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Is Sour Cream Keto-Friendly?

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 04/17/2024

Sour cream is used in many cuisines and is a staple in Mexican-inspired dishes. But is sour cream keto? 


Yes, you can eat sour cream on the keto diet, depending on the type and quality of the sour cream used.


Learn how to choose a keto-friendly sour cream and discover the best ways to incorporate this delicious dairy product into your diet.


Sour cream with chives

What is sour cream?


Sour cream is regular dairy cream that’s been soured, or fermented, by lactic acid bacteria. Alternatively, sour creams can be made with acids, such as lemon juice, to sour the cream instead. 


Traditional sour cream, made by fermenting heavy cream with bacteria, develops its sour flavor and creamy texture as the bacteria grow and convert lactose to lactic acid. 


This process is similar to how other dairy products such as plain Greek yogurt are cultured and helps preserve the cream.


Watch the video below to learn more about eating dairy on keto.

Is sour cream keto-friendly?


Regular sour cream, or full-fat sour cream, is made with cream containing between 18 and 20 percent milk fat. 


Full-fat sour cream is keto-friendly, but low-fat sour cream and nonfat sour cream are trickier to incorporate into a Healthy Keto® diet due to higher net carb counts.


The carb content of sour cream increases as the fat content decreases, making full-fat sour cream the best low-carb sour cream option.


Here is the fat and carb content of 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of different types of sour cream:

  • Full-fat sour cream: 19 grams of fat, 5 grams of carbs

  • Low-fat sour cream: 14 grams of fat, 7 grams of carbs

  • Nonfat sour cream: 0 grams of fat, 16 grams of carbs


While full-fat sour cream is keto-friendly, it’s important to always check the labels as some types of sour cream are made with carb-containing additives. 


To maintain the thickness and texture of reduced-fat, low-fat, and nonfat sour cream, manufacturers often use thickeners and fillers derived from carbohydrates as fat replacers.


According to an article published in the Annual Review of Food Science and Technology, “Carbohydrate fat replacers usually have low-calorie density and provide gelling, thickening, stabilizing, and other texture-modifying properties.”


This fat reduction is achieved through additives such as starches, gums, maltodextrin, and polydextrose and ensures a similar texture to regular sour cream. 


Consuming sour cream and other full-fat dairy products on keto is generally encouraged and can be nutritious. 


However, the quality of dairy is a point of contention, and conventional and low-fat dairy products may do more harm than good. 


Milk poured into a container

Is sour cream healthy?


High-quality sour cream can be a healthy addition to a nutritious keto diet. It’s high in fat, contains various essential nutrients, and can be incorporated into multiple keto recipes.


Here are three ways sour cream may support your health.


1. Supports digestive functions 

Sour cream is a fermented dairy product containing live microorganisms, called probiotics, which help maintain gut bacteria diversity. 


A study published in Frontiers in Microbiology highlights the positive effects of probiotics on digestive and gut health. 


The authors also suggest supplementing with probiotics may improve lactose intolerance, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and general digestive discomfort.  


2. Enhances absorption of fat-soluble vitamins

Sour cream has a high fat content, which aids the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. Adequately absorbing these nutrients is essential for immunity and healthy skin. 


3. Promotes weight loss

Two tablespoons (30 grams) of sour cream contains around six grams of fat. This helps you feel fuller for longer, which prevents overeating and snacking, two primary reasons for weight gain. 


Sour cream in a white dish

Sour cream nutrition facts


Although the quality of sour cream can affect the nutrient content, sour cream is high in fat and generally a good source of various nutrients. 


According to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), a typical serving size of two tablespoons of regular sour cream contains:

  • 60 calories

  • 6 g total fat

  • 1 g protein 

  • 2 g total carbs 

    • 0 g fiber

    • 2 g net carbs 


Regular sour cream also contains many beneficial vitamins and minerals that may support healthy bodily functions.


Sour cream is a good source of various nutrients, including:

  • Vitamin A

  • Vitamin B2

  • Vitamin B12

  • Calcium

  • Potassium

  • Phosphorus

  • Magnesium

  • Iron

  • Zinc

  • Copper

  • Choline


Variety of dairy with intolerance sign

When to avoid dairy


Conventional dairy cattle are often raised on feed containing synthetic hormones and antibiotics, which can lead to hormonal imbalance and antibiotic resistance in humans. 


If you don’t have access to organic, grass-fed sour cream and dairy products, it may be best to avoid them. 


Dairy is rich in estrogen. Women, especially, may experience adverse health effects from consuming dairy. 


Research published in the Iranian Journal of Health shows that dairy consumption may lead to hormonal imbalance and menstrual irregularities such as heavy bleeding and cramps in women with excess estrogen. 


Concerning the link between acne and dairy, Dr. Berg states, “Dairy contains growth factors and hormones, including androgens and estrogens. These hormones can stimulate the growth of sebaceous glands, which can trigger acne.”


