5 “Health” Foods that Include One Ingredient Worse For You Than Sugar

If you’ve been paying attention to food news lately, you know that new research suggests that soybean oil is pretty damn sketchy. The problem, in a nutshell, is that this super common and super processed oil seems to be even more dangerous than sugar, potentially contributing to weight gain, fattier livers, and insulin resistance. Yikes, right? Researchers can’t say for sure why, but some studies link diets too low in omega-3 fatty acids and too high in omega-6s—abundant in processed vegetable oils like soybean and corn oil—to increased appetite, weight, and inflammation.

The problem for you: This oil is extremely common in packaged foods, so if you regularly eat things out of bags and boxes, you may be loading up unintentionally. Oh, and if you think you’re safe because you stick to the quality stuff, think again. It’s also abundant in a slew of packaged products marketed as “good for you”—just look at the five products below. Sure, not all brands contain soybean oil, but use these offenders as a reason to always read ingredient lists.

1) Balsamic vinaigrette

balsamic
 

You’d think a bottled balsamic vinaigrette would contain just olive oil, vinegar, and herbs, but with some very popular brands, soybean oil comes second to only water on the ingredient list. And that’s followed by sugar, preservatives, and fillers like xantham gum for texture. Way to overcomplicate something that should be simple, huh? Drizzling some olive oil and balsamic vinegar on your greens is a safer (and easier) bet.

2) Olive oil mayo

olive oil mayo
 

That’s right, some big (if not the biggest) mayo brands that sell “olive oil” mayo actually list soybean oil as the first ingredient after water. How does that even happen? Sure, olive oil’s there, too, but so are things like “modified potato starch,” added for texture, which isn’t even present in most regular mayos. Talk about an all-around misleading product.

 

3) Whole-wheat crackers

wheat crackers
 

Sure, crackers probably aren’t super high up there on your list of health foods, but when you buy them, you almost certainly choose the whole-wheat variety, right? That’s cool, but some popular brands list soybean oil as the third ingredient, after enriched and whole-wheat flour. That’s not even the worst part—subsequent ingredients can include sugar, partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil (a.k.a. trans fat!), and high fructose corn syrup. Seriously, read those labels.

4) Energy bars

energy bars
 

Sure, they seem like a quick and healthy option if you’re on the go, but most energy bars are simply a convenient way ingest a load of toxic shit you don’t need. One of the brands that’s been around the longest lists soybean oil after the flour and oats on the ingredient list, and that’s followed by multiple types of sugar, artificial colors, and preservatives that have been linked to cancer in animals. That said, there are still plenty of healthy options out there—stave off hunger with one of these seven energy bars made from real food.

 

5) Hummus

hummus
 

Like balsamic vinaigrette, hummus is another product you’d just assume contains olive oil given its Mediterranean roots, but not so much. One big brand lists soybean oil right after the chickpeas and tahini. Sigh.

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