Don't forego the sour cream, just make it fat free.

Is Fat-Free Sour Cream Healthy?

by Mike Samuels

Sour cream makes a tasty addition to many Mexican foods such as chilli, tacos and fajitas, and it's also a creamy topping for bagels and sandwiches. Regular sour cream can be very high in fat and calories though, making it far from the ideal dieting food. Switching to the fat-free version is one way you can still enjoy sour cream while cutting your calories and fat intake, helping to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

1. Calories and Fat

A typical fat-free sour cream contains around 20 calories per 30-gram serving, which is around 2 tablespoons. This hardly makes a dent in your recommended daily calorie intake, as United States Department of Agriculture guidelines state that women need between 1,800 and 2,400 calories per day. As for fat, under USDA regulations, non-fat sour cream must contain less than 0.5 grams of fat per 50 grams of product.

2. Potential Health Issues

While fat-free sour cream does provide nutrients such as calcium and vitamin D, it also contains tyramine, which can be a trigger for migraines, according to dietitian Joy Bauer. If you suffer from irritable bowel syndrome, you may also feel discomfort after eating fat-free sour cream. Consult your doctor if you're worried about the potential negative health effects of eating fat-free sour cream.

3. Additives

Going for low-fat and fat-free alternatives isn't always the best idea, according to Annemarie Colbin, professor of nutrition at Empire State College New York. Many fat-free products, such as fat-free sour cream have added artificial gums and starches to improve the taste and texture once the fat has been removed. These added gums can cause digestive issues and make you feel gassy and bloated. You may be better off with just a small serving of the real thing than a large serving of the fat-free version, adds Colbin.

4. Considerations

Fat-free sour cream can be part of a healthy, balanced diet. While you can lose weight by eating regular sour cream, choosing the fat-free option does help cut calories. By skipping the saturated fat in sour cream, you can also eat more fats from heart-healthy monounsaturated sources such as nuts, olive oil and avocados. Swap your carb- and fat-laden baked potato with sour cream and bacon bits for a baked sweet potato with fat-free sour cream and grilled chicken breast for a much healthier comfort meal.

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