For full disclosure, I prefer mayo over mustard. Growing up, we were a mayo leaning household. Blame my parents.
Sitting having lunch today, as I reached for my favorite mayonnaise, my eye focuses on the bottom of the bottle, with somewhat of a surprising health claim: my favorite “real” mayonnaise actually will supply me with omega-3 fatty acids. Are these the same omega-3′s we are all looking to consume in fresh fish and nuts? Omega-3 fatty acids are the talk of the nutrition world, and seem to help us prevent or treat just about every ailment from halitosis (bad breath for the novice followers of our blog) to dementia. Wow. I always knew my parents were forward thinking for recommending mayo over yellow mustard. They had our health and well being on their mind decades earlier than most.
So with that said, and the apparent availability of omega-3′s in mayo, is that really a good thing? Here is my take on this nutritional dilemma:
1. It’s all about marketing: we are conditioned to react to statements that proclaim a health benefit. Do not be fooled. Michael Pollan states it very nicely in this quote: “…Only the big food manufacturers have the wherewithal to secure FDA-approved health claims for their products and then trumpet them to the world. Generally, it is the products of modern food science that make the boldest health claims, and these are often founded on incomplete and often bad science. ”
― Michael Pollan, Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual
2. I would suggest you get your omega 3-fatty acids in their natural source, not a manufactured product. Eat fish, nuts, and vegetables, not food in a squeeze bottle.
3. For a good understanding of omega-3′s, look at this review from the Harvard School of Public Health.
4. Lastly, with all of this hype and health claims, one may walk away with the notion that “eating mayonnaise may actually be good for me”. This of course is the wrong message and an unexpected consequence of all this-or maybe exactly what the marketing department at Hellman’s wants. From a nutrition stand point, 100% of the calories comes from fat. See the nutritional breakdown here. Mayo is basically egg fat and oil. A serving of mayo is equal to the fat found in 4 chocolate chip cookies. Hmmm.maybe not so healthful.
Having a thin smear of mayo every blue moon won’t kill you, or clog your arteries. The impression that mayo is a healthful food, and we should eat more, is a false claim. For fairness, the makers of Hellman’s Real Mayonnaise do not tell you to eat more of their mayo for the omega-3 benefit-they simply state the fact of what’s in their product. We are all conditioned from elsewhere that these are things we need in our diet. They are simply riding on the food and nutrition benefit wave of omega-3 fatty acids.
Tell me what you think.