Eating Mayonnaise during Pregnancy – Benefits and Risks

A bowl of mayonnaise

A major concern of mothers-to-be is what foods they can or cannot include in their diet to ensure their baby’s healthy growth and development. In this article, we talk about whether it is safe to eat mayonnaise during pregnancy, the nutritional value of mayonnaise, and the risks and benefits of consuming mayonnaise during pregnancy.

Can Pregnant Women Eat Mayonnaise?

Pregnant women could eat mayonnaise if it were made using pasteurised eggs. It is also safe to eat commercially made mayonnaise as it is made from pasteurised eggs. Mayonnaise is made of egg yolk, lemon juice or vinegar, and vegetable oil. Lecithin and protein present in the yolk act as emulsifiers and stabilise the mayonnaise, keeping all the ingredients blended.

The primary risk associated with eating raw eggs is a food-borne disease caused by Salmonella bacteria. The disease is called Salmonellosis and causes nausea, vomiting, fever, headache, diarrhoea and abdominal cramps. It also causes other serious complications like extreme dehydration, reactive arthritis, bacteria in the bloodstream, and meningitis. This disease can also be transferred to the fetus and cause severe developmental defects.

Types of Mayonnaise

There are several varieties of mayonnaise available, and you can decide which one you want to get based on the egg and fat content. Here are the different kinds of mayonnaise available in the market:

  • Full-fat Mayonnaise: This contains between 65%-75% fat.
  • Light Mayonnaise: This has a low-fat content of less than 30% and 3% egg. It may contain a thickening agent like corn starch.
  • Extra Mayonnaise: It contains about 4% egg and 10% fat.
  • Real Mayonnaise: This contains 6% egg and over 78% fat.

Nutritional Values of Mayonnaise

Whether you opt for homemade, fresh mayonnaise or a commercially made product, it is important to know the nutritional content and ingredients to make sure it is healthy for you and your baby. Here is the nutritional content of mayonnaise:

  • Mayonnaise is very high in calories. It contains 700 kilocalories per 100 grams or 94 kilocalories per tablespoon.
  • Mayonnaise is also very high in fat content. One tablespoon of mayonnaise contains 5mg of cholesterol.
  • One tablespoon of mayonnaise can contain up to 125mg of sodium. The recommended daily salt intake should not exceed 2300mg.
  • Mayonnaise also contains proteins and vitamins A, D, E, K, B6, and B12.

Benefits of Eating Mayonnaise during Pregnancy

The benefits of eating mayonnaise when pregnant are:

  1. Good Source of Vitamin E: One tablespoon of mayonnaise contains 1.77mg of vitamin E. Vitamin E is very good for skin and hair. It also lowers the risk of miscarriages and respiratory problems and helps in maintaining blood sugar levels.
  1. Good Source Of Vitamin K: One tablespoon of mayonnaise has 24 micrograms of vitamin K. Vitamin K is very important for the healthy development of the baby. It also helps in clotting of blood. Thus, it is essential during labour and childbirth.
  1. Good source of Vitamin A, B6, B12 and D: A 100 grams of egg yolk in mayonnaise contains 28% vitamin A, 54% vitamin D, 20% vitamin B6, and 33% vitamin B12 of the percentage daily value recommended for our consumption.

Can Mayonnaise be Harmful during Pregnancy?

Although mayonnaise contains several vitamins and minerals, excessive consumption can cause harm to you and your baby. Some of the effects of excessive mayonnaise consumption are:

  • High-Calorie Content: Pregnant women need to consume about 300 calories per day. As mayonnaise is very high in calories, having mayonnaise with other foods can lead to over-consumption of calories, resulting in excess weight gain.
  • High Sodium: Mayonnaise is very high in salt content. One cup of mayonnaise contains nearly 50% of the daily recommended intake of sodium. High sodium can cause dangerous increases in blood pressure which is dangerous for both the baby and the mother-to-be.
  • High Sugar Levels: Mayonnaise is also high in sugar content. High sugar can cause gestational diabetes in pregnant women.
  • High Fat: Mayonnaise has a high amount of fat. Studies have shown that high amounts of fat consumed by the mother-to-be can harm the baby’s immune system. Studies have also shown that babies born to mothers who consume large amounts of fat will have obesity issues later in their life.
  • Artificial Preservatives: Commercially made mayonnaise contains chemicals and additives to preserve it and keep it from spoiling. These chemicals may not be safe for the growing baby. The chemicals may also cause side effects such as fatigue, nausea and allergies in pregnant women.

Tips for Selecting the Right Mayonnaise

Here are some tips for selecting the right mayonnaise:

  • Read The Manufacturing Details: Read the manufacturing details carefully to know how the mayonnaise was prepared. Make sure it was made hygienically.
  • Check The Label: Read the label to ensure that the product does not contain raw eggs.
  • Choose One Made From Pasteurized Eggs: Always buy mayonnaise that has been prepared using pasteurised eggs.
  • Do Not Buy Homemade or Conventional Brands: Do not buy homemade or conventional brands of mayonnaise, as they will most likely contain raw eggs.
  • Ask Farm Shops and Restaurants If the Eggs Are Raw: Ask farm shops and restaurant owners if their mayonnaise contains raw eggs before buying.

Healthier Alternatives to Mayonnaise

In case you are concerned about the high fat and sodium content and worried about getting salmonellosis, you can try these healthier alternatives to mayonnaise:

  • Commercially sold eggless mayonnaise
  • Tofu mayonnaise
  • Yoghurt
  • Mustard sauce
  • Low-fat sour cream
  • Spread made of almond or cashew paste

How can you Prepare Homemade Mayonnaise?

A woman preparing mayonnaise in the kitchen

You can eat freshly prepared homemade mayonnaise if you prepare it yourself using pasteurised eggs:

  • Take two pasteurised eggs. Separate the yolks into a bowl.
  • Add half a teaspoon of mustard and 1/4th teaspoon salt. Whisk this to combine well.
  • Whisk in 1 teaspoon vinegar and 1.5 teaspoons of lemon juice.
  • Slowly drizzle a 3/4th cup of olive oil in a thin stream while continuously whisking the mixture until well blended.
  • If it appears like the oil is not blending, stop adding oil. Whisk the mixture until smooth and continue adding oil until all the oil has blended. Add 1/4th teaspoon white pepper and adjust the taste of the salt.
  • Chill this in the fridge until ready to use.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Are Commercial Mayonnaise Safe?

Commercial mayonnaise is made from pasteurized and is free from bacteria that cause food-borne illnesses. It is better to be safe by consuming only pasteurized mayonnaise in pregnancy.

2. Can I Eat Hollandaise and Bearnaise Sauces in Pregnancy?

Hollandaise and Bearnaise sauces are made by mixing egg and clarified butter on low heat. The heating can get rid of some of the bacteria, but not all. These sauces can be eaten if they are made using pasteurized eggs and are not homemade.

3. Can I Eat Expired Mayonnaise During Pregnancy?

If you are wondering, is mayonnaise safe during pregnancy; the answer is yes if prepared with pasteurized eggs. Usually, expired mayonnaise can still be eaten 3-4 months after the best-before date. However, pregnancy is not the time to take unnecessary risks by eating spoilt or expired foods. This can make you very ill and affect your baby. So, it is better to avoid expired mayonnaise during pregnancy.

You do not have to avoid mayonnaise completely during pregnancy. Small amounts of mayonnaise will not harm the baby. You only need to keep in mind that you have to avoid homemade mayonnaise made from raw eggs during pregnancy to prevent food-borne diseases.