cut on a low FODMAP diet. (1)

Hemp milk

A serving of ½ cup, or 4 ounces, would be considered low in fructan and other FODMAPs. (1)

  • Nuthatch Fresh Plant-Based Milks – Hemp (option for add ons such as maple syrup and vanilla)
  • Homemade Hemp Milk Recipe
    • An 8 ounce serving contains 1 tablespoon of hemp. 

Macadamia milk (1 cup)

A serving of 1 cup, or 8 ounces, of macadamia milk is low in FODMAPs. (1)

Oat milk (1/4 cup or less)

One serving (1 cup or 8 ounces) of oat milk is high in galacto-oligosaccharides and fructan FODMAPs. (1)

According to Monash, a low FODMAP serving of oat milk is approximately ~1/4 cup or less. (1)

Check out our favorite types of oat milk below, which don’t contain added fillers or refined/artificial sweeteners.

  • Nuthatch Fresh Plant-Based Milks – Oat 
  • Nuthatch Fresh Plant-Based Milks – Chocolate Oat
  • Elmhurst Unsweetened Oat Milk
  • Rise Original Oat Milk
  • MALK Original Oat Milk
  • MALK Unsweetened Vanilla Oat Milk
  • MALK Chocolate Oat Milk
  • Nutty Life Oat Milk
  • Willa’s Unsweetened Oat Milk
  • Forager Project Unsweetened Oat Milk
  • Homemade Oat Milk Recipe

Pea milk

Sugar snap peas are considered high in fructose per 75 grams. Yellow split peas on the other hand, are considered low FODMAP when having a serving of ¼ of a cup (36 grams). (1)

  • Ripple Unsweetened Original Plant-Based Milk
  • Ripple Original Plant-Based Milk
  • Ripple Vanilla Plant-Based Milk
  • Ripple Unsweetened Vanilla Plant-Based Milk
  • Ripple Chocolate Plant-Based Milk
  • Folona Unsweetened Pea Milk Powder
    • Made with yellow peas 
    • 2 scoops (30 grams) makes 1 cup of pea milk
  • Homemade Pea Milk Recipe
    • An 8 ounce serving contains 30g of yellow split peas. 

Pecan milk

Up to 20 grams of raw pecans is considered low FODMAP. (1

The following types of pecan milk meet criteria for low FODMAP quantities of pecans, per 8 ounce (1 cup) serving.

Rice milk

Rice milk can be low FODMAP with a suggested serving size of ¾ of a cup, or 6 ounces. (1

The following would be allowed on a low FODMAP diet:

Walnut milk 

Walnuts are low FODMAP up to 30 grams. (1)  Based on our calculations, the following types of walnut milk are made with low FODMAP servings of 30 grams or less of walnuts per 8 ounces of walnut milk.

What makes a milk and milk alternative high or low FODMAP?

Lactose 

Lactose is a type of disaccharide (the “D” in FODMAP) which is naturally occurring in dairy milk.  (For example, just one 8-ounce glass of cow’s milk contains ~12 grams of lactose, which is pretty significant!)

Dairy milk can be low FODMAP when it’s a lactose free version and unsweetened, or flavored and sweetened exclusively with low FODMAP ingredients (such as in cases of lactose-free chocolate milk or strawberry milk).

What is lactose intolerance?

A lactose intolerance means your digestive system isn’t making/releasing enough lactase enzyme (which is supposed to digest lactose in your gut).

So when you drink milk and other dairy that contains lactose, the undigested lactose will pull lots of water into your colon, by osmosis – and/or ferment in your intestines, leading to an unwanted aftermath of – you guessed it – gas, bloating, abdominal cramping, and diarrhea.

Lactose intolerance is very common, not just among folks with IBS or SIBO, but also in many cases of sucrase-isomaltase deficiency.

That’s because lactase is a type of disaccharide enzyme, and this condition is rooted in a deficiency of enzymes that break down certain disaccharide molecules (like lactose).

Recommended reading: Lactose Intolerance vs Dairy Sensitivity – How to Tell Them Apart

Plant-based milks, on the other hand, are not so straightforward.  The FODMAPs found in each plant-based milk depends on the type of plant used and the serving size, as well as the types of added sugars/sweeteners and fillers (if any).

Galacto-oligosacchraides

Soy milk and oat milk are high in FODMAPs such as galacto-oligosaccharides per one cup serving.

Cashew-based milks are generally high in galacto-oligosaccharides and fructans in just one 30-gram serving size.

Fructans

One 8-ounce cup of oat milk also contains high amounts of fructans, according to the Monash FODMAP App.

Sugars and sweeteners

Keep in mind, some variations of inherently low FODMAP plant milks can still contain high FODMAP sweeteners like agave nectar, honey, dates, or high fructose corn syrup.

Recommended reading:  Gut Health Dietitian Advice About Low FODMAP Sweeteners

What about fillers?

