The unbearable lightness of lard

Here in the U.S., nutritionists warn against lard saying it is an “artery clogging saturated fat.” But lard or pork fat is a dietary mainstay in the country of Georgia and the Vilcabamba region of Ecuador where people are noted for their longevity.

Lard really should be classified as a monounsaturated fat because it contains more of this heart-healthy fat than saturated. Lard also is high in vitamin D and is preferred by chefs for its flavor.

In addition to its high monounsaturated content, lard contains less saturated fat and cholesterol than butter. Here’s the math on a tablespoon of lard:

  • 5.7 grams of monounsaturated fat compared to 3.3 for butter.
  • 5 grams of saturated fat compared to 7.1 for butter.
  • Less than half the cholesterol of butter — 12.1 mg compared to 31 mg.

Lard also stands up to heat well, with less polyunsaturated fat than olive oil — 1.4 grams compared to 2. Polyunsaturated fats oxidize easily in heat, creating free-radicals, which have been linked to cancer formation.

Many in the health field have urged people to substitute polyunsaturated fats (vegetable oils) for fats like lard. Meanwhile, rates of chronic illness have soared.

Of course there can be too much of a good thing, and you want to consume an appropriate amount of lard as part of a healthy diet including plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits. As with any high-fat food, it’s best to buy organic lard, as pesticides, heavy metals and other toxins tend to bind to fats. I recently purchased a quart of organic lard made from the fat of pasture-raised pigs from my friends at Larga Vista Ranch — it’s out of this world for scrambling eggs or sautéing greens.

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2 Responses to “The unbearable lightness of lard”

  1. pete Says:

    That’s why refried beans and other delights taste so good, because they are so healthy. Thanks, Dr. Hal.

  2. Hal Walter Says:

    Beans are a fairly low glycemic food, and the glycemic effect is lowered further when you add lard or any fat. Lard obviously is a better choice than hydrogenated shortening which contains trans fat. It should be noted, however, that beans are high in carbohydrates.

    Also, there’s another truth hidden here. When you eat something with fat like lard, you get a feeling of satiety. This often means you will eat less overall. Many people on low-fat diets, for example, actually gain weight because they eat more due to never being satisfied.

    Also, I am not a doctor of anything, even journalism.

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