Fit Kitchen Substitution: Mayonnaise 

 December 24, 2016

By  nick

The simplest way to start eating healthier is to take what you’re already eating and upgrade it.
When building a foundation of great healthier-substitutions in your kitchen, it can be difficult to see through the nutrition labels in your cupboard. (Especially if you didn’t have a grandmama from the old days to show you how it’s really done.)
Let’s talk mayonnaise.

The Old Days

The mayonnaise your taste buds know and love traditionally boils down to three simple ingredients:
  • oil (olive)
  • vinegar / lemon juice
  • and egg yolks

Additionally, your grandmother might have added some spices and dijon mustard for flavor.

Today, your jar of mayo is likely made by Kraft / Hellmann’s and has a bunch of additional unnecessary ingredients in it. Some of these could easily be replaced with healthier alternatives or removed entirely.

Mayonnaise as a condiment is HIGH in fat (the oil and egg yolks), LOW in carbohydrate, and LOW in protein.

So, the three easiest ways we can boost the nutritional power of this condiment are to:

  1. increase the protein content
  2. upgrade to a healthier fat source
  3. reduce the total fat content (if your diet calls for it)

Increase Protein Content

Mayonnaise doesn’t traditionally contain a protein source since the eggs are not included in significant quantities.

This is usually a good way to increase the nutritional benefit of many recipes, but who eats more than a tablespoon (or few) of mayo at a time?

A serving size just isn’t big enough; just eat some meat at your meal instead.

Choose a Healthier Fat Source

The mayo you buy from the grocery store gets its oil component from soybean oil.

We know that soybean oil is high in pro-inflammatory omega-6 polyunsaturated fats. In general, we already eat too much of these.

No bueno.

A better option is to replace it with olive oil, preferably extra virgin olive oil if you can handle the strong taste.

Olive oil is high in monounsaturated fat, which has been shown to have positive effects on body composition and fat distribution and is less inflammatory than the fats in soybean oil.

“But wait!”

I hear you say…

“They already make an olive oil version! Great – can I just buy that?”

Good eye! But have a deeper look first. Those food marketing pros can be tricky.

Conduct Your Own Investigation

Don’t take my word for it, let’s explore the ingredients together.


Here’s the original Hellman’s Mayonnaise ingredients list.

It reads…

Ingredients: soybean oil, water, whole eggs and egg yolks, vinegar, salt, sugar, lemon juice concentrate, Calcium Disodium EDTA, natural flavors

Here’s the version made with olive oil.

It reads…

Ingredients: water, soybean oil, olive oil, whole eggs and egg yolks, sugar, modified potato starch, vinegar, salt, lemon juice concentrate, sorbic acid, Calcium Disodium EDTA, natural flavors, extractives of paprika

Since the ingredients are listed by highest to lowest weight, we can see that even in the product made with olive oil, there is still at least as much (but likely even more) soybean oil.

(Because we’re only concerned with quality of calories here, we will overlook total calories and macronutrients for now.)

So even though there’s a mayonnaise product with olive oil in it, it doesn’t actually accomplish our goal of replacing unhealthy fats (soybean oil) with healthy fats (olive oil.)

The food companies can claim that their product is “Made with Olive Oil” – because it is. But, it’s not made with just olive oil, or even primarily olive oil.

Here’s our first reason to make our own mayonnaise.

So let’s keep moving.

Reduce the Fat Content

By reducing the fat content, we can free up some calories to eat more of other things or to burn more body fat during a fat loss diet.

The easiest way to reduce fat content in mayonnaise would be to use less oil in the recipe.

“But wait!”

I hear you say again…

“They already make a light version! Great – can I just buy that?”

Let’s investigate.

Since we’d want to reduce fat content mainly to reduce overall calories, let’s look at the Nutrition Facts first.

The light version does a good job of reducing calories by over 50% due to the reduction in fat.

But where do these 35 calories come from?

Does nutrient quality hold up?

hellmans light mayo.jpg

Here’s the ingredients list for the Hellmann’s mayo light version.

It reads…

Ingredients: water, soybean oil, modified food starch, eggs, sugar, salt, vinegar, lemon juice concentrate, sorbic acid, Calcium Disodium EDTA, natural flavors, extractives of paprika, vitamin E

(The ingredients in bold differ from the original version.)

The only significant difference is the addition of modified food starch, which is added as a thickener to improve the mouthfeel and spreadability of the product. As a starch, this adds unnecessary refined carbohydrate/sugar.

But wait!

Did you notice there’s more food starch than there are eggs?

What do we think, Fry?


We can do better.

DIY Mayo

Feeling adventurous on a Friday night?

Easy do-it-yourself mayonnaise is just a blended mixture of oil, egg yolks, vinegar, lemon juice, and spices.

Try making your own mayonnaise with this great recipe. (A good idea is to use light-tasting olive oil to bring out the taste of the other ingredients.)

DIY Diet Mayo

Are you ready to go completely nuts?

Or maybe you’re just be super lazy like me.

As we discussed earlier, we might not be able to add much protein to our diets from some “super-mayonnaise,” but we can use protein-rich Greek yogurt to dramatically decrease the caloric content of our “mayonnaise.”

For a simple mayonnaise super-substitution, try mixing apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar with any fat-level of plain unsweetened Greek yogurt. (Even full-fat Greek yogurt would have a very low total fat content as you will see below.)

You’ll get all the thick creamy goodness you want from mayonnaise with all the tangy vinegary goodness and like, none of the fat.

Here’s a fairly good recipe from Dr. Oz (believe it or not).

If you’re used to using say, 30g / 2tbsp of mayo on your meat patty or in an individual serving of tuna salad, here are comparisons for the calories provided:

  • 30g of Hellmann’s regular mayonnaise (0g carbohydrate; 20g of fat, 0g protein = about 180 calories)
  • 30g of Hellmann’s light mayonnaise (1g carbohydrate; 7g of fat, 0g protein = about 65 calories)
  • 30g of low-fat Greek yogurt (1g carbohydrate, <1g fat, 3g protein = about 20 calories)
  • 30g of full-fat Greek yogurt (1g carbohydrate, 1.5g fat, 3g protein = about 30 calories)

As you can see, this simple substitution dramatically reduces the calories of your creamy tangy spread so you can eat as much as you want and feel damn good about it.

And isn’t that the whole point?





Your Signature

  • Greek yogurt + vinegar = MIND BLOWN

    I’m trying this ASAP. I’ve been pretty successful in my quest to eliminate soybean oil from my diet, but along the way have had to sacrifice a few favorite quick meals like tuna salad. This alternative sounds like a win-win. Thanks!

  • {"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

    Subscribe to our newsletter now!