You may also want to be wary of additives and fillers in plant-based milks such as inulin which is high FODMAP may potentially trigger IBS symptoms like gas, bloating, cramping, and/or diarrhea.

For example, while most fillers (like guar gum, gellan gum, and carrageenan) found in plant-based milk alternatives aren’t usually high FODMAP, they also aren’t necessarily healthy for our gut, according to some of the latest research. (2)

Milk and IBS – what else to consider

Portions

When choosing a plant-based milk it is very important to double check what portion size makes it low FODMAP. For instance, Monash University states that oat milk can be low FODMAP up to

6 tablespoons, but one cup is high in FODMAPs.

Therefore, portion size makes a difference in how much FODMAPs are present in each serving size.

Besides the FODMAPs in milks, protein and fat content can also play a role in intolerances to milk. 

Casein intolerance

Cow’s milk contains two main proteins, casein and whey. Casein makes up 80% of the protein in cow’s milk. (3

If you’re still experiencing an intolerance to low FODMAP (lactose free) cow’s milk, you may have a casein intolerance.  (This is something that often flies under the radar!)

How it works: 

Within the casein family, there are multiple varieties of casein including A1 and A2.  The difference between A1 and A2 is just one mutation.

  • As a result, A1 produces more of a wonky substance called “beta-casomorphin-7” after digestion.
    • This substance correlates with gut inflammation, negatively impact gut microbes, and subsequently increased incidences of diarrhea, according to a 2014 study published by the European journal of clinical nutrition and a 2021 human study by the Journal of nutrition. (3, 4

TLDR:  If you suspect you have a casein intolerance, it may be worth switching to goat or sheep’s milk which naturally contain more of the A2 variant. (5)

See if this makes a difference, but also keep in mind that goat milk and sheep’s milk still contain lactose, which would not make them a low FODMAP option. (1, 6

(Right now there unfortunately aren’t any low FODMAP lactose free goat milks or sheep milks on the market, but we’ll keep you posted if that changes!)

Fat intolerance

High fat milks/milk alternatives (even the low FODMAP kind) may still technically trigger IBS symptoms in some cases.

For instance, if you find that greasy foods tend to trigger your IBS symptoms, you’ll want to choose a milk or milk alternative that is low FODMAP and low in fat.

At the same time, a low fat diet isn’t sustainable – it’s important to know why your body isn’t properly digesting fats!

So, why would you have a fat intolerance? Let’s take a quick tangent to unpack this…

Gallbladder insufficiency

Your gallbladder is responsible for storing and releasing bile to breakdown fats in the small intestine after meals. (7)

Some diseases of the gallbladder can cause issues with digesting fats.

If you have a fat intolerance caused by underlying gallbladder issues, you may find yourself dealing with sharp pain after meals, bloating, improper digestion, nausea and/or even vomiting. (7, 8).

Bile acid diarrhea

Bile acid malabsorption is when the lower part of your intestine (aka the “ileum”) fails to absorb excess bile.

As a result, the excess bile will travel down into your large intestine, causing what we refer to in clinical and functional nutrition as “bile acid diarrhea.” (9

Bile acid malabsorption can be caused by overproduction of bile by the liver or damage to the small intestine. Symptoms may include watery diarrhea, frequent bowel movements, stomach cramps, bloating, fatty stools, and indigestion. (10

Pancreatic insufficiency

Other problems with fat digestion and absorption might be related to pancreatic insufficiency – aka not making/releasing enough digestive enzymes in your pancreas, the digestive organ which sits under your left rib.

When your pancreas isn’t making/delivering enough digestive enzymes (like lipase, which breaks down fat) to your small intestine), you’ll end up with light-colored, greasy, yucky-smelling, and/or floating stools – usually alongside abdominal pain and bloating when you consume high-fat foods (or in this case, beverages) without enzyme replacement therapy. (11)

Another telltale sign of this type of fat intolerance is deficiencies in fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. (11

Dairy allergy/sensitivity 

Previously we spoke about casein intolerance, which may trigger IBS symptoms for some people.

Others may have an allergy or sensitivity to dairy, which may look very similar to a casein intolerance in terms of symptoms – but the reactions involve your immune system. (12, 13

For example, cow’s milk contains 25 different proteins. Among those proteins, whey and casein have been found to cause allergic reactions. (12)

(You can read more about food allergy vs. intolerance vs. sensitivity here.)

Added sugars and sweeteners

When choosing an IBS-friendly low FODMAP milk, something else to consider is the possibility of intolerances to certain sugars such as fructose and/or sucrose. 

(Keep a lookout for these in flavored milks like chocolate milk and strawberry milk, even the lactose free kinds.)

Symptoms of fructose and/or sucrose intolerance are also similar to IBS symptoms, they include cramping after eating, bloating, gas, and diarrhea. Those with sucrose intolerance do not experience relief while on a low FODMAP diet, in fact, symptoms might worsen. (14, 15

Recommended reading:

Other foods you’re eating

We’ve gotten into a lot of detail about what type of milk and its components could possibly be causing your symptoms…

But let’s not overlook one obvious source of discomfort, the foods we typically pair with milk!

