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Is Sour Cream Bad For You?



Short answer

There are various types of sour cream, so the benefits and risks will vary depending on the one you choose. That said, all sour cream can be harmful when overconsumed.



Recommended Alternative

Long answer

Sour cream is very popular with a wide variety of dishes. It is made from cream that contains lactic acid bacteria (which gives it its flavor). People looking to eat sour cream can choose from full-fat, reduced –fat, and fat-free sour cream. A quick caveat: fat-free does not mean “contains no fat” but rather “for every 50g of sour cream, there is less than 0.5g of fat.” Those opting for the flavorful option of full-fat sour cream should be aware of the potentially harmful side effects of consuming too much.

In just one tablespoon of full-fat sour cream, there are 23 calories. Calories from fat constitute over 90% of the total caloric amount, with approximately 60% of the fat coming from saturated fat. Saturated fat is a “bad” fat and is responsible for increasing the levels of cholesterol in the blood stream thereby leading to an increased risk of heart disease. Even eating fat-free sour cream is not completely safe, as it contains tyramine, which has been linked to migraines and irritable bowel syndrome. Also, the artificial gums used in fat-free sour cream to improve the flavor may lead to digestive problems such as feeling bloated or gassy.

The positive side to sour cream is that it is high in vital nutrients such as sodium, phosphorus, and Vitamin B. There are also many other nutrients found in sour cream, e.g. potassium, iron, etc. However, the amount of most of these is negligible and for the ones found in any significant quantity, there are healthier alternatives to sour cream that provide the same nutritional benefits. For example, whereas a ½ cup of sour cream provides 6% of the recommended amount of Vitamin B, just having a 1/3 cup of whole grain cereal will give you 100% the amount of Vitamin B your body needs per day.

Possible short-term side effects

  • bloating
  • gas
  • nausea

Possible long-term side effects

  • increased blood pressure
  • increased cholesterol
  • heart disease
  • weight gain

Ingredients to be aware of

  • saturated fat
  • tyramine
  • artificial gums
  • lactic acid bacteria
  • excess calories


  • contains vital nutrients

Healthier alternatives

Our Wellness Pick (what is this?)

Only Plant Based Sour Cream

  • Vegan-friendly
  • Convenient squeeze bottle
  • Shelf-stable product
  • Dairy-free alternative
Learn More!

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Jeff Volling
Published on: 12-29-2015
Last updated: 12-15-2023

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Jeff Volling
Published on: 12-29-2015
Last updated: 12-15-2023

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