Is Sour Cream Good for You?

Potato Pancakes with Sour Cream
Potato pancakes with sour cream. (Image: cheche22/iStock/Getty Images)

Thick, rich sour cream, commonly used for baked potatoes, Mexican foods, sour cream cakes, casseroles and dips is a high-calorie, high-fat food. Although sour cream has some calcium, there are nutritional considerations for you to take into account before including sour cream in your diet regularly.

Process and Identification

Regular sour cream begins its life as cream. The cream goes through a fermentation process when the manufacturer combines the cream with specialized bacteria. The lactic acid bacteria give the sour cream its distinctive flavor and the thickness of cream aids in the thickness of the product. Full-fat sour cream must have at least 18 percent fat, while reduced-fat sour cream must have 25 percent less fat than full-fat sour cream and fat-free sour cream must contain less than 0.5 g of fat for each 50 g of weight, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Calories and Fat

Regular, full-fat sour cream contains 23 calories in 1 tbsp. The fat calories in sour cream make up 93 percent of its calories, with the other amounts from small amounts of carbohydrates and protein. Saturated fat, which the American Heart Association indicates increases your risk for heart disease by increasing the amount of cholesterol in your blood, comprises 60 percent of the fat calories in sour cream. The other fats in the sour cream are monounsaturated and polyunsaturated, both of which are healthier fats. Reduced-fat sour cream, made with reduced-fat milk has 20 calories per 1 tbsp. and 81 percent of its calories from fat. Like full-fat sour cream, the fat in reduced-fat sour cream is about 60 percent saturated fat.

Nutritional Information

Sour cream has only 0.35 g of carbohydrates in 1 tbsp., making it a relatively low-carbohydrate food. Other ingredients in 1 tbsp. of the sour cream include 0.42 g of sugar and 0.25 g of protein. A tablespoon of sour cream provides you with 13 mg of calcium, a small percentage of your 1,000 mg daily requirement. Sour cream has a trace of iron, only 10 mg of sodium, 17 mg of potassium and a trace of the B vitamins thiamin, riboflavin and niacin in 1 tbsp.


Use regular sour cream sparingly because of its saturated fat and high calories. When you use full-fat sour cream, measure your serving with a measuring spoon to avoid adding more calories to your food than you intend. Reduced-fat sour cream has fewer calories and less fat, while fat-free sour cream has the fewest calories, at 11 calories per 1 tbsp. and no fat. Use fat-free sour cream in dishes, or substitute healthier, high-protein Greek yogurt for sour cream with baked potatoes, in baked casseroles and as Mexican dish topping.

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