Mayonnaise: Harm, Calories and Alternatives


Many housewives find it difficult to imagine their kitchen without mayonnaise. The popularity of this sauce is huge: it is seasoned with salads, dumplings, French fries and sandwiches, barbecue is marinated in it, meat is baked, and even used as cosmetic face masks. And on New Year’s holidays, the consumption of mayonnaise increases several times. At the same time, it is a rich source of fats. So is it bad or good for your diet?

What is Mayonnaise

mayonnaise calories

Mayonnaise is a cold sauce made from vegetable oil, egg yolk, vinegar or lemon juice, sugar, table salt, sometimes mustard, and other seasonings.

History of The Sauce

There are various versions of the origin of mayo, mostly legendary and based on vivid historical events. The most popular of them is the following.

The word “mayonnaise” is associated with the name of the city of Mahon, the capital of the Spanish island of Menorca. Mahon was conquered by the Duke of Richelieu. In 1758, the British laid siege to this city.

The French ran out of food except for eggs and olive oil. From these products, the cooks prepared scrambled eggs and omelets, which the French officers were tired of.

Duke Richelieu ordered his cook to prepare some new dishes. The resourceful cook beat the eggs with butter and seasoned the mixture with salt and spices. The sauce they liked was called “mayonnaise” in honor of the city of Mahon.

Mayonnaise and Its Classification

Industrial mayonnaise follows the traditional recipe but uses refined oils and eggs in the form of egg powder. The use of refined butter and eggs is carried out to destroy bacteria and viruses, to increase the shelf life, reduce the risk of food poisoning.

In accordance with the state quality standard, mayonnaise products are divided into mayonnaises and mayonnaise sauces, depending on the fat content and the amount of egg yolk in its composition. Mayonnaise is a homogeneous emulsion product with a fat content of at least 50%, and mayonnaise sauce with a fat content of at least 15%.

Production Technology

How mayonnaise is made?

The technological process for obtaining mayonnaise is as follows:

  1. Sugar, mustard, and egg powder are loaded into special bunkers. 
  2. Mustard powder from its hopper is sent to a small mixer, where the mustard is brewed, mixed, then warm water and granulated sugar are supplied. 
  3. In a small mixer, products are dissolved and mixed. 
  4. Then add egg powder and the required amount of water. 
  5. The paste thus prepared is pumped into a large mixer. 
  6. It is supplied with vegetable oil, salt solution, and vinegar of a certain concentration. 
  7. The mixture obtained in the receiver is added to the large mixer. 
  8. In a large mixer, a mayonnaise emulsion is prepared, which enters the homogenizer and then into the tank for the finished mayonnaise. 
  9. Further, mayonnaise is poured into containers by automatic fillers. 
  10. The jars are filled quickly since even a short-term contact of the emulsion with air oxygen leads to oil oxidation, and this affects the taste and storage stability of mayonnaise. 
  11. Filled cans are fed to automatic capping machines, where they are hermetically sealed.

Mayonnaise Calories

mayonnaise substitute

Mayonnaise is very high-calorie and harmful? The opposite is usually olive oil. Something like: “Replace unhealthy mayonnaise with olive oil in a salad.” Ok, let’s compare them in terms of calories per serving:

  • 1 full tablespoon of olive oil (15 g) contains 15 g of fat and 133 kcal,
  • In 1 tbsp. of classic mayonnaise 72-74% (20 g) – 15 g of fat and 136 kcal. In “light” mayonnaise, where the percentage of fat is about 30-32%, there will be about 5-7 g of fat and 50-65 kcal per serving.

If we count per 100 g of the product, then in 100 g of olive oil – 884 kcal, and in 100 g of classic sauce- 670-680 kcal. That is, even fatty mayonnaise is significantly less caloric than olive oil. In “light” varieties of mayonnaise, there are even fewer calories per 100 g of product – about 320, but sometimes less. Checkmate, as they say.

Mayonnaise and Vitamins

What about micronutrients (vitamins/minerals)? There is some vitamin E and K in a serving of olive oil. That’s it.

A portion of it contains a little vitamin E, a lot of vitamin K, as well as some vitamins A, D, and group B (thanks to the yolk). Of the minerals – a little phosphorus, selenium, and even iron with zinc (again the yolk assists). Sodium spoils the picture a little, although there is much less sodium in a serving of the sauce than in other very good products. For example, in cheeses.


Ok, what is so “terrible” in mayo? In the classic recipe: vegetable oil, raw yolk, vinegar, salt, pepper. You can also add mustard and lemon juice.

Stabilizers, preservatives, and other ALLOWED additives can be added to store-bought mayo. There is no mercury, arsenic, cyanide, or other toxic substances in it.

Homemade vs. Store-Bought

Often there is a recommendation to make homemade mayo. It seems like everything is logical – you know exactly what you put in your sauce. But I will just defend store-bought mayonnaise because it is safer. Of course, from well-known brands, and not from “basement” manufacturers.

The argument is very simple. Brands for the production of mayo use pasteurized eggs, due to which bacteria are destroyed and the risk of poisoning is very small. And at home, you will make mayonnaise, this is the risk of running into Salmonella.

Thanks to homemade sauce (due to Salmonella in raw eggs), there have been tens of thousands of poisonings, some of them fatal. Of all egg-containing foods, homemade mayonnaise made with raw eggs has been identified as one of the main culprits in salmonellosis outbreaks.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the University of California School of Public Health do not recommend eating raw, undercooked eggs due to the possible presence of Salmonella.

Homemade mayo can only be made if pasteurized eggs are used. It is considered safe for this very reason. Some countries don’t sell these eggs. But in the US and Europe, pasteurized eggs are sold, which radically changes the situation with homemade mayonnaise.

Over to You

mayonnaise ingredients

I’m not saying that you need to overeat with mayo, but in general, stories about its dangers are fables from the crazy 90s. Mayonnaise itself is not poison or a harmful product, it even contains vitamins and minerals.

If you like the taste of this sauce and want to dress your salad with it, it’s better to buy store-bought and not worry about occasionally eating a tablespoon of this sauce.

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