Why is egg salad not healthy?

Egg salad is a popular sandwich filling and snack made primarily from chopped hard-boiled eggs, mayonnaise, and other ingredients like mustard, salt, pepper, celery, onion, and relish. At first glance, egg salad appears to be a nutritious choice – eggs are a great source of protein, after all. However, the high amounts of mayonnaise typically used in egg salad make it a high fat, high calorie, and ultimately unhealthy choice. Keep reading to learn why you should think twice before making or ordering egg salad.

What are the main ingredients in egg salad?

The primary ingredients in basic egg salad are:

– Hard boiled eggs – Hard boiled eggs provide protein, vitamins, and minerals like vitamin D, selenium, and iodine. However, eggs also contain dietary cholesterol.

– Mayonnaise – Mayonnaise is an emulsion of oil, egg yolk, and vinegar or lemon juice. It contributes a creamy texture and flavor, but is very high in fat and calories.

– Mustard – Mustard adds flavor and some nutrients like vitamin C and vitamin B6. However, mustard contains sodium.

– Salt and pepper – Salt provides flavor, but contributes sodium. Pepper adds spiciness without calories or sodium.

Additional ingredients can include celery for crunch, onion for flavor, relish for tanginess, herbs for freshness, and spices like paprika for color. Overall, the core ingredients in egg salad center around hard boiled eggs and mayonnaise or another creamy fat like salad dressing or sour cream.

Why is mayonnaise unhealthy?

Mayonnaise is the primary ingredient that makes egg salad unhealthy. Here’s why:

– High in fat and calories – Just one tablespoon of mayonnaise contains 94 calories and 10 grams of fat. The majority is heart-unhealthy saturated fat. Using multiple tablespoons to make egg salad adds a significant amount of fat and calories.

– Lack of nutrients – Despite being high in calories, mayonnaise provides minimal nutrition. There are trace amounts of vitamins like Vitamin E, but no fiber, protein, vitamins, or minerals.

– Blood sugar spikes – While low carb, the combination of fat and egg yolks in mayo can spike blood sugar. These blood sugar crashes can lead to hunger and overeating.

– Inflammation – Vegetable oils used to make mayo are high in inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids. Inflammation is linked to various chronic diseases.

– Lack of protein and fiber – Without protein and fiber to balance out the fat, egg salad made with mayo is poorly balanced nutritionally. This combination encourages overeating.

So in summary, generous amounts of mayonnaise turn what could be a protein-rich, nutritious egg salad into an unhealthy fatty, calorie-dense food.

How much mayonnaise is in egg salad?

There is no single set recipe, but most egg salad recipes call for at least:

– 1/4 cup mayonnaise per 3-4 eggs
– 1-3 tablespoons mayonnaise per egg
– 2 parts mayo to 1 part eggs

This means that for 6-egg egg salad, you would use likely use between 1/2 cup and 1 cup of mayonnaise total.

Obviously, more mayo means more fat, calories, and unhealthy effects. Even in moderation, mayo still tips egg salad into unhealthy territory nutrition-wise.

How many calories are in typical egg salad?

The calorie count in egg salad depends on the exact ingredients and amounts used. But according to the USDA, 1 cup of chicken/egg salad contains:

– 536 calories
– 49g total fat
– 14g saturated fat
– 376mg cholesterol

That’s over a quarter of the calories and nearly all the fat you should consume in a day coming from just one cup.

A general range of calories per serving of egg salad is:

– 1/2 cup egg salad: ~250-400 calories
– 1/4 cup egg salad: ~130-200 calories
– 2 tbsp egg salad: ~100 calories

Even just 2 tablespoons still provide around 100 calories, mostly from mayonnaise. Those calories add up fast in just a sandwich or snack.

Is egg salad high in cholesterol?

Egg yolks are one of the richest dietary sources of cholesterol. Just one large hard boiled egg contains 186 mg cholesterol.

The American Heart Association recommends limiting cholesterol to 300 mg per day. So with just 2-3 egg yolks, egg salad can deliver more than half your daily recommended cholesterol in one serving.

High cholesterol levels are a risk factor for heart disease. So for optimal heart health, most people should limit cholesterol from foods like egg yolks whenever possible.

Does egg salad have any nutritional benefits?

Egg salad made primarily with mayonnaise is lacking in nutrients compared to eggs on their own. However, eggs do still provide protein and certain micronutrients:

– Protein: 6 grams protein per egg
– Vitamin D: 6% DV per egg
– Vitamin B12: 9% DV per egg
– Selenium: 22% DV per egg
– Iodine: 15% DV per egg

The protein and micronutrients are beneficial, but negligible compared to the high amounts of fat, sodium, and cholesterol also found in egg salad.

