Sour creme is a fermented dairy food that has a creamy texture and a unique, slightly tart taste.
Most sour cream is produced by the lactic acid fermentation of pasteurized cream that is approximately 18-20% fat (1).
This article examines the complete nutritional profile of sour cream and some of its benefits and downsides.
Table of contents
- What are the nutritional values of sour cream?
- Sour cream benefits
- Different types of sour cream
- How to use sour cream
- Is sour cream healthy?
What are the nutritional values of sour cream?
The following sections show the full nutritional values of sour cream according to USDA data (2).
Daily values (% DV) have been calculated using USDA data and the FDA’s published daily values (3).
These nutritional values are per two-tablespoon (30-gram) serving.
|Name||Amount||% Daily Value|
|Vitamin||Amount||% Daily Value|
|Vitamin A, RAE||37.2 mcg||4.1%|
|Vitamin B1 (thiamin)||0.01 mg||0.8%|
|Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)||0.05 mg||3.8%|
|Vitamin B3 (niacin)||0.03 mg||0.2%|
|Vitamin B6||0.01 mg||0.6%|
|Vitamin B12||0.06 mcg||2.5%|
|Vitamin C||0.27 mg||0.3%|
|Vitamin D||0 mcg||0%|
|Vitamin E||0 mg||0%|
|Vitamin K||0.5 mcg||0.4%|
|Mineral||Amount||% Daily Value|
Sour cream benefits
Here is a summary of sour cream’s potential benefits.
Sources of fermented dairy may have benefits
Unfortunately, there is very little research on sour cream in this area. However, as a lactic acid-fermented food, sour cream does contain these same live microorganisms (lactic acid bacteria) (7).
Various research suggests that fermented dairy benefits gastrointestinal health and may improve several health markers, like LDL cholesterol and blood pressure. These potential benefits may be due to the probiotic bacteria fermented dairy contains (8, 9).
However, as mentioned, there is no little specific research on sour cream, making it difficult to make any strong claims in this area.
That said, a randomized controlled trial published in 2020 found that fermented dairy products (cheese and sour cream) led to a less inflammatory response after a meal compared to non-fermented dairy products (10).
It is worth noting that eating anything will exert an inflammatory response, and this is part of normal metabolism. However, the different responses between fermented and non-fermented dairy are interesting and worthy of further study.
Compared to regular cream, the probiotic content of sour cream may offer benefits.
Provides several vitamins and minerals
The nutritional values section shows that sour cream contains a broad range of nutrients.
However, most of these nutrients are only present in small quantities.
Among the vitamins and minerals that sour cream provides, it has a moderate amount of vitamin A (4.1% DV), riboflavin (3.8% DV), and calcium (2.3% DV).
Use as a salad dressing may increase fat-soluble vitamin absorption
Leafy greens typically used in salads contain a significant amount of fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamins A, E, and K (11).
Since these vitamins are fat-soluble, eating them alongside some dietary fat can significantly improve their absorption.
On this note, people often use sour cream as a salad dressing. This makes the fat content relevant for increasing the bioavailability of fat-soluble vitamins in the salad.
However, it is worth noting that sour cream offers no unique benefits in this regard. Any source of fat, such as olive oil or hummus, will have the same effect.
For a quick and easy sour cream-based salad dressing, the following recipe works well (serves four people):
- 1 cup sour cream
- Squeezed juice from half a lemon
- 4 cloves of crushed garlic (or half a teaspoon of garlic powder)
- 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- Black pepper to taste
It makes a great dipping sauce
Sour cream can also provide an excellent base for a dipping sauce.
Making a sour cream dip is simple, and you only need a few additional ingredients for a great taste, such as garlic powder, salt, and chopped chives.
Add them (to taste) to the sour cream and mix well for a delicious and creamy dipping sauce.
For a healthier snack than foods like potato chips, here are some ideas of what to dip in the sour cream:
- Carrot sticks
- Celery sticks
- Cucumber sticks
- Rye crackers
- Sugar snap peas
Sour cream has some potential downsides, as summarized in the following sections.
High in saturated fat
Sour cream contains a high amount of saturated fat.
In larger quantities, sour cream has the following saturated fat content (2):
- 10.1 grams per 100 grams
- 24.2 grams per cup serving
Diets with high levels of saturated fat can increase LDL cholesterol. LDL-C is commonly called “bad cholesterol” because higher levels are strongly associated with increased cardiovascular risk (14, 15).
However, a typical two-tablespoon (30g) serving of sour cream has a relatively modest amount of saturated fat at 3.03 grams (2).
Sour cream can certainly fit into an overall healthy dietary pattern, but sticking to standard serving sizes is better.
Allergies and intolerance
A serving of sour cream contains only one gram of sugar. Thus, it has extremely low lactose content (2).
People with lactose intolerance can usually tolerate a small amount of lactose, so this, in most cases, should not be problematic (16).
However, anyone who experiences severe intolerance to lactose may wish to be cautious and discuss sour cream with their doctor.
As with all dairy products, sour cream is not suitable for people with cow’s milk allergy. This is because the smallest trace amounts of milk protein are enough to cause an allergic reaction (17, 18, 19).
Different types of sour cream
Lastly, it is worth noting that there are several different varieties of sour cream available.
The differences are similar to those between milk containing different fat percentages.
For instance, there are ‘light’ and ‘fat-free’ varieties of sour cream.
|Sour Cream Product||Regular||Light||Fat-free|
|Calories||59 kcal||41 kcal||22 kcal|
|Carbohydrates||1.39 g||2.13 g||4.68 g|
|Fiber||0 g||0 g||0 g|
|Sugar||1.02 g||0.07 g||0.12 g|
|Fat||5.82 g||3.18 g||0 g|
|Saturated||3.03 g||1.98 g||0 g|
|Monounsaturated||1.38 g||0.93 g||0 g|
|Polyunsaturated||0.24 g||0.12 g||0 g|
|Protein||0.73 g||1.05 g||0.93 g|
|Cholesterol||17.7 mg||10.5 mg||2.7 mg|
How to use sour cream
There are many different ways to use sour cream.
Here are some common ways to use it:
- As a base for a dip (add seasonings of choice).
- Use it on top of spicy foods like curries and spicy stews for a slight cooling effect.
- In wraps and sandwiches.
- Mix it with several seasonings and then use it as a salad dressing.
- Mixed into curries, soups, and stews.
- Use it instead of milk in sauce recipes for a creamier sauce.
Is sour cream healthy?
Sour cream is a delicious high-fat dairy food, makes a versatile ingredient, and has many uses. However, is it a healthy choice?
Nutritionally, sour cream contains a range of micronutrients but only provides them in small amounts. Therefore, it isn’t a food that offers significant nutritional benefits, and there is no real need to include it in the diet.
However, sour cream can fit into a healthy dietary pattern and probably works best when combined with other nutrient-rich foods.
For example, using it as a salad dressing may increase the bioavailability of fat-soluble vitamins in the salad while making the dish taste much better.
Lastly, sour cream is relatively high in fat and calories, so it is advisable to stick with the recommended serving size. A lower-fat variety of sour cream may be more suitable for anyone trying to limit their calorie or saturated fat intake.
For more on fermented dairy products, see this review of the benefits and drawbacks of kefir.