Dairy: A Source of Slow Release Carbohydrate

Dairy food is associated with good health. In particular, consumption of dairy foods such as milk and yoghurt are associated with lower body weights. It is not fully understood why dairy foods may be so healthy, but one possibility is the fact that they allow the carbohydrate they contain to be released into the blood only slowly. The carbohydrate in dairy is present as the sugar lactose. Lactose is a disaccharide and is made up of one molecule of galactose joined to one molecule of glucose. this slows the absorption of the sugar as the bond holding the sugars together must be broken before absorption can occur. In addition, dairy foods tend to be held in the stomach during digestion, due to the presence of casein protein which can curdle and slow stomach emptying rates. This whole process slows the rate at which the lactose can get to the small intestine, it’s only location for absorption. Overall, the lactose from dairy is slowly absorbed and this may give dairy advantageous blood sugar stabilising effects.


As well as slowing the absorption of the lactose from within the dairy products, dairy can also slow the absorption of carbohydrate from within other foods eaten at the same time as the dairy. This may be a secondary benefit of dairy products in relation to blood sugar.

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About Robert Barrington

Robert Barrington is a writer, nutritionist, lecturer and philosopher.
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