Salad Dressings Are Killing You Softly

Unveiling the Truth About Seed Oils

Salad Dressings Are Killing You Softly

What gives salad dressings such a bad rap? Many people choose salads as “healthier options” when dining out. However, they don’t realize that what they’re eating is just as bad or worse as the other items on the menu. Unfortunately, most salad dressings at restaurants and stores in the US contain one or multiple types of seed oils.

What Are Seed Oils?

Seed oils are highly-processed, highly-refined oils from the “seeds” of plants.

What’s frustrating is that many of these oils are touted as “heart healthy.” Just the other day, I heard a commercial on the radio sponsored by the American Heart Association that was telling listeners to consume heart-healthy oils like canola and vegetable oil. Since the 1980s, animal-derived saturated fats such as butter and tallow have been demonized because there were claims early on that saturated fats contributed to heart disease. These claims couldn’t be further from the truth.

Exorbitant Omega-6 Fatty Acid Content

The first issue with seed oils is that they’re incredibly high in polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs). I bet you’ve been told that foods low in saturated fats and high in polyunsaturated fats are good for you, right? Yep. Me too.

However, it’s not really that simple. There are 2 types of polyunsaturated fats:

  • Omega-6 fatty acids

  • Omega-3 fatty acids

Most ancestral diets consisted of a 1:1 ratio of omega-6:omega-3. This is healthy. It’s not that we shouldn’t ever consume omega-6, it’s that we shouldn’t be upsetting this balance. Both of these fatty acids are essential for cell growth and brain function. We have to derive them from food because our bodies don’t create them.

The Standard American Diet (SAD) consists of an average consumption of these fatty acids in anywhere from a 12:1 to 25:1 ratio. This is significantly higher than the ideal 1:1 ratio. Omega-6 fatty acids cause inflammation in the body. Chronic inflammation has been shown to cause or trigger the following.

  • Heart disease

  • Arthritis

  • Depression

  • Alzheimer’s

  • Cancer

  • Autoimmune disorders

Yet, despite these scientific facts, oils like canola and vegetable are highly touted by many professional organizations as “healthy” alternatives to animal-derived fats. We’ll get into why animal-derived fats are healthy in another post!

Instability Under Heat

Polyunsaturated fats contained in seed oils are highly unstable and easily oxidize under heat. Oxidation occurs naturally in all oils over time due to factors like light or atmospheric exposure. However, oxidation is high in seed oils right out of the gate! Oxidation leads to rancidity and degradation of the quality of the oil.

Yet, these are the main ingredients in nearly all salad dressings and restaurants use these oils to cook and fry food. When these oils are heated, their toxicity skyrockets.


Seed oils aren’t found naturally in the environment. They must be extracted using chemicals like hexane and heat processes. Hexane causes negative central nervous system effects and has been shown to create neurotoxicity in rats. Furthermore, if that wasn’t enough, manufacturers use more chemicals to deodorize and change the color of these seed oils. Because oxidation makes oils rancid, they develop a foul odor during the extraction process.

Highly-processed foods like seed oils increase inflammation in the body which has been shown to increase the risk of cancer and heart disease.

Often Contain Trans Fat

Some of these seed oils have been known to contain trans fatty acids. Trans fat is considered one of the least healthy fats humans can consume. They are created by hydrogenating oils (packing the molecules tighter) so they’re solid at room temperature. Manufacturers implement the hydrogenation process because it makes the fat last longer and makes it less likely to spoil.

Most health professionals recommend that humans NEVER consume any amount of trans fat. They’ve been shown to increase your bad cholesterol (LDL) and decrease your good cholesterol (HDL).

What Are Some Dressing Alternatives?

Okay, so salad dressings are terrible for us, fair enough. But, now what? What are the alternatives? “I’m a busy mom or dad and I don’t have the luxury to be picky about what types of oils I’m consuming.” I get it! I’m going to tell you how to live this out practically in your day-to-day.

Whether you’re eating out or making a salad at home, you should opt for other healthier oils with a better omega-6:omega-3 ratio. Healthy alternative oils include the following.

  • Olive oil

  • Avocado oil

  • MCT oil

  • Macadamia nut oil

There are tons of recipes online to make these healthy oil-based salad dressings at home. I personally use olive oil and red wine vinegar on my salads. I’ll add more flavor to them with pink Himalayan salt and fresh cracked pepper.

When I eat out, I will ask the server if they can bring olive oil and vinegar to the table. When that isn’t an option, if the dressings are made in-house, I’ll ask what type of oil they use. If they’re in-house, there’s at least a chance that they used olive or avocado oil. When none of those is an option, I’ll either bite the bullet and use whatever dressing they have, or I’ll just flavor my salad with salt and pepper.

I’m honest and realistic. It’s nearly impossible and impractical in modern society to completely eliminate seed oils from your diet, especially when eating out. I get that our social lives are important and that sometimes we have to eat what’s convenient and available. I’m a father of 2 and I’ve been a keto dieter for over 3 years. My motivation is to provide helpful, practical tips for busy moms and dads who want to lead a healthier lifestyle.

The main takeaway is to eliminate the oils from our diets as much as we can and seek to bring our omega-6 to omega-3 intake close to that 1:1 ratio. Eating omega-3-rich foods like salmon keeps this balance, even when we’re consuming more omega-6 fatty acids. Life is about balance!

Disclaimer: I’m not a licensed doctor or medical professional. Always consult with your physician regarding your dietary choices.