Mayo: To Eat or Not To Eat? by Cari Culp, RD
Mayo has long been stigmatized as a “bad” food. Most of my clients who like Mayo question whether they should avoid it all together or use it very sparingly. The good news is, with the right mayo, you can enjoy a mindful and satisfying serving without worry. And who doesn’t love a good tomato sandwich this time of year?
When asked if mayonnaise is unhealthy, most people would say “yes, because it is high in fat.” The problem with most conventional mayonnaise is not necessarily the amount of fat, but the type of fat, which is typically highly processed and genetically modified canola and soybean oil. These oils are typically extracted using high temperatures and chemicals that damage the fatty acids making them very inflammatory.
Other factors that affect the quality of mayo include:
-The type of eggs. Are they sustainably raised or are they conventional eggs which are typically exposed to more environmental toxins, hormones and antibiotics?
-Preservatives like calcium disodium EDTA, on the FDA’s list of food additives to be studied for toxicity, and sodium benzoate, which, when mixed with vitamin C, becomes a known carcinogen and can cause DNA damage. And what is typically also in mayo? Lemon juice.
-And, highly processed sugar like high fructose corn syrup.
So to answer the question “Is mayonnaise unhealthy?” Yes, conventional mayo is not a healthy choice but, there are some you can feel good about eating. After all, we all need some healthy fat in moderation, and the right mayo can provide that.
So here are my top picks:
Primal Kitchen or Chosen Foods Avocado Oil Mayo:
These are my favorite because the ingredients are top notch with healthy fats from avocado. Although pricier than most, Costco has the best deal on it in the Chosen Foods brand.
The other great options include:
-All variations of Veganaise (which includes a soy free option if soy is a problem for you)
-Spectrum Organic Omega-3 Mayo
-Hain Safflower Oil Mayo
Each of these are made with cold-pressed or expeller-pressed oils. Cold processing of oils is the best way to go but expeller-pressed is okay too. These options also use real ingredients for flavor and preservation instead of chemicals.
And if you are really into making the healthiest choice, try making your own mayo. The following recipe shows how simple it really can be. Enjoy!
1 to 2 small avocados
1 to 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 to 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 to 3 tablespoons water
sea salt or Herbamare, to taste
Place all ingredients into a bowl and blend with an immersion blender (hand held blender). You can also use a blender or food processor, but given the small quantity of mayo you will be making it is much easier and more efficient to use a hand blender.
*Nutrition Tip: Adding healthy fat from avocado to a meal has been shown to inhibit the oxidation of animal fats (which can contribute to heart disease).