Carbohydrate Amounts in Dairy Products

Discover the Carb Counts for Different Types of Milk and Cheese

Close-up that pours milk into glass
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The carbohydrates in dairy products primarily come from lactose (milk sugar). If you are following a low-carb diet, your diet plan might suggest you eliminate dairy, but you may also be directed to choose low-fat or full-fat dairy options. Sweeteners or thickening agents in various types of dairy products add additional carbohydrates, making it important to check the label.

Sometimes the carb counts of dairy products surprise people. Cream often looks like it's lower in carbs due to the serving size listed on the container. A tablespoon of cream has a little less than half a gram of carbohydrate and is labeled as having zero carbs. However, there are 16 tablespoons in a cup, so the whole cup has about 6.5 grams of carbohydrate.

Average Carb Counts for Common Dairy Products

These are the carb counts of 1 cup (8 fluid ounces) of the following, according to the USDA database:

  • Whole milk: 11.4 grams of carbohydrate
  • 2 percent milk: 11.7 grams of carbohydrate
  • 1 percent milk: 11.6 grams of carbohydrate
  • Fat-free (skim) milk: 11.9 grams of carbohydrate
  • Buttermilk: 11.7 grams of carbohydrate
  • Goat's milk: 10.9 grams of carbohydrate
  • Half and half: 10.4 grams of carbohydrate
  • Light cream: 7.1 grams of carbohydrate
  • Heavy cream: 6.6 grams of carbohydrate
  • Evaporated milk (canned): 25.3 grams of carbohydrate
  • Nonfat evaporated: 29.0 grams of carbohydrate
  • Sweetened condensed milk: 166 grams of carbohydrate

It is important to note that these figures are not indicative of all dairy products. Some milk products are protein-fortified and sometimes powdered milk is added for more body, which will alter the carb count.

Always read your labels. Also, the number of carbohydrates in cream varies depending upon the amount of butterfat and lactose.

Carb Counts for Common Milk Substitutes

If you are following a diet like the Paleo diet or a vegan diet, you may eliminate milk and opt instead for almond milk (Paleo and vegan-friendly), soy milk (vegan-friendly), or coconut milk (Paleo and vegan-friendly).

  • Unsweetened soy milk: Between 2 and 5 grams of carbohydrate, depending on the brand. (Note: Most soy milk is sweetened.)
  • Unsweetened almond milk: 2 to 3 grams of carbohydrate depending upon brand. (Again, most almond milk is sweetened.) 
  • Canned Coconut milk: 6.3 grams of carbohydrate

There are a lot of milk substitutes on the market. Coconut milk in a carton is very different from the canned type. You can also buy hemp milk, rice milk, and oat milk. These all vary by brand, so consult the nutrition label on the package.

Carb Counts for Sour Cream and Yogurt

Plain yogurt starts out with the same carb count as the milk it's made from, but watch the label, as additives can change this number. Also, the bacteria in yogurt ferment the lactose, so depending upon how long it's fermented, the actual carb count can be up to 8 grams less per cup.

Sour cream, on average, has 9.8 grams of carbohydrate per cup.

Carb Counts for Cheese

Cheeses vary, but most are between 0.5 and 1 gram of carb per ounce, including cream cheese. Creamed cottage cheese has about 3 grams of carb per half-cup, but low-fat varieties can have more.

  • American cheese (1/2 ounce slice): 0.3 grams of carbohydrate
  • Cheddar cheese, shredded (2 tablespoons): 0.2 grams of carbohydrate
  • Cheddar cheese, slice (Kraft) cream cheese, regular (Philadephia; 2 tablespoons): 1 gram of carbohydrate
  • Cream cheese, reduced-fat (Philadelphia Light; 2 tablespoons): 2 grams of carbohydrate
  • Feta, crumbled (2 tablespoons): 0.8 grams of carbohydrate
  • Monterey Jack, shredded (2 tablespoons): 0.1 grams of carbohydrate
  • Mozzarella, shredded (2 tablespoons): 0.8 grams of carbohydrate
  • Parmesan, grated (1 tablespoon): 0 grams of carbohydrate
  • Parmesan, shredded (2 tablespoons): 0.3 grams of carbohydrate
  • Ricotta, whole milk (1/4 cup): 1.9 grams of carbohydrate
  • Swiss, slice (Kraft): 0 grams of carbohydrate
  • Swiss, shredded (2 tablespoons): 0.5 grams of carbohydrate

If you are concerned about the carbohydrate counts of your favorite foods, read your labels for more comprehensive information or work with a nutritionist to pick low-carb dairy options.

Source:

USDA Food Composition Database. United States Department of Agriculture.