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Fat Free Sour Cream- Is It Really Worth It?

I was reading a nutrition newsletter this morning and a section on dairy products caught my attention. It was the promotion of consuming “fat-free” sour cream that raised the red flag on my radar.

Not that I’m all that surprised as I still see some nutritionists pushing fat-free foods though for the life of me I can’t figure out why. It seems the war on dietary fat isn’t over.

We’ve been stripping fats from foods for the past two decades and where has it got us? Heart disease is more prevalent today than it’s ever been. I’ve long taken the position that something just doesn’t seem right with most of these fat-free foods.

They strip the natural product, modify the ingredients in some lab, add some artificial ingredients and say “here this is better for you.”

Really?

I won’t go on my normal rant about the claims that dietary fat is the “evil culprit” to our health problems. I’ll just say I don’t believe this to be true. Sure, if you’re loading up on saturated fat, especially in a diet that’s high in starches or processed foods, there’s going to be a problem.

But a little bit of saturated fat in an otherwise clean, whole food diet of mostly lean proteins, greens, vegetables, fruits, etc, isn’t going to pose much of a problem. In the absence of lots of sugar in your diet, the body can break down the fat and use it for energy production.

I want to show you the ingredients for two types of sour cream and let you be the judge on what “feels right” in your gut about which one is a better choice.

First let’s look at a “fat free” version of sour cream.

The ingredients are a little hard to read so let me list them out for you.

- cultured pasteurized grade A nonfat milk
- dried corn syrup
- food starch- modified cream
- maltodextrin
- artificial color
- xanthan gum
- natural flavor
- vitamin A Palmitate

A single serving (32 grams- whatever that is? can’t we use tablespoons please?) contains the following:

Total fat: 0 grams
Saturated fat: 0 grams
Total carbs: 5 grams
Sugars: 2 grams
Calories: 30

Alright let’s look at the “regular” sour cream from the same manufacturer.

Here’s the ingredients for this product…

- cultured pasteurized grade A milk and cream
- enzymes

A 30 gram serving size (comparable) contains the following:

Total fat: 6 grams
Saturated fat: 3.5 grams
Total Carbs: 1 gram
Calories: 60

Ok, so let me get this straight, we’re saving a whopping 30 calories by eating this modified food product made from fillers and artificial ingredients. Big whoopie. That’s really going to swing the balance in your total caloric intake.

Granted, I wouldn’t be consuming this product regularly anyways because what are you normally going to use it for? Likely on a baked potato or as an ingredient in a casserole, etc. Things that aren’t staples in a Primal Blueprint type diet anyways. But when I do eat a baked potato I’ll take real milk and cream and not a bunch of modified and artificial ingredients please.

A few things worth noting in the comparison of the two products.

First off you’ve got enzymes in the real sour cream but they’re absent in the fat-free version. Is there anybody but me that thinks enzymes are a natural part of sour cream and serve a purpose in your body?

What’s up with the dried corn starch, xanthan gum, maltodextrin, and modified cream in the fat free version? Remember if you pull the natural fat out something else has to go back in or you’d be left with a sloppy pile of goo.

Which ingredients seem more “natural” to you?

I’m not going to convince anyone who’s set on going “low-fat” in their diet even if that means consuming modified food products. If you’re going to continue eating a higher carbohydrate diet with lots of whole grains and starches then yeah you’re probably better off really looking to reduce fat content. But then again I wouldn’t recommend that anyways.

On the occasion I’ll have a baked potato I think I’ll stay with real cream and take my chances.

Call me crazy but I’ve got a gut feeling that the more man messes with food and tries to make it “better” the worse off we’ll be. Take genetically modified crops as another example. But that’s a whole other subject for another day.

That’s my two cents on the whole fat free sour cream subject for what it’s worth.

Shane Doll is a certified Charleston fitness trainer, fat loss expert, speaker, and founder of Shaping Concepts. With a staff of over 10 certified fitness professionals, Shaping Concepts provides personal fitness programs with a specialty on weight loss and body transformation. Sign up for a FREE, no-obligations consultation today.

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Category: Nutrition.