Why You Should Think Twice Before Eating Egg Salad

Most of the time, egg salad is pretty much the also-ran of mayonnaise-based salads. It's not quite a side dish, like potato salad or pasta salad, but it's also not nearly so satisfying a sandwich filling as are the meatier chicken and tuna salads. Egg salad isn't even the most exciting thing to do with hard-boiled eggs, although, admittedly, it does give you something to do with any eggs that come out too messed-up to make deviled ones.

If there's one time of year when egg salad really comes into its own, though, that's in the week or so immediately following Easter. Anyone who's ever gone overboard on the egg-dying and found themselves in need of a quick and easy (yet not wasteful) way to dispose of the brightly colored bounty sooner or later figures, what the heck, might as well just mash 'em up and add some mayo. Well, you may want to reconsider this decision. Nutritionist Serena Poon, celebrity chef and founder and CEO of wellness website Serena Loves and superfood supplement line Just Add Water, warns that egg salad may have more nutritional drawbacks than benefits.

What goes into egg salad

Egg salad ingredients may vary from recipe to recipe, but the basic dish consists of hard-boiled eggs (hence the name), some type of seasoning, and lots of mayonnaise, something that Poon points out can be "made of mostly oil." Based on a single serving of egg salad consisting of two chopped eggs and two tablespoons of mayonnaise (one fourth of a recipe made with eight eggs and half a cup of mayo), you'd be ingesting 540 calories. (Then there's the question of the bread if you make it a sandwich, but we won't go there.)

The fat content of both main ingredients is on the high side, too, with the result that this same single serving of egg salad would likely contain about 30 grams of fat, though just six of these are saturated. Cholesterol is also on the high side: 380 mg. It is to be noted, though, that just 10 mg of this would come from the mayonnaise (via Hellman's). Dietary cholesterol is not the same thing as blood cholesterol, though, and medical research indicates that the cholesterol found in egg yolks does not pose a significant health risk and can, in fact, raise levels of "good" cholesterol.

What's problematic about egg salad

Poon says that one of the biggest problems with egg salad is its fat content. She points out that if you're eating 2,000 calories a day, you should aim for somewhere between 44 and 77 grams of fat, so that egg salad serving would comprise a significant portion of this and require you to exercise caution for the rest of the day. She also warns of the dangers of excess saturated fat consumption, saying, "Eating too much saturated fat raises cholesterol and can lead to cardiovascular conditions." The Cleveland Clinic says that a 2,000-calorie diet shouldn't exceed about 22 saturated fat grams per day, so, luckily, this egg salad would put you only a little over a quarter of the way there. Still, it's something you should keep in mind.

Yet another area of concern for Poon is the highly processed oils found in many brands of mayonnaise. She says soybean oil, the type found in Hellman's, is particularly high in omega-6 fatty acids and cautions that "eating too many omega-6 fatty acids contributes to inflammation, which is a precursor for most diseases."

How to make a healthier egg salad

If you'd like to make a healthier egg salad, Poon says it's possible. She suggests using organic, pasture-raised, cage-free eggs — although these won't be lower in fat or calories than regular supermarket eggs, Healthline says they do contain added nutrients. You can, however, make a healthier ingredient swap by substituting plain yogurt for the mayonnaise (Greek, if your budget allows). You can also look for a brand of mayonnaise made with olive oil or avocado oil, as both of these are better for you than soybean oil. You could even make egg salad using a homemade olive oil vinaigrette for a completely mayonnaise-free version.

One other thing you can do to build a better egg salad is to add in some healthy stuff. Poon, always a proponent of making your own foods at home in order to boost their nutrition, says "the more herbs and vegetables you include, the better." Want some ideas? You could always add avocados for a double dose of healthy fats, or add some celery like Martha Stewart does. You could also take a tip from super-chef Emeril Lagasse. The (honorary) ragin' Cajun adds celery to his egg salad as well, plus shallots and parsley or green onions, but he brings on the BAM! with dry mustard and Hungarian paprika.