Is Mayonnaise Good for You?

The famously fatty condiment can still be part of healthy diet.

June 07, 2022

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Photo by: Image Source/Getty

Image Source/Getty

It’s the quintessential “bad” food laden with artery clogging saturated fat. For years, we’ve been told to “hold the mayo,” but is it really as bad as they say?

Nutrition Lowdown

There’s no doubt that mayonnaise is brimming with fat. One cup contains 1440 calories, 160 grams of fat and 24 grams of saturated fat. It’s an excellent source of vitamins E and K, but it also contains almost 50 percent of your daily recommended amount of sodium.

Compromising Fat and Flavor

Fatty foods like mayonnaise have flavor and mouthfeel that many folks enjoy. Adding a cup of mayo to a dish will rack up the calories quickly. So, what’s a mayo-lover to do?

Moderation is one direction to take. Instead of drowning tuna or pasta salad in boatloads of mayo, use 1 tablespoon per person. One tablespoon contains 103 calories, 12 grams of fat and 2 grams of saturated fat. This keeps things much more reasonable.

Mayonnaise Alternatives

If you’re worried about too many calories or just don’t want regular mayo around, there are many alternatives available at the market. Lighter varieties use a laundry list of fat replacers (like xanthan gum and corn starch), preservatives (like citric acid) or add sugar (like high fructose corn syrup) to boost flavor. So they may be lighter in calorie count, but heavier on additives.

Lighter Versions

  • Light Mayonnaise: Any food labeled as “light” contains one-third fewer calories than the regular version. Per tablespoon this mayo contains 45 calories, 4.5 grams of fat and 0.5 grams of saturated fat.
  • Reduced Fat Mayonnaise: Any food labeled as “reduced fat” contains 25 percent or less cholesterol and 2 grams of saturated fat or less than the full fat version. Per tablespoon this mayo contains 25 calories, 2 grams fat, and no saturated fat.

Alternate Oil-Based Versions

Canola oil, avocado oil and olive oil mayonnaise are available as “healthier” options. Both are higher in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, but the calories are the same. Additionally, olive oil-based versions tend to combine olive oil with other vegetable oils so that the flavor isn’t too overpowering. Many of these varieties do have reduced fat and lower calorie versions, so look for them at the market Here’s the nutrition info per tablespoon.

  • Canola Oil Mayonnaise: 100 calories, 11 grams fat, 0.5 grams saturated fat
  • Avocado Oil Mayonnaise: 100 calories, 11 grams fat, 1.5 grams saturated fat
  • Olive Oil Mayonnaise: 100 calories, 11 grams fat, 1.5 grams saturated fat
  • Reduced-Fat Olive Oil Mayonnaise: 45 calories, 4 grams fat, 0 grams saturated fat

Vegan Versions

Vegan varieties are also available. The one from Spectrum Organics is canola oil-based and eggless. Chosen Foods makes one with avocado oil and Only Plant Based makes its version from rapeseed oil, which comes in a plain flavor along with chipotle and garlic. All these options are suitable for folks who follow a vegan diet or are allergic to eggs.


Photo by: milanfoto/Getty


Bottom Line

There’s no denying that mayonnaise is high in saturated fat. That doesn’t mean you should ban it for life. It can be a part of a healthy diet when eaten in very small amounts. If you’re trying to cut calories and keep the mayo, many light and reduced fat varieties are available at the market. If you're trying to cut back on additives, you can always make your own.

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