Packaged foods are full of soybean oil, corn oil, cottonseed oil, safflower oil and sunflower oil. These oils are high in omega–6 fats, which compete with healthy omega–3 fats in the body. (Omega–3 fats benefit your heart and may also keep you happy.)
Most nutrition experts say that Americans get too many omega–6 fats in their diets, mostly from processed foods. In fact, it’s quite difficult to find commercial salad dressings, mayonnaise, even crackers, breads, pasta sauces and granola bars that don’t include oils with high levels of omega–6 fats.
We went to the market to find some products in these categories that didn’t contain soybean oil, corn oil, cottonseed oil, safflower oil or sunflower oils. Here’s a list of packaged foods you can feel good about eating when it comes to avoiding omega–6–rich oils:
This list is just a sampling/starting point. Choosing products that contain high–oleic versions of oils that are typically rich in omega–6 fats will also help you to cut back on omega–6 fats. These high–oleic oils are produced using plants that have been bred or engineered to have more monounsaturated fats and fewer omega–6s. Check the ingredients lists of your favorite brands—they too may be free of omega–6–rich oils.
In both the “regular” and “health food” sections of the market, we found that these brands of dressings didn’t contain any of the oils listed above.
Want to make your own? Click here for easy, healthy homemade salad dressing recipes.
It was fairly easy to find pasta sauces that omitted the omega–6–rich oils. Still, many brands include these oils in some flavors but not others, so make sure to read ingredient lists.
It was difficult to find traditional granola bars that did not contain omega–6–rich oils. Here are three that made the cut:
Tip: If you have trouble finding traditional granola bars that don’t contain omega–6–rich oils, try a fruit–and–nut bar, such as LÄRABAR.
Freshly baked breads in the bakery section are more likely to be free of omega–6–rich oils than commercially produced breads. We also found two nationally available brands that met our criteria:
Want to bake your own bread? Check out these healthy bread recipes you can easily make at home.
Most mayos contain one of the omega–6–rich oils we were trying to avoid—even those that say they are made with olive oil. We did, however, manage to find two made with canola oil as the only oil. (Read labels carefully as both brands listed here also sell varieties that include the omega–6 oils.)
Beware: Even crackers with packaging that suggests “wholesomeness” sometimes contain omega–6–rich oils. Here are three brands that don’t: