Posts Tagged ‘Lard’

Life Line Screening

September 18, 2008

I think it’s important from time to time to have some health screening done. If everything is fine, great. If you need to adjust your diet and/or lifestyle, it also can provide the impetus to do that.

Life Line Screening was in Westcliffe yesterday. This company does ultrasound screening for carotid artery disease, atrial fibrillation, aortic aneurism, peripheral arterial disease, heart disease and diabetes. They tell you up front that if they find something terrible you will be told right away, but otherwise it takes three weeks to get the results.

I took it as a good sign when I was not escorted directly to an ambulance.

Life Line also offered a blood lipid profile test taken from a simple finger stick with results available in 6 minutes. Life Line says the test meets the Centers for Disease Control “Gold Standard” for accuracy. I was disappointed the pre-test survey, which is most likely used for scientific analysis, did not ask about eggs or lard, which I consume almost daily along with a lot of vegetables and fruit. My results:

  • Total choleterol: 196 (below 200 is considered good)
  • HDL “good” cholesterol: 87 (above 40 is good)
  • Triglycerides: <45 (below 150 is good)

Because my triglycerides were so low, the test was not able to calculate my LDL cholesterol, which people often call the “bad” cholesterol but is actually only bad when it oxidizes. It’s another discussion altogether.

The blood test also measured C-reactive protein, which is a marker for chronic inflammation, with high levels now considered a major risk factor for heart trouble. Mine registered at 0.67. Anything below 1.0 is considered a low risk, with 1-3 being average.

For those in need of some guidance about health screening and what to do about the results, I recommend the book “In Fitness and In Health” written by Phil Maffetone and edited by myself. 

The unbearable lightness of lard

August 29, 2008

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.