Sour Cream Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Sour cream

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Sour cream is a dairy product that is made by fermenting cream. Most consumers buy sour cream at their local market, but this popular topping can also be made at home. Commercially produced regular sour cream is usually cultured, which means that it is soured and thickened by adding lactic acid bacteria to pasteurized cream that has at least 18% milkfat.

Regular sour cream is relatively high in fat. It can provide nutrients such as calcium and riboflavin, but you are not likely to consume enough of it to have a substantial impact. Sour cream can be part of a healthy diet as long as it is consumed in moderation

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 you are not likely to consume a lot of it. The glycemic load of a single 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 grams of fat but has a higher carb count (5g) and just 23 calories. Light sour cream provides about 3.4g of fat and has about 43 calories.

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. However a cup of the cream would be rich in calcium, phosphorus, riboflavin, and vitamin A. However, because this food is high in fat (particularly saturated fat) consuming a whole cup would not be advisable.

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. In fact, the USDA states that foods made from milk that have little to no calcium are not considered part of the Dairy Group and the organization does not include those foods (such as cream or cream cheese) in their recommended guidelines.

There are different ways that sour cream may play a very small role in certain health outcomes.

Bone Health

Adding dairy to your diet has been linked to better bone health, but experts advise consuming up to three servings of dairy per day to gain this benefit. A serving of soft or liquid dairy products is considered to be one cup.

While sour cream can be part of your total dairy consumption, it would not be advisable to meet this dairy recommendation from sour cream alone.

Heart Health

The relationship between full-fat dairy and heart health has been hotly debated. While experts at the USDA recommend that we consume fat-free or low-fat dairy to reduce our intake of saturated fat other experts have provided research supporting the fact that this recommendation may not be the optimal strategy for reducing cardiometabolic disease risk.

In fact, some studies have even 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 is applicable.

Weight Maintenance

In general, low-fat dairy products are considered a smart choice when trying to reach or maintain a healthy weight. In fact, some studies have even found that increasing low-fat dairy foods to 4–5 servings per day may be beneficial for weight loss or maintenance. But this recommendation is made based on the fact that dairy products usually provide important nutrients such as calcium and vitamin D. Sour cream, as it is typically consumed, is not a good source of either nutrients.

Allergies

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

Adverse Effects

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. Dairy can interact with some antibiotic medications.

Varieties

When you visit your local grocery store, you'll find several choices in the sour cream section. 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 that include 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.

When It’s Best

Sour cream is available all year long in supermarkets.

Storage and Food Safety

Sour cream should be kept in the refrigerator. Packages will provide a sell-by date on the package and the product should be consumed within three weeks of that date.

Sour cream can be frozen 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, it can also make a nice topping for 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.

Recipes

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Article Sources
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