Best for Keto: Miracle Whip or Mayo?

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This article will focus on comparing two much beloved condiments against each other with the objective of finding the one most suitable on a keto-compliant diet.

Our guests starring on this show are mayo vs. Miracle Whip; so get yourself cozy on an armchair and dip right in.

 

Miracle Whip

In 1933, American manufacturer Kraft Heinz rolled out Miracle Whip, a creamy condiment or salad dressing intended to be a cheaper alternative to mayonnaise. Back then, the ingredients required to make mayonnaise were expensive, so a cheaper alternative was sought and hence a new product was born.

In terms of taste and texture, Miracle Whip is sweeter than it’s creamy cousin due to added sweeteners. It is also spicier. It is similar to mayo in texture (thick and creamy) yet less greasy.

If you look at the ingredients you can see it contains vegetable oil and eggs, just like mayo, so what makes it different? The simple answer is that legal criteria has it that mayonnaise must contain a minimum of 65% vegetable oil, while the other product does not. This is deliberate, of course.

 

Mayonnaise

Mayo needs no introduction. Call it a sauce, a condiment, or  a salad dressing, you’ll be hard pressed to find a home without a bottle or jar of it in the fridge. It is used ubiquitously in a variety of foods such as sandwiches, salads of all kinds, and in cooking.

But what exactly is it? In the simplest of terms, it is an emulsion of raw egg yolks coupled with vegetable oil. Those are the base ingredients that form the vast majority of the mayonnaise mass.

It comes in different forms, with some touted as low-fat and diet varieties as they have less oil. You can even get egg- free mayonnaise. It is creamy with a slightly tangy taste, ranging in color from yellow to cream-white.

 

Miracle Whip vs. mayo nutritional difference

Nutrition factors
(per 15 g serving, about 1 tablespoon)
Miracle Whip Mayonnaise 
Energy 40 kcal 102 kcal
Fat 3.5 g 11.2 g
Protein 0 g 0.1 g
Net carbs 2 g 0.1 g
Total carbs 2 g 0.1 g
Fiber 0 g 0 g

 

It was difficult to garner nutritional information for Miracle Whip as there is no average on the database for this product. However, as it is a branded product, instead we looked directly at the food labels on the original product, not any diet or low-cal varieties. This is the information you see in the table.

It is clear that mayonnaise is higher in fat and thus more calorific. We can also see that the sweeteners added to the Miracle Whip do bump up the net carbs to 2 g per serving, not too bad if having one serving per day, say with your lunch. However, mayonnaise has practically zero carbs per serving and would be a better choice for keto in that regard.

 

Is there any difference between mayo and Miracle Whip?

  • Price and availability - Both products are readily available everywhere in the US with mayo distributed globally. Miracle Whip is available in the USA and in Germany, with German outlets such as Aldi selling it in countries such as the UK as well. In terms of price, the branded product used to be cheaper, but price has crept up and currently the price tag seems to be toe to toe with its creamy cousin.
  • Taste and texture -  While mayonnaise is simply creamy, greasy, and perhaps slightly tangy, the branded spread is sweet and a little spicy and not quite as greasy. It is also a cooked product, whereas mayo is not.
  • Ingredients - While mayo is basically just oil and egg yolk with some added salt and vinegar, the ingredient list in Miracle Whip is considerably longer, including sweeteners such as fructose syrup, spices, and flavorings. Of course, the exact recipe is known only to those privileged chefs at Kraft Heinz.
  • Health - In terms of health, let’s analyze this. With regards to sodium and hence salt, they both share the same value at around 95 mg of sodium per serving, which computes to 0.24 g of salt. This is marginal and acceptable.

In terms of the fatty acids therein, as mayo has more fat it also contains a higher proportion of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA’s), the fats that are thought to be beneficial for you and that must be consumed in your diet. Mayo contains 6 g per serving, compared to just 2 g in the branded whip.

However, it is important to bear in mind that consumption of vegetable oils in general is a matter of debate. We know that PUFAs are highly susceptible to oxidative damage, which can in turn be damaging to our health.

Factors that promote this kind of damage are exposure to light and high heat. Vegetable oils are often manufactured using high heat extraction methods and then packaged in transparent plastic bottles. This increases their risk for oxidation, and hence it is always better to source cold pressed and dark bottled oils where possible. These will be more expensive, but you may decide that it’s worth it now that you are aware of the scientific dialogue surrounding the consumption of veggie oils.

So, while mayonnaise has more PUFAs, it also carries an increased risk of oxidized molecules. Mayo also contains egg yolk, itself a rich source of nutrients. On the other hand, Miracle Whip does contain sugar, which mayo does not. It also contains other ingredients which we may not be aware of, and thus we are unable to determine its true contribution to health.

 

When to use these condiments?

Both these condiments have very similar if not identical uses. Here are just a few uses:

  • As a spread in a sandwich
  • Mixed into tuna or mashed egg
  • As a sauce or marinade for roast veggies
  • Salad dressings

It is important to know that each product has its ardent following as these products do have their distinct tastes. This means that while their functionality and properties may be similar, you cannot assume they are interchangeable due to the taste difference.

 

Which is better for keto, mayo or Miracle Whip?

After all’s been said, our conclusion is that mayo is the slightly better choice. For one, mayonnaise has fewer carbs than Miracle Whip. It also contains egg yolk, which is a rich source of nutrients, and it is less processed due to far fewer ingredients.

However, do not be overly generous with the amount of mayonnaise you eat to avoid excessive vegetable oil intake. This can be a risk for oxidative damage, thus this food is best eaten in moderation.

 

Final thoughts

In keto or other diet interventions, we are often faced with two or more choices for a food. It is important to make the smart choice as even if the differences are marginal, over a whole day or week, these little decisions can conglomerate into meaningful differences in achieving our goals.

In this case, while we respect that there are fierce adherents to both products; it does seem from a ketogenic point of view that mayo is a better choice than Miracle Whip.

Do remember to try and get a variety with as little sodium as possible.