Pregnancy typically comes with a lot excitement and uncertainty, especially when it comes to knowing what foods are considered safe for you and your developing baby.
Sour cream is a popular dairy food that’s often paired with potatoes and used to top foods like soup, chili, and nachos. Because sour cream is a dairy product, you may wonder whether it’s OK to eat it while you’re pregnant.
While it’s generally considered safe, there are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to enjoying sour cream during pregnancy.
Sour cream is a dairy product made from fermenting regular milk cream with lactic acid bacteria. When the bacteria mix with the cream, it thickens the texture and turns the taste a little sour, hence its name.
Some brands of sour cream contain additives and preservatives, but you can also make your own by combining heavy whipping cream with an acid, such as lemon juice or vinegar, and some milk.
While you may think that homemade sour cream is healthier, there are actually benefits to buying sour cream at the store, especially when you’re pregnant.
Store-bought sour cream is generally safe during pregnancy because it has undergone pasteurization, which involves heating the product to a temperature that will kill harmful bacteria so that it’s safe to eat, even during pregnancy.
To be sure, look for the word “pasteurized” on the label before purchasing a sour cream product at the store.
If you opt to make your own sour cream, it won’t undergo pasteurization. As such, it may be unsafe to consume during pregnancy.
Consuming unpasteurized sour cream is considered unsafe during pregnancy because it may contain Listeria monocytogenes, a bacteria that would normally be killed through pasteurization.
A listeria infection is known to be dangerous to both pregnant women and developing babies because it can cause listeriosis.
This serious infection causes fever and flu-like symptoms for the expecting mom, and it can lead to miscarriage, still-birth, premature delivery, and life threatening infections in newborns (
Even if you purchase a pasteurized product, it’s important to check its expiration date. Be sure to store your sour cream and other dairy products at 40°F (4°C) or colder in the refrigerator, where it can safely be kept in the refrigerator for about 1–3 weeks (2,
If sour cream is kept out of the refrigerator for too long, harmful bacteria can start to grow, making it no longer safe to consume, especially when you’re pregnant.
You can tell that sour cream has gone bad by checking for mold and watery liquid. Because pregnant women are considered at risk for listeriosis, it’s a good idea to err on the side of caution and use the sour cream closer to its sell-by date.
Additionally, avoid putting a utensil in your mouth and then dipping it into the container of sour cream, as bacteria from your mouth can contaminate the product.
Lastly, when eating out, it’s a good idea to check with your server before ordering a dish that includes sour cream, just to ensure that it has been pasteurized.
Sour cream is typically consumed in smaller amounts as a condiment or topping. However, you may find yourself reaching it for it more often if you are pregnant, as many pregnant people often crave creamy and higher fat foods.
Sour cream is relatively high in fat. Fat is an important nutrient during pregnancy, but eating too much may increase your risk of gestational diabetes. Half of the fat in sour cream is saturated, and saturated fat has been linked to poor heart health (
Sour cream is a fermented product, so in theory, it may contain probiotics, which could benefit digestion. However, because the product is then pasteurized, most commercial brands no longer contain these probiotics (
Given its high fat content and lack of major health benefits, it’s best to enjoy sour cream in moderation during pregnancy.
You might try substituting sour cream with plain Greek yogurt, which has a similar taste and texture but offers much more nutritional bang for your buck, as it includes protein and calcium.
Pasteurized dairy products, including sour cream, are perfectly safe to consume during pregnancy.
Be sure to look for the word “pasteurized” on the label when choosing a product, and always keep it at a safe temperature in the refrigerator.
It’s important to stay on top of expiration dates and consume the sour cream by the expiration date on the label.
Just one thing
Try this today: While most dairy products are pasteurized, get in the habit of checking labels or asking about this at restaurants just to be sure you’re getting a product that’s safe to eat during pregnancy.