In addition, sour cream can cause digestive issues in those with lactose intolerance.


Lactose intolerance occurs in individuals who lack lactase, an enzyme that helps digest lactose in milk products. Those with lactose intolerance often experience symptoms of bloating, nausea, diarrhea, gas, and gastrointestinal pain after consuming dairy.


Sour cream in a wooden bowl

How to choose a high-quality sour cream


Full-fat sour cream contains more milk fat and is generally the most keto-friendly sour cream. 


However, carefully considering the quality and brand claims is important to avoid potentially harmful ingredients.  


Choose organic, grass-fed sour cream to avoid dairy from cows raised with antibiotics, added hormones, or GMO grain feed to reduce the risk of hormonal imbalances, allergies, and inflammatory conditions.


Avoid consuming low-fat or nonfat sour cream, as reducing milk fat dramatically increases the carb content, making them unsuitable for a ketogenic diet. 


In addition to containing carb-derived fat replacers, conventional low-fat sour cream may also contain the following:

  • Maltodextrin

  • Artificial color

  • Corn syrup solids


To ensure you choose a keto-friendly sour cream, carefully check the label for the fat content, carb count, and any potential additives and fillers. 


Sour cream and taco bowl

Ways to enjoy sour cream on keto


Eating too many carbs can kick you out of ketosis, which can hinder weight loss. If you plan to incorporate sour cream into your diet, ensure you don’t exceed your daily net carb limit. 


Here are seven keto-friendly sour cream recipes that keep your body in ketosis!


1. Carne asada bowl 

This carne asada bowl recipe uses skirt steak, avocados, fresh herbs, spices, and leafy greens to create a delicious, colorful, and nutritious keto salad. 


Dress with the tangy cilantro lime sauce, made with full-fat sour cream.


2. Taco salad

Taco salads are a staple in the ketogenic diet. 


Made with hamburger meat, homemade guacamole, and sour cream, this salad is a simple and healthy meal for busy days.


3. Biscuits and gravy

With this biscuits and gravy recipe, you won’t have to miss out on your favorite traditional breakfast.


The biscuits, made with almond flour, cheddar cheese, butter, and sour cream, are flavorful and topped with pork sausage gravy.  


This high-fat meal is delicious and may help make your transition into keto easier.


4. Broccoli cheddar casserole

This one-dish casserole is perfect as a side to your favorite protein.  


This low-carb recipe is tasty and filling, with three different cheeses, sour cream, garlic powder, and broccoli.


5. Keto tacos

Learn to make your own almond flour tortillas with this keto tacos recipe


These almond flour tacos are made with grass-fed beef and topped with Mexican cheese, sour cream, pico de gallo, and lettuce for a festive taco night.


6. Sour cream chips

Made with almond flour, mozzarella, onion, garlic, and chives, these sour cream chips pack a cheesy and savory crunch. 


Pair with a garlicky sour cream dip for extra flavor.


7. Cheesy keto cauliflower bites

Inspired by loaded baked potatoes, these cheesy keto cauliflower bites are made with shredded cheese, sour cream, bacon, and scallions. 


Cauliflower bites are an excellent appetizer for virtually any protein and side dish.


Garlic and herb sour cream dip

Key takeaways


Is sour cream keto? Yes, full fat-sour cream is low in carbs and keto-friendly. 


Sour cream contains probiotics that can benefit the gut microbiome. It’s also high in fat, which helps satiate hunger, supports weight loss, and enhances the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. 


For those who can tolerate dairy, opt for an organic, grass-fed sour cream to minimize exposure to hormones, antibiotics, and additives. 



FAQ


1. How many carbs are in sour cream?

Two tablespoons (30 grams) of full-fat sour cream contains around 1.4 grams of carbs. Low-fat and nonfat sour cream typically have a higher carb content due to carb-based thickeners added during fat reduction processes.


2. Is sour cream keto-friendly?

Yes, sour cream is keto-friendly. However, opting for full-fat sour cream over reduced-fat alternatives is important. Low-fat sour creams often contain additional carbs and aren’t suitable for Healthy Keto®. 


3. How much sour cream can I have on keto?

To stay in ketosis, it’s best to limit your net carb intake to between 20 and 50 grams per day. 


The average serving size for sour cream is two tablespoons, which contains 1.4 grams of carbs.  


4. Is sour cream healthy to have on keto?

Yes, sour cream is healthy on the ketogenic diet if it’s organic and from grass-fed cows. Conventional sour cream may contain carb-containing additives, antibiotics, or growth hormones.  


Opting for organic, grass-fed sour cream limits exposure to potentially harmful ingredients, which helps avoid adverse health effects such as hormonal imbalances and antibiotic resistance. 



Sources


  1. https://www.annualreviews.org/doi/10.1146/annurev-food-030216-030034

  2. https://www.frontiersin.org/journals/microbiology/articles/10.3389/fmicb.2023.1216674/full  

  3. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/1097906/nutrients 

  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4524299/ 


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