Yes, I know mayo is an interesting topic for a Wednesday “healthy eating” post. But this morning I read a healthy eating blog in which the phrase “the heinousness of mayo” occurred and it brought me to a screeching halt.
When did we decide that mayo was “heinous”? (I’m not talking about people who don’t like the taste or texture of mayo – I readily accept that some people don’t like it and find it heinous in that respect. I’m talking about from a healthy eating standpoint.)
This is one of my food/dieting/healthy eating pet peeves. I think the concept has sabotaged more diets and made more people give up on being healthy than any other: the black and whiteness of “bad” vs. “good” foods and the idea that you have to 100% give up things that taste good because they’re “heinous”.
Mayo – even store bought mayo – is not heinous any more than ice cream is heinous or butter is heinous or pizza is heinous. Sure, if you glop piles of mayo on everything without any thought, it can be unhealthy and fattening. So is eating an entire carton of ice cream or a whole stick of butter or a triple cheeseburger with extra cheese.
The idea here, folks, is MODERATION. 1 tablespoon of mayo is 90 calories and 9.5g of fat. Here’s the ingredients list on a popular brand of regular, full-fat mayo:
INGREDIENTS: SOYBEAN OIL, WATER, WHOLE EGGS AND EGG YOLKS, VINEGAR, SALT, SUGAR, LEMON JUICE, NATURAL FLAVORS, CALCIUM DISODIUM EDTA (USED TO PROTECT QUALITY).
Soybean oil has a nice amount of Omega6s in it, and is high in monounsaturated fats – the healthy fats that our body uses, and contains vitamin E. Yes, mayo is high in fat, but so is an avocado. No one is advocating eating a cup of mayo, but 1 T on a sandwich or in a chicken salad is not going to kill you – and in fact it’ll provide you with some of the healthy fats you need to keep your body going.
And let’s talk for just a minute about Light or Low-Fat Mayo. From the same manufacturer, the ingredients list for Light Mayo:
INGREDIENTS: WATER, SOYBEAN OIL, VINEGAR, MODIFIED CORN STARCH**, WHOLE EGGS AND EGG YOLKS, SUGAR, SALT, XANTHAN GUM**, LEMON AND LIME PEEL FIBERS** (THICKENERS), (SORBIC ACID**, CALCIUM DISODIUM EDTA) USED TO PROTECT QUALITY, LEMON JUICE CONCENTRATE, PHOSPHORIC ACID**, DL ALPHA TOCOPHERYL ACETATE (VITAMIN E), NATURAL FLAVORS, BETA CAROTENE**.
Note that every ingredient marked with a ** is, per their own website, an ingredient that isn’t in regular mayo. So personally, I’d rather allow for the 90 calories from the real mayo than use light mayo with only 35 calories, but a huge amount of additives and chemicals that try to recreate that real mayo mouthfeel.
2 T of mayo mixed into a chicken salad is only going to add about 45 calories per serving, while giving flavor and creaminess to the final product. Yes, you can substitute things like mashed avocado or even avoid the mayo altogether and use mustard if you want … but do it for taste or texture, not because of some random idea that mayo is heinous.
There is NOTHING wrong with mayonnaise, eaten in moderation and as part of a healthy diet. It’s certainly a long, long, long way from being “heinous”.
Let’s please get away from hating on food. The vast majority of food is not inherently bad. What we DO with food can be a bad choice or a good choice, but vilifying food itself is not the answer here.
I was going to close this post with one of my favorite recipes for chicken salad – made with mayonnaise. But it’s been a rather hellish week this week and I didn’t get around to writing it up (because I make it by taste and I need to make and measure) or photographing it. So instead I’m leaving you with an image of what I did with the bajillion (ok, so I exaggerate slightly) egg whites I had left over from last months TWD recipes.
I made meringue cookies – and they were delicious!