Find out what you need to know about mayonnaise

October 9, 2015

The rich flavour and creamy texture of mayonnaise accounts for its wide popularity as a sandwich spread and salad dressing. We'll go over the nutritional value of mayonnaise and share a few recipes so that you can make healthy mayonnaise at home.

Find out what you need to know about mayonnaise

Understand these mayonnaise basics

  • There are several ways to make mayonnaise, but all involve the same basic ingredients: oil, eggs, and an acidic liquid like vinegar or lemon juice. These are whipped together to form a semisolid spread. Egg yolks act as the emulsifying ingredient that allows the oil and vinegar or lemon juice to blend. Mustard, salt, pepper, sugar, and other seasonings may be added.
  • Most types of mayonnaise are good sources of vitamin E, yielding about 10 percent of the adult Recommended Dietary Allowance in one tablespoon. The precise amount varies according to the type of oil used. Those made with sunflower, cottonseed, and safflower oils are highest in this antioxidant nutrient. (Unfortunately, labels of commercial mayonnaise often don't specify the type of oil used.)
  • The eggs in mayonnaise do contribute protein and some minerals, but the amounts are almost negligible when considering the size of a typical serving.
  • A serving of one tablespoon of mayonnaise provides about 100 calories, which is about the same amount found in a tablespoon of butter or margarine. The egg yolks add dietary cholesterol, which should be minimized by anyone with high blood cholesterol, atherosclerosis, or heart disease.
  • Anyone allergic to eggs should avoid mayonnaise. The vinegar can also trigger an allergic reaction in people sensitive to molds. Additionally, most commercial types of mayonnaise and salad dressing have fillers made of gluten, so avoid mayonnaise if you have celiac disease.
  • Low-fat, cholesterol-free, and nonfat mayonnaise substitutes are available. The low-fat versions substitute air, water, starches, and other fillers for some of the oil, whereas nonfat varieties may be made with tofu, yogurt, and other such ingredients.

Make mayo at home!

  • If you're concerned about the type of oil used, you can make your own mayonnaise at home. Most recipes call for olive oil, which is largely monounsaturated fat, although polyunsaturated oils such as corn or safflower can be substi­tuted for a lighter flavour.
  • A homemade recipe calls for tofu, egg whites, lemon juice, salt, mustard, and a little bit of olive oil.
  • The raw eggs used in homemade mayonnaise are a potential source of salmonella. This risk can be avoided by using a pasteurized egg substitute.
  • Fresh mayonnaise should be used within two or three days. Even then, it can become a source of food poisoning if it's allowed to stand at room temperature for more than an hour. Commercial mayonnaise is safer, because its high vinegar content and anti­oxidant preservatives discourage the growth of ­disease-causing organisms.
  • Mayonnaise-type salad dressings contain less fat and fewer calories than regular mayonnaise. Although similar in texture and appearance, they have a more acidic flavour which can be tempered by adding a small amount of yogurt, whipped nonfat cottage cheese, or nonfat sour cream.

5 ways to cut back on mayo

  1. For sandwiches, cut the amount you use in half by spreading it on only one slice of bread. Remember: many moist fillings (such as tuna salad) are already made with mayonnaise.
  2. Try mustard or ketchup in your sandwich instead of mayonnaise. They have much fewer calories and no fat.
  3. Salad dressings made with mayonnaise are laden with calories and fat, whereas lemon juice sparks up a fresh salad and is fat and calorie free. Low-fat yogurt dressings are also healthier alternatives.
  4. When you must have mayonnaise, reduce the damage by mixing it half and half with low-fat plain yogurt or buttermilk.
  5. You can substitute half the amount of mayonnaise you'd normally use with non-fat cottage cheese whipped in a blender for a creamy consistency.

Mayonnaise is delicious and versatile, but eating it in moderation is probably for the best. Use this guide to choose healthier mayos or learn how to make your own. When in doubt, use some of the substitutions or replacements we suggest. That way, you can still enjoy the mayonnaise taste you love while maintaining a healthy diet.

The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
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