Given all the negatives, the nutritional positives of egg salad are outweighed. There are healthier ways to get these nutrients without all the mayo.

Is egg salad keto or low carb?

Egg salad is lower in carbs than sandwiches made with bread or rolls. Without added fillers and sugars, most of the carbs come from:

– Onions: 9 grams net carbs per cup
– Celery: 3 grams net carbs per stalk
– Relish: 4 grams net carbs per tablespoon

A typical serving of egg salad likely has 5-15 grams of net carbs. So while not completely carb-free, it can fit into a low carb or keto diet when eaten in moderation.

However, even for low carb diets, egg salad made with mayo is not optimal due to the high fat and cholesterol content. There are better protein sources and ways to limit carbs.

What are good egg salad substitutes?

To make a healthier alternative, consider using the following swaps:

– Instead of mayo, use plain Greek yogurt or avocado for creaminess.
– Mix in chopped veggies like celery, bell pepper, or carrot for added nutrition.
– Add fresh herbs like dill, parsley, chives, or tarragon.
– Use hummus, tahini, or mustard for moisture and flavor.
– Replace half the mayo with cottage cheese or ricotta cheese.
– Use hard boiled egg whites only instead of whole eggs to cut cholesterol.

With creative substitutions, you can achieve a similar egg salad texture and flavor while boosting nutrition compared to mayonnaise-based versions.

What are other high protein, low carb sandwich ideas?

Here are some healthier high protein, lower carb sandwich alternatives to try instead of egg salad:

Tuna salad sandwiches

Use water-packed tuna and Greek yogurt instead of mayo. Add celery, onion, mustard, lemon juice, and dill.

Chicken salad sandwiches

Use Greek yogurt or avocado to bind chopped chicken, celery, onion, grapes, and nuts or seeds.

Roast beef lettuce wraps

Fill lettuce leaves with slices of lean roast beef, sautéed onions, horseradish, and mustard.

BLT lettuce wraps

Wrap crispy bacon, lettuce, tomato, and avocado in lettuce leaves with a bit of mayo.

Steak fajita lettuce wraps

Fill lettuce cups with sautéed steak, peppers, onions, guacamole, and salsa.

Italian subs

Load deli meat, cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, banana peppers, oil, and vinegar onto a sub roll.

Veggie subs

Pack sub rolls with grilled vegetables like zucchini, eggplant, mushrooms, and roasted peppers.

Should I avoid ordering egg salad when eating out?

Yes, it’s best to avoid egg salad when eating out for several reasons:

– Restaurants typically use even more mayonnaise than you would at home to make egg salad. Some egg salads are almost 50% mayo.

– Menu descriptions rarely provide nutrition facts or a full list of ingredients. You don’t know exactly what you’re getting.

– Added sugars may be mixed in to balance the flavor. This adds empty carbs and calories.

– Sandwiches include cheese and carb-heavy bread, driving up calories even more.

– Side dishes that come with meals, like fries, also make the total meal less healthy.

Your best bet is building your own salad or sandwich with grilled chicken, fish, or lean meat to get protein without excess mayo and carbs. Or look for low fat main dishes with vegetables.

Is homemade egg salad healthier?

You can make somewhat healthier egg salad at home by:

– Reducing mayo amount or using a healthier substitute
– Avoiding egg yolk to reduce cholesterol
– Adding more vegetables like celery, onion, bell pepper
– Using mustard, herbs, and spices instead of extra mayo for flavor
– Serving as a lettuce wrap instead of bread to reduce carbs
– Pairing just 1-2 tbsp egg salad with vegetables as a snack

However, homemade egg salad is still high in cholesterol, sodium, and calories compared to most other protein sources. Portion control remains key. Other protein-packed snacks are still healthier.


While egg salad appears to be a good source of protein, the typically high amounts of mayonnaise transform it into an unbalanced, unhealthy food. The mayo contributes excessive calories, fat, sodium, and cholesterol compared to the modest amounts of protein and micronutrients provided by the eggs and vegetables.

You’re better off getting those nutrients from unprocessed whole foods like eggs or tuna on their own paired with vegetables. Or explore healthier substitutions and replacements to classic mayo-laden egg salad if you still want a similar flavor and texture. Think critically about any dish that uses mayonnaise or other calorie-dense sauces as the primary ingredient. In most cases, lighter, vegetable-focused options are the better choice for your health.

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