A common accompaniment to tacos and potatoes, sour cream packs a heavy nutritional weight, with the average 2 tablespoon serving dishing out about 60 calories and 6 grams of fat. While the occasional dollop of sour cream won't harm your health, regular consumption of this dense accompaniment can lead to excess calorie and fat consumption, derailing any healthy eating plan. Substituting healthier options for this high-fat condiment can not only provide the same amount of flavor, but also some key nutrients.
Low-fat yogurt has a similar consistency to sour cream, with much lower fat per serving. A ½ cup serving of low-fat plain yogurt contains about 1.75 grams of fat. Yogurt also supplies a healthy dose of bone-building calcium and phosphorous as well. Yogurt mixed with ground cinnamon provides a nutritious topping for fresh fruit. It can also be combined with herbs and spices to fill the dip bowl for baked tortilla chips, whole-wheat pita bread and fresh vegetables.
Greek yogurt provides the consistency and tangy flavor of regular sour cream, making it an excellent substitute to adorn a baked potato or a taco salad. A 2-tablespoon serving of plain Greek yogurt contains about 10 calories and 2 grams of protein.
Hummus is a creamy dip made from pureed chickpeas and tahini. The nutritional value of hummus varies depending on the recipe, but overall this substitute provides some extra protein that sour cream lacks. Hummus can have many uses, including as a dip for crackers and vegetables or a spread for sandwiches.
Much like yogurt, cottage cheese is a rich source of both protein and calcium, which are necessary for bone health and optimal growth. Additionally, cottage cheese is typically much lower in fat and calories than sour cream, edging it out as a slightly healthier option. For cottage cheese more closely resembling sour cream, blend 1 cup nonfat cottage cheese with 1 tablespoon of skim milk and 2 tablespoons lemon juice.
Packed with vitamin E, antioxidants and monounsaturated fats, avocados offer another naturally healthy alternative to sour cream. Two tablespoons of plain avocado provide about 29 calories with 3 grams of fat. When pureed with other ingredients, they make a smooth guacamole that can be served with many of the same foods that are historically dressed with sour cream such as nachos, salads and baked potatoes.
Silken tofu blended in a food processor can be used to make a vegetarian and vegan-friendly sour cream alternative that is also full of protein. Flavor the tofu with herbs and spices, if desired, in order to add some bold flavors to your favorite recipes.
Sarah Dreifke is a freelance writer based in DeKalb, IL with a passion for nutrition education and the prevention of chronic disease. She holds a Bachelor of Science in both Dietetics and Life Sciences Communication from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Currently, she is working towards a combined Master's Degree in Nutrition and Dietetics as well as a dietetic internship at Northern Illinois University.