Sour cream goes great with a lot of foods, but is it healthy?

Sour cream goes great with a lot of foods, but is it healthy?

Mashed potatoes. Burritos. Chili. Baked potatoes. Nachos. Tacos. Quesadillas. Chips and dip. Stews and soups. What do all of these crave-able foods have in common? They are often served with sour cream.

These foods are rarely considered “health foods” (with the exception of stews and soups, depending on how they are prepared.) But what about this creamy companion? Is sour cream healthy? Like many foods, it depends on how it’s prepared, along with the individual factors and goals of the person consuming it – however, broadly speaking – it’s OK to consume in moderation. We go over everything you need to know about sour cream.

Is sour cream healthy?

Sour cream is essentially what it sounds like – “sour” and “cream.” It is made of lactic acid-containing bacteria and dairy cream, making it a fermented dairy product. Fermented foods are a source of probiotics, which are vital for many bodily functions. Stephanie Schiff, RDN, CDN, CDCES a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist with Huntington Hospital in New York says probiotics can:

  • Aid the digestive system. “They protect the inside of your gut and they help regulate bowel movements,” she says.

  • Probiotics make short-chain fatty acids. These short-chain fatty acids have some anti-inflammatory and other protective properties.

  • They produce neurotransmitters. “A lot of people don’t know that serotonin and dopamine are produced in the gut,” she explains. Schiff further explains that eating prebiotics and probiotics may improve symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Dairy products are also a good source of vitamin D, calcium and protein.

Sour cream is slightly high in fat, however. In small portions, it’s not likely to have a large impact on calorie consumption. One serving of sour cream (one tablespoon) has 24 calories.

There’s one important caveat – the healthiness level of sour cream will not make a chimichanga a healthy food. Sour cream is rarely consumed on its own, and the healthiness of the dish is going to be more dependent on what it’s served with.

Is sour cream bad for high blood pressure?

The first step in nutritional changes for high blood pressure is to limit sodium intake. Sour cream is not a significant source of sodium (about 4 mg per serving, which is less than 1% of the recommended daily intake.) However, it is also recommended to eat foods low in fat as well. Sour cream does contain a few grams of fat – some of it the harmful saturated kind. The good news is that there are low-fat forms of sour cream that you can use as an alternative.

Is sour cream healthier than yogurt?

It depends.

Yogurt is usually lower in fat and probiotics than sour cream. However, flavored yogurt may contain much more sugar. However, the unflavored kind of yogurt may actually be a healthier alternative to sour cream, if you are seeking that creamy, slightly sour flavor.

Whether it’s to cool down a spicy dish or to elevate a neutral flavor, sour cream is an addition you can feel good about.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Is sour cream healthy? How it compares to yogurt