Foods like cereal, cookies, and baked goods often contain wheat flour which is high in FODMAPs. 

Not to mention, these foods themselves could also have natural or artificial sweeteners that can trigger IBS symptoms. 

If you’re unsure whether or not something in a low FODMAP milk/milk alternative is triggering IBS symptoms, consider keeping a detailed food-symptom journal (and consult an expert, as needed) so you can identify patterns.

What’s the best low FODMAP milk or milk alternative for IBS?

At the end of the day, the best milk for you depends on multiple factors that are entirely up to you. Some things to consider are: 

  • Tolerance history to cow’s milk
  • Allergies to cow’s milk or nut-based milk
  • Cost and availability 
  • Convenience (store bought vs. homemade) 
  • Personal preference (ex: vegan diet or flavor preference)

It is also important to keep in mind that the less gums, fillers, and added sugars less possibility of harming your gut lining and feeding the bad bacteria in the gut.

Bio-individuality plays a big role in choosing what is right for you. We are all unique from the way you look to the way our body functions on a daily basis. Always keep in mind, what worked for someone does not mean it’ll work the same for you. 

Frequently asked questions (FAQ’s)

Is lactose free milk low FODMAP?

Yes, lactose free milk does not contain any lactose making it low FODMAP.

Just make sure you’re going with a variation of lactose free milk that is plain and unsweetened, or sweetened exclusively with low FODMAP sweeteners like cane sugar or real maple syrup.

Is almond milk low FODMAP?

Almond milk is generally low FODMAP at 1 cup (8-ounces) or less per serving.  (1)

Is oat milk low FODMAP?

It depends on the serving size!  According to the Monash FODMAP App, oat milk can be low FODMAP if you’re limiting the serving size to 1/4 cup or less. (1)

This isn’t always practical to drink by the glass, but you can still enjoy a splash of oat milk in your coffee or low FODMAP tea of choice!

Is coconut milk low FODMAP?

Yes, coconut milk is generally low FODMAP up to ¼ of a cup, but double check to make sure there are no high FODMAP sweeteners or fillers like inulin.

Is cashew milk low FODMAP?

In most cases, no – but ultimately it depends on how many cashews are added to each serving, and what else you’re adding to the cashew milk.  

Is soy milk low FODMAP?

No – generally, in most cases, soy milk is considered high FODMAP if made with soybeans due to the GOS.  (1)

However, technically up to 1/4 cup of soy milk can be low FODMAP. (1)

(Much like oat milk, a splash of soy milk could be added to some coffee or low FODMAP tea, but not enjoyed by the glass!)

Is hemp milk low FODMAP?

It depends!  1/2 cup (4 ounces) of hemp milk is considered low FODMAP.

However, one full 8-ounce cup of hemp milk is moderate in fructans. (1)

Is goat milk low FODMAP?

No, ¾ cup of goat milk is high in lactose.

Is evaporated milk low FODMAP?

It depends on the serving size; up to 2 teaspoons of evaporated milk is considered low FODMAP. (1)

Is condensed milk low FODMAP?

No, ½ cup of condensed milk is high in lactose.

Is cream low FODMAP?

This depends on the type and amount of cream. 

For example, whipped cream is low FODMAP for ½ a cup serving. Sour cream is low FODMAP for up to 2 tablespoons. 

Related articles & recommended reading

Final thoughts

Choosing the best low FODMAP milk or milk substitute for your individual needs can be challenging, until you understand what works well for your body and learn how to navigate some label reading.

Use the above list and guide as a reference, and remember one size never fits all.

Keep in mind your bio-individuality, aka your food allergies/sensitivities, intolerances, gut microbiome, as well as cost, availability, convenience and personal preferences to choose the right milk for you. 

While on a low FODMAP diet, plain 100% lactose-free milk might be one of the most convenient and easiest options. 

If you’re dealing with an allergy or sensitivity to dairy, or perhaps an intolerance to casein and other constituents in milk, unsweetened or naturally sweetened plant-based milks can make great low FODMAP milk alternatives.  

Either way, make sure you’re sticking to the correct portion sizes. 

Lastly, considering your overall gut health it is important to look out for ingredients such as flavorings, sweeteners, gums and fillers that can be damaging to your gut lining and gut microbiome. 

Next steps

Thank you for taking the time to read what we’ve got to say! If you found this post helpful, please share it with a friend or family member navigating IBS.

If you’d like to gain more holistic insights and perspectives on IBS, download this free guide: 5 Common Diet Mistakes to AVOID When Healing Your Gut!

Free Download - 5 Diet Mistakes to Avoid When Healing Your Gut - by Jenna Volpe RDN LD CLT

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