Sour cream is a versatile dairy product used in many dishes, from baked potatoes to dips and dressings. However, for individuals who are lactose intolerant, consuming dairy products can cause unpleasant symptoms such as nausea, bloating, and/or cramps. Therefore, it is important to determine whether sour cream contains lactose, as this will affect how much can be consumed, if any, by those who are lactose intolerant.
In this article, we answer the question of whether sour cream has lactose, discussing the amount of lactose typically found in sour cream and the implications for those with lactose intolerance.
Is There Lactose in Sour Cream?
In short, yes, sour cream does contain lactose. Lactose is a natural sugar found in milk and most dairy products, including sour cream. Our bodies contain an enzyme called lactase which helps break down the lactose. If the body fails to produce enough lactase, it becomes difficult to digest lactose which can result in various digestive issues such as nausea, vomiting, and gas.
How Much Lactose in Sour Cream?
The University of Virginia Health System estimates that sour cream contains about 0.7 grams of lactose per 2 tablespoons. To put this into perspective, research has shown that individuals with lactose-intolerance can typically handle up to 12 grams of lactose at once and 18 grams consumed at various points throughout the day.
The amount of lactose in sour cream is relatively low compared to other dairy products such as milk and ice cream. Based on the above noted research, many people who have lactose intolerance or sensitivity can consume sour cream without experiencing symptoms. This is a particularly true if the sour cream is consumed with other foods to help slow down the digestion of the lactose.
You may wish to try a small amount of sour cream in your diet to see how your body handles it. For example, add a 1/2 tablespoon into your food and take note of how you feel throughout the day without consuming any other dairy. You can then try the same process with a bit more sour cream at a future date. Keep repeating this process until you feel symptoms of lactose intolerance or you reach a maximum level of sour cream that you are willing to consume.
Lactose-Free Sour Cream
Some brands of sour cream may be labeled as “lactose-free” or “low-lactose,” which means they contain added lactase to break down the lactose from the milk used to make the sour cream. If you are interested in this type of sour cream, two brands to consider are Lactaid and Green Valley Creamery. To find out where the brands can be purchased near you, visit the websites linked in the previous sentence.
Here are the ingredients in each of these sour creams:
Lactaid Sour Cream Ingredients: Cultured Pasteurized Light Cream and Non-Fat Milk, Enzymes Including Lactase.
Green Valley Sour Cream Ingredients: Pasteurized Cultured Cream (Milk), Lactase Enzyme, Live and Active Cultures.
sour cream does contain lactose, and individuals with lactose intolerance should be mindful of their consumption. However, the amount of lactose in sour cream is relatively low, and some may be able to tolerate it in moderation. As always, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional if you have any concerns about your dietary needs.
WebMD. (n.d.). 5 foods high in lactose to avoid. WebMD. Retrieved February 20, 2023, from https://www.webmd.com/diet/foods-high-in-lactose