When it comes to sandwich spreads and salad dressings, mayonnaise isn't your best bet. High in fat, calories and sodium, mayonnaise doesn't do much more than add flavor to your food, though it has a few redeeming qualities. That doesn't mean that you can't ever enjoy a sandwich with mayonnaise or a salad with mayonnaise-based dressing, but it does pay to think about the nutritional drawbacks. That way, you can make compensations elsewhere in your diet when you do decide to splurge.
One tablespoon of mayonnaise contains 10.33 grams of fat, of which 1.62 grams are saturated. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, you should limit your intake of saturated fat to 10 percent or less of your total caloric intake. A tablespoon of mayonnaise has 94 calories, of which 15 calories are from saturated fat. If you eat a 2,000-calorie diet, that translates to about 7.5 percent of your daily limit. If you follow a 1,500-calorie diet, it's 10 percent of your daily limit. Before you throw your hands up in despair, keep in mind that mayonnaise also contains unsaturated fats, which are an essential part of a healthy diet. Unsaturated fats help lower your cholesterol and can reduce inflammation, too. A tablespoon of mayonnaise has 8.4 grams of unsaturated fats, which helps redeem it's nutritional value somewhat despite the saturated fat content.
Food manufacturers add sodium to mayonnaise to improve the taste and make it more shelf-stable. Sodium in small amounts is necessary for human survival, but if you're like most women, you eat far more than you actually need. A tablespoon of mayonnaise contains 88 milligrams of sodium, which is about 4 percent of the recommended 2,300-milligram daily limit. If you already have heart problems, which is possible even in young women, it's 6 percent of the 1,500 milligrams of sodium you should limit yourself to each day. Sticking to these limits help reduce your risk of heart disease, kidney disease and stroke, according to MayoClinic.com.
What You Do Get
While you can't count on mayonnaise to supply a wealth of key nutrients, you do get a few vitamins and minerals from a serving. A 1-tablespoon portion of mayonnaise contains an impressive 22.5 micrograms of vitamin K, a nutrient that is crucial for normal blood clotting. That's one-quarter of the 90 micrograms moms need each day. You get a small amount of vitamin E and trace amounts of calcium and potassium in the same serving of mayonnaise.
Tips and Considerations
When you do have mayonnaise, go easy. The nutritional values are for 1 tablespoon, which isn't that much. If you use more than that, you'll be consuming more saturated fat and sodium than you might think. Even better, opt for reduced-fat mayonnaise. A 1-tablespoon serving of light mayonnaise contains just 3.3 grams of fat, of which less than 1 gram is saturated. The tradeoff is more sodium, however, with 112 milligrams per tablespoon. Try eliminating mayonnaise all together and replacing it with plain low-fat Greek yogurt. Once it's mixed with other ingredients, you won't notice the taste difference as much, but you will get more protein, calcium and phosphorus compared to the mayo.