Mayonnaise labels are scary. Have you looked at them lately? Most read like chemistry textbooks with goodies like modified corn starch and maltodextrin and calcium disodium EDTA. Most are made with genetically-modified soybean and canola oils. Most contain corn syrup.
So, let’s imagine that you’re a conscientious shopper and you want a better mayonnaise. You may have bought this week’s product: Spectrum Organic Olive Oil Mayonnaise.
Spectrum is a reputable brand. Organic certification means the oil is not made from genetically-modified crops. And olive oil = heart healthy. What’s not to love?
Here’s what the manufacturer claims:
“Smooth, creamy mayonnaise seamlessly blended with the nutty, savory richness of Extra Virgin Arbequina Olive Oil from Spain. Live it up with a spoonful on grilled artichokes or the fresh catch of the day. This exciting new product takes full advantage of Spectrum’s many years of experience of bringing to market the finest Olive Oils the world has to offer. GLUTEN FREE. No hydrogenated fat or preservatives used.”
Spectrum Organic Olive Oil Mayonnaise: Ingredients
- Organic expeller pressed soy and/or canola oil,
- organic whole eggs,
- organic egg yolks,
- organic extra virgin olive oil,
- filtered water,
- organic honey,
- organic distilled vinegar,
- sea salt,
- organic mustard (organic distilled vinegar, water, organic mustard seed, salt, organic spices),
- organic lemon juice concentrate.
Spectrum Organic Olive Oil Mayonnaise: DECODED
Here’s something everyone should know about labels. Ingredients are listed from most to least. It’s the law. So, ingredients at the top of the list make up the majority of the product. Ingredients at the bottom tend to be spices, preservatives, colors, etc. because they are used in the smallest quantities.
Check out what’s at the top of this — ahem — “Olive Oil” Mayonnaise: organic expeller pressed soy and/or canola oil. Before we dive into why those are two nasty oils (even in their “organic” form), let me just say that this is true of every major label olive oil mayo that I’ve ever seen. Whether it’s Kraft Olive Oil Mayonnaise or Hellman’s, the front brands them as an olive oil mayonnaise but the back shows that really, they’re just soybean oil.
Next to olive oil, the cooking oil marketed as the most “heart-healthy” out there is canola oil. But what is it? Canola oil is a newly created oil, invented in the 1970s as a low euric-acid version of the otherwise not-really-edible rapeseed oil. In 1998, through the marvels of genetic-engineering, the now ubiquitous variety of rapeseed (which makes up roughly 87% of all rapeseed grown in the U.S. and Canada) was created. So, it’s safe to say that all non-organic varieties of canola oil come from these genetically-modified plants.
But what about organic canola oil? This comes from a naturally selected, low euric acid rapeseed plants. But despite being GMO-free, the oil itself is still unhealthy. That’s partly because Canola oil is between 28-35% polyunsaturated fats. In traditional food cultures, polyunsaturated fat intake made up less than 4% of the total fat intake. We ought to do likewise.
And, according to Mary Enig, PhD (author of Know Your Fats : The Complete Primer for Understanding the Nutrition of Fats, Oils and Cholesterol), “Although the Canadian government lists the trans fat content of canola at a minimal 0.2 percent, research at the University of Florida at Gainesville, found trans fat levels as high as 4.6 percent in commercial liquid canola oil” (source).
How did those trans fats get in there? Because of how this oil has to be made. You see, prior to the industrial revolution, making seed-based cooking oils was far too labor intensive and (in many cases) downright impossible. All the ancient cooking oils (like coconut oil, palm oil, olive oil, etc.) are easily pressed out of the plant without needing extremely high-pressure or high-temperature extraction.
After the industrial revolution, we had the technology necessary to create modern seed-based cooking oils. So, we did.
But the process of making and refining these oils translates into one thing: rancid polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs). PUFAs don’t hold up well to heat or pressure. The same is true for both organic canola and organic soy oil. Soybean oil is roughly 58% polyunsaturated fatty acids — nearly twice that of canola! So, in the process of being extracted from the seed, these oils oxidize and many of them plasticize (turn into trans fats). The end result is stinky and unappetizing, so the oil is further “cleaned” using bleach or alternative chemicals to deodorize it.
And we call this heart healthy?
The semi-magical term expeller pressed simply means that the oil wasn’t extracted with a heated chemical solvent like hexane. Rather, the soybeans and rapeseeds were heated, then put under extreme pressure to release the oil.
Every other ingredient on this label gets a green light from me. I could be nit-picky and say that organic whole eggs don’t mean that the eggs are pasture raised, or that organic honey isn’t necessarily raw. But honestly, what do you expect in a mass-produced food? You can’t let the ideal be the enemy of the good.
Spectrum Organic Olive Oil Mayonnaise: THE VERDICT
So, what should you use instead?
Of course your first option should be to make your own homemade mayonnaise. That way, you can ensure that the eggs come from pastured hens, the oils are as raw and unrefined as you desire, etc. You can even mildly ferment the mayonnaise to inject your condiment with a healthy dose of probiotic cultures and living enzymes.
To my knowledge, it’s the only soy- and canola- free mayonnaise available on the market. It’s also the only mayonnaise made entirely with healthy, traditional oils.
And it tastes positively divine. I tried this oil at this year’s Wise Traditions Conference and was so blown away that I bought an entire case of it!
It’s the Wilderness Family Naturals Organic Mayonnaise.
Want Your Labels Decoded?
In this series on Decoding Labels, I’m highlighting deceptive labeling practices, hidden ingredients, and more! If you’ve got a particular label pet-peeve you’d like me to share, please feel free to email me with your idea. It may just turn into a blog post!