If the performance of the S&P/ASX 200 (Index: ^AXJO) (ASX: XJO) today is anything to go by, the lead up to the US Federal Reserve’s interest rate decision could prove to be incredibly volatile.

Whilst no share is immune to a broad market crash, I’ve picked out three defensive shares which I feel may help investors avoid the worst of the volatility. They are as follows:

Asaleo Care Ltd (ASX: AHY)

The leading personal care and hygiene company has had a very disappointing couple of months, culminating in a whopping 33% decline in its share price. This was the result of a 23.2% drop in half year statutory net profit after tax to $24.9 million. A combination of increased competition and higher input costs led to the drop in profits. Whilst these headwinds aren’t going away any time soon, I feel much of this has now been priced in. Despite the drop in profits management looks likely to hold its dividend firm this year. If it does then its shares will provide an unfranked 6.7% dividend. So with the shares changing hands at just 12x trailing earnings, the company behind household staples such as the Sorbent and Libra brands could be a great pick in volatile markets.

Coca-Cola Amatil Ltd (ASX: CCL)

Although Coca-Cola Amatil is no longer the bargain buy it was just a few months ago, it still provides investors with strong defensive qualities thanks to its products being staples in many people’s lives. During the global financial crisis Coca-Cola Amatil continued to grow profits and its dividend at an incredibly impressive rate. Things aren’t quite as easy now though and management does have a job on its hands to arrest the slowdown in its core domestic business. But I wouldn’t bet against Coca-Cola Amatil. I believe the company’s unparalleled distribution model puts it in a strong position to adapt to shifts in consumer habits.

Woolworths Limited (ASX: WOW)

In the last two years the shares of this beaten down retailer have lost around 36% of their value. Whether it be a loss of market share or an unsuccessful foray into the home improvements industry, nothing has gone right for Woolworths. But there are small signs that its turnaround plans are starting to have an effect. The company advised recently that supermarket same store sales were finally in positive territory after five straight quarters of declines. This may be an opportune time to invest in the retailer, especially considering its relatively cheap price, strong dividend, and defensive qualities.

Before making an investment I would highly recommend taking a look to see if you own either of these three wealth-destroying ASX shares? Each could be about to drag your portfolio lower in my opinion.

3 Rotten Shares to Sell, and 1 to Buy Today

After a double-digit rally for the ASX since 2016 lows, investors should be on high alert. You'll find a full rundown below of 3 shares we think you should avoid today plus one top pick worth buying, even if the market turns south and the RBA keeps rates at an "emergency low." Simply click here to uncover these stocks.

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Motley Fool contributor James Mickleboro has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.