Sour Cream Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Sour cream

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Sour cream is a dairy product that is made by fermenting cream. Commercially produced regular sour cream is usually cultured, which means that it is soured and thickened by adding lactic acid bacteria to pasteurized cream with at least 18% milkfat.

Sour cream is healthy when eaten as part of a balanced diet. Sour cream can provide nutrients such as calcium and riboflavin, but you are not likely to consume enough of it to have a substantial impact. The flavor and texture of sour cream makes a tasty, cooling topping for Mexican cuisine, baked potatoes, soups, and more.

Sour Cream Nutrition Facts

The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for about two tablespoons (29g) of sour cream.

  • Calories: 57
  • Fat: 5.6g
  • Sodium: 9mg
  • Carbohydrates: 1.3g
  • Fiber: 0g
  • Sugars: 1g
  • Protein: 0.7g

Carbs

Sour cream is a high-calorie but low-carbohydrate food. There are 57 calories in a two-tablespoon serving, but just 1.3 grams of carbohydrate, all from naturally occurring sugar.

The glycemic index of sour cream is estimated to be about 56, making this a low to moderate glycemic food. But the serving size is small. The glycemic load of a 2-tablespoon serving is estimated to be between 0 and 1. Glycemic load takes portion size into account when predicting a food's impact on blood sugar.

Fats

There are 5.6 grams of fat in regular sour cream. Almost 3 grams is saturated fat. About 1.3 grams are monounsaturated fat, and 0.2 grams are polyunsaturated fat. Fat-free sour cream provides zero fat but has a higher carb count (5g). Light sour cream provides about 3.4g of fat.

Protein

A single serving of regular sour cream is not a significant source of protein, providing under one gram.

Vitamins and Minerals

A single serving of sour cream does not contribute any substantial vitamins or minerals.

Calories

Due to its fat content, sour cream is relatively high in calories. Regular sour cream has 57 calories per 2-tablespoon serving. For some of the sour cream flavor with fewer calories, fat-free and light versions are available. Fat-free sour cream has 23 calories per serving. Light sour cream has about 43 calories.

Health Benefits

Because a single serving of sour cream does not provide significant micronutrients and no significant macronutrients except for fat, it is not likely to provide substantial health benefits.

Foods made from milk with little to no calcium are not considered part of the dairy group, according to the USDA. The agency does not include these foods (such as cream, sour cream, and cream cheese) in their recommended guidelines.

Sour cream may play a minimal role in specific health outcomes. If you choose cultured sour cream, you can gain additional benefits.

Heart Health

The relationship between full-fat dairy and heart health has been hotly debated. While the USDA recommends fat-free or low-fat dairy to reduce intake of saturated fat, other experts suggest that this may not be the best strategy for reducing cardiometabolic disease risk.

Some studies have found an inverse association between fermented dairy intake (including sour milk products) and mortality or cardiovascular disease risk. However, sour cream is not fully fermented, so it is unclear if this benefit applies.

Weight Maintenance

In general, low-fat dairy products are considered a wise choice for people seeking to reach or maintain a healthy weight. Some studies have even found that increasing low-fat dairy foods to four or five servings per day may benefit weight loss or maintenance.

However, this recommendation is based on the fact that dairy products usually provide essential nutrients such as calcium and vitamin D. Sour cream, as it is typically consumed, is not a good source of either nutrient.

Gut Health

If you choose cultured sour cream products that contain live cultures, you may benefit from the probiotic content. Cultured sour cream contains several strains of beneficial bacteria.

Consuming foods with probiotics helps encourage a balanced gut microbiome, which has been shown to improve several areas of health, including the immune system.

Allergies

Those with milk or dairy allergy should not consume dairy products, including sour cream. Symptoms of a dairy allergy include rashes, hives, itching, and swelling, and may become more severe including trouble breathing, wheezing, or loss of consciousness.

Adverse Effects

Sour cream contains lactose, so if you have lactose intolerance, you may develop symptoms if you consume sour cream. Symptoms may include nausea, cramps, gas, bloating, and diarrhea.

Also, if you are on an antibiotic, check with your healthcare provider to see if it is safe to consume dairy products. Dairy may interact with certain antibiotic medications.

Full-fat versions of sour cream can be high in saturated fat. If you are concerned about the potential adverse health effects of saturated fats, speak to your healthcare provider. The science behind full-fat dairy's potential benefits and drawbacks is mixed.

Varieties

You'll find several choices in the sour cream section when you visit your local grocery store. Full-fat sour cream (18% milkfat), light sour cream (10.5% milkfat), or fat-free sour cream are all generally available. You might also find flavored sour creams with ingredients like chives or onion.

Creme fraiche is related to sour cream. It is thicker and used more often in recipes. Creme fraiche has a higher fat content and a lighter taste than sour cream.

Storage and Food Safety

Sour cream should be kept in the refrigerator. Packages will provide a sell-by date on the package, and you should consume the product within three weeks. You can freeze sour cream in its original container for up to six months.

How to Prepare

Sour cream makes a tasty topping for foods like baked potatoes, Mexican dishes, and other spicy foods. It also makes a perfect base for dips and sauces. While most people associate sour cream with savory foods, you can also use it to top sweet foods like crepes.

Cooking with sour cream can be tricky because it can curdle at high temperatures. If you add it to recipes, it is usually best to remove the food from heat before adding it.

10 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Malia Frey
 Malia Frey is a weight loss expert, certified health coach, weight management specialist, personal trainer​, and fitness nutrition specialist.