Sour Cream

Basically, a dairy product, sour cream is prepared by fermenting cream using lactic acid bacteria. This bacteria culture is introduced to the cream either naturally or artificially and it helps the cream to condense as well as turn sour.

Sour cream gets its name from the lactic acid bacteria that are employed to ferment various dairy products and make them taste sour. The cream becomes thicker as well as further acidic during the fermentation process. Sour cream also contains some percentage of butter fat, varying from 18 per cent to 20 per cent. Sour cream has a number of uses, including dressing salads and also in baking. In many families, it forms a vital item in their daily breakfast. Often, it is also used in the form of a condiment while preparing soups. In Spanish, sour cream is known as la crema agria. There are three varieties of sour cream - regular sour cream, non-fat sour cream and reduced fat sour cream. All these varieties of sour creams are readily available in food stores in your neighbourhood.

Unadulterated sour cream is basically a diary product that is mainly prepared from cream. It contains very high amounts of fat and is loved by many people. French creme fraiche is a similar product, while the creamy dairy product that is used as topping for several Mexican dishes is known as crema Mexicana.

When bacteria obtained from lactic acid is added to cream, it makes its flavour sour. Sour cream and yogurt are somewhat similar, but yogurt is usually prepared by using other bacteria for fermenting milk. The bacteria used to prepare sour cream as well as yogurt are basically used to culture the cream, thereby making it become thicker as well as sour. Prior to being cultured, milk has a somewhat sweet flavour in its original form. However, sour cream possesses an extra whiz that makes it a very sought-after food ingredient.

Nevertheless, with an increasing awareness about healthy weight and many closely monitoring their waistlines to remain fit and slim, many do not prefer sour cream in its original form. It encloses anything between 18 per cent and 20 per cent fat. Using it in different foods can considerably increase the calorie content of those foods or food products. Therefore, some varieties of either non-fat or low-fat sour cream have been developed to neutralize the high calories content of this food ingredient.

Light or low fat sour cream is prepared using part milk and part cream. Often, it also requires stabilizers to facilitate obtaining the preferred thickness of sour cream. On the other hand, non-fat sour cream is prepared using non-fat milk and it usually requires a considerable quantity of stabilizers such as gaur gum and carrageenan with a view to reproduce the conventional thickness of sour cream. Both, low fat as well as non-fat sour cream are relatively less creamy and they may also not be as sour as the traditional sour cream. For people who are very conscious about their waistlines, such varieties can prove to be excellent substitutes for traditional sour cream.

This aside, yogurt, which is similar to sour cream in many respects, is not only an excellent diet, but also very helpful for digestion of other ingested foods. It is worth mentioning here that even whole milk yogurt does not contain as much of fat as sour cream. In fact, many varieties of plain yogurt contain relatively much higher quantities of active bacteria cultures. People, especially those with problems consuming beans may find that adding a dollop of yogurt to any bean preparation may be helpful in reducing their gas problems significantly.

Often, sour cream is served as toppings on different foods. It may be used as toppings on baked potatoes or various Mexican dishes. In addition, sour cream is a main ingredient is specific "cream" dressings such as Ranch dressing and can also be used as dips for potato chips. Sour cream is heavily used in baked foods. Aside from this, it also forms the liquids for various foods including cakes, pancakes, biscuits, muffins, waffles or scones.

You can also use sour cream to thicken any sauce. In fact, the typical tangy flavour of Hungarian goulash is attributed to sour cream. Sometimes, sour cream is also included in recipes for making cheesecake. This dairy product is blended with cream cheese with the objective of providing a rich and zesty cheesecake offering.

Health benefits

Sour cream offers various health benefits, as it encloses sufficient quantities of a number of nutrients. It contains elevated amounts of fat, which is an excellent source of energy. In addition, it contains some essential minerals like calcium and phosphorus. This dairy product is frequently added to jellies, bakes, soups, stews, creams, pastry, sweet as well as salty pastry fillings and even roasts.

This dairy product contains phosphorus, which keeps the teeth and bones healthy; hence, it is essential for our body. Phosphorus also helps to promote the health of our gums, in addition to tooth enamel. This essential mineral also helps to alleviate a number of health conditions like osteoporosis, aside from preventing diminishing mineral density. Phosphorus is also related to the health of our heart and it works to effectively put off development of cardiovascular disease.

Similarly, calcium promotes the health of the heart muscles and facilities the cardiac muscles' contraction. At the same time, calcium helps to create suitable pressure inside the arteries. When there is any decline in the level of calcium in our body, it releases calcitrol that facilitates the contraction of the muscles of arteries by increasing the blood pressure. When contraction of the arteries is needed, extra cellular calcium ions are needed by the cardiac muscles. These calcium ions gather atop protein troponin, thereby increasing the concentration of calcium inside the cells. Moreover, calcium also helps to prop up extra cellular fluid as well as intercellular discharge, which also includes the skeletal muscle. In fact, calcium inside the sarcoplasmic reticulum works to activate the skeletal muscle.

Sour cream also contains vitamin B12, which is useful in maintaining the health and normal functioning of the different types of cells found in our body. In addition, this B vitamin also helps in various other functions like the formation, preservation as well as repair of the red blood cells (erythrocytes). Vitamin B also maintains the nerve cells in our body, thereby preserving our nervous system.

Vitamin B12 is also essential for treating Alzheimer's disease, whose symptoms may include confusion and cognitive degeneration. Findings of a study revealed that people suffering from Alzheimer's have very poor levels of vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 found in sour cream is important for the development as well as growth of the reproductive organs and body tissues including those present in the mucous membrane, skin, eyes and the immune system. This B vitamin is also useful for the health of our skin, hair and nails.

Aside from vitamin B12, sour cream also contains another B vitamin called vitamin B2, which plays a crucial role in producing and maintaining the mucous membrane found in our digestive system.

Vitamin A present in sour cream is useful in promoting our eyesight. Intake of this vitamin keeps the eyes moist and also helps the eyes to adjust with the changes in light. In our eyes, this vitamin takes the form of visual purple, which promotes the health of the eyes. In addition, it also puts off development of conditions like night blindness and provides a boost to the retina by enhancing the adaptability of the human eye to lightness and darkness. Vitamin A is essential for people suffering from glaucoma to alleviate the symptoms associated with the condition.

There are several other benefits of vitamin A intake. It helps to augment the body's immunity, thereby equipping the body to combat various infections. It also keeps the mucus membrane moist, and in this way, promotes the body's immunity as well as the white blood cell (leukocyte) activity. In addition, vitamin A helps to put off germs and neutralizes infections by providing us with a double line of protection.

Sour cream also contains significant amount of protein, which helps in maintaining the health of the hair. At the same time, protein prevents hair fall and protects it from damages. We are aware that almost all hair care products contain protein as an active element. Protein is especially used in the production of conditioners.

Protein is also useful for reinforcing the tissues and it helps to repair the tissues, which are always under pressure from wear and tear. Collagen is an indispensable protein that makes the cells, tissues and organs stronger. Collagen provides us with youthful, low wrinkled and healthy skin. Therefore, it is essential for our body to have sufficient amounts of collagen.