Sour Cream: Enjoying Fat, in Moderation


pancake and sour cream

I have two vivid childhood memories related to food. The first: my first taste of real, full-fat sour cream. The second: my first bite into a slice of fresh, crusty bread smeared with a thick layer of yellow, European butter.

Both felt like heaven, and both took place at my Dutch grandparents’ home. This is no coincidence – by the time I turned ten, in the eighties, the “low fat” trend was hot. People became suspicious of fat, trying to minimize their fat consumption as much as possible. My grandparents were among the few who had insisted that enjoying fat in moderation was fine.

Of course, we had given up on a lot when we stopped consuming fat. Fat is actually essential for survival,and up to 35% of daily calories SHOULD come from fat. Fat is needed for normal growth and development, for energy, for helping our body absorb vitamins, and for providing taste, consistency, and stability to foods.

When food manufacturers had responded to consumer demand and removed fat from their products, many of those foods tasted bad! So manufacturers added sugar and artificial flavors to those foods. Now, instead of consuming small quantities of fatty foods (since they are so satisfying), we started consuming large quantities of overly sweet, processed foods, never feeling satisfied, because fat helps us feel satiated.

Thankfully, in recent years, consumers are learning to prefer natural products with a short ingredients list and stay away from fillers, preservatives, and artificial colors and flavors. Finally, the pendulum is swinging in the other direction.

We’re not advocating going crazy with your consumption of saturated fats, of course. The bulk of your fat consumption should still come from heart-healthy fats such as those found in olive oil. But enjoying a little butter on your bread, or some sour cream on your baked potato, is a wonderful way to capture that amazing feeling of satisfaction that I had when I first tried real, full-fat, sour cream and butter at my European grandparents’ home.

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