It all started with eggs and olive oil. Mayonnaise mania began more than 250
years ago when a French chef, who was whipping up a celebratory sauce, ran out
of cream and thought to add olive oil to his eggs instead. This popular
European sauce broke onto the American culinary scene in 1905 after Richard
Hellmann, a German immigrant, opened a delicatessen in New York. Mrs.
Hellmann’s homemade mayonnaise was featured in salads and sold as a
Today, Americans are passionate about mayonnaise. Which brand reigns supreme
depends on where in the United States you reside. Hellmann's is the one to beat
on the east coast, and the same brand, sold under the name Best Foods, is king
on the west coast. Duke’s, meanwhile, has much of the South sewn up.
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But our love for mayo comes at a price, as it's loaded with calories and
fat. Spreading just one tablespoon of mayonnaise on your sandwich adds nearly
100 calories and 11 grams of fat to your lunch – and let's face it, many of us
don't stop at a tablespoon.
Enter "light," reduced-fat, fat-free and olive oil mayos, which generally
have half (or less) the number of calories and fat grams. Most of the major
mayonnaise brands offer a lower-fat, lower-calorie variety. Among the latest
entries in this category are mayos made with olive oil. (But don't get the idea
that these are made exclusively with olive oil; other oils, such as
soybean, are usually among the ingredients.)
So just how do you make a condiment based on oil and eggs "light"? Although
the two main ingredients in regular mayonnaise are oil and eggs or egg yolks,
in light mayonnaise, water is generally the main ingredient (followed by oil,
eggs, and modified food starch). With fat-free mayonnaise, it's usually water,
sugar, and modified food starch.
Most of the light mayonnaise options we tried had about 45 calories per
tablespoon, with about 100 milligrams of sodium, 5 milligrams or less of
cholesterol (except Duke’s Light, with 10 milligrams), and 4-5 grams of fat per
tablespoon (although Miracle Whip Light has 1.5 grams). Most brands had no
saturated fat; the amounts of polyunsaturated fat and monounsaturated fat
varied from brand to brand. Best Foods Olive Oil and Duke’s Light had more
polyunsaturated fat and Best Foods Canola, Kraft Olive Oil, and Smart Balance
had more monounsaturated fat.
As far as taste, the light mayonnaise varieties tend to mirror their
full-fat counterparts. If you're a Miracle Whip lover, you'll likely prefer
Miracle Whip’s Light. If you're a fan of Best Foods mayonnaise, try one of Best
Foods/Hellmann's lighter options (my money is on the Olive Oil Mayonnaise
Dressing). If you were raised on Dukes’ zesty mayonnaise, Duke’s Light will
likely be a winner for you.