Tag Archives: saturated fats

Healthy Living Real Food

Why My Family Loves Lard

Today I’m rendering lard in my kitchen.

Wait, did I just say a dirty word? You’d certainly think so. When I say the word “lard” to some people, they do a double-take, as though I’ve just uttered some foul language and should go wash my mouth out with soap.

The picture shows two young adults who appear to be happy and healthy because they are imbibing. All joking aside, their vibrant health was not from the alcohol they drank nor their sparkling personalities. Lard is certainly not new to the human diet, but over the last 100 or so years, it’s been increasingly absent from our tables and kitchens.

Why is lard such a misunderstood food?

I’ve got one word: Marketing. Fats have been wrongly villanized in medical and health communities for many decades.  This translated over to the food industry very well, and just as lard was once marketed as a health food, unhealthy, artificial fats started being marketed to the public just after the turn of the 20th century when hydrogenated vegetable oils were created. It was more cost-effective to produce these products because the meat industry had a monopoly on lard and tallow used for soaps, candles, and cooking.

Proctor & Gamble hired a chemist to create a product that resembled lard so they could produce soap and other products for less money. It looked so much like lard, “Crisco” was born. It was at this time that saturated fat and cholesterol in particular, became “unhealthy” to consume.  No longer were people encouraged to eat real animal fats, but instead, fake, modern fats. Despite the fact that lard is comprised of 40% monounsaturated fat, as a culture, we’ve continued to bestow a most unfair criticism of it. All because, dare I say it…it’s an animal fat!

Deaths from heart disease were rare prior to 1920s in the U.S. Prior to that, tallow (beef fat) and lard were the most widely used for cooking. Around the turn of the 20th century, shortening (think Crisco) started becoming a more commonly used “fat” in people’s kitchens. Read this history of cottonseed oil and how it took the place of lard and tallow in American kitchens due to the discovery of hydrogenation.

Perhaps lately you may have seen some of the various articles circulating around proclaiming lard’s true health benefits. Here, or perhaps here. Of course, these articles are heralding the benefits of real, unhydrogenated lard which is very important. Most of what you’ll find on the consumer or commercial markets is hydrogenated lard, if you can find it at all. The other point they make which I don’t agree with is that because it has less saturated fat (about 40%, as compared to other animal fats like dairy and red meat), it’s better for us.  This couldn’t be more false.

Lard is really a health food!

Actually, we need many different kinds of fats in our diets to be healthy. That includes saturated fats, monounsaturated fats, and even a little polyunsaturated fats – but from real foods that are unadulterated. The source is of key importance. For thousands of years, people have eaten real fats, and this practice has ensured the survival of humankind. Dr. Weston A. Price discovered in his travels that there were no successful plant-based societies, and that those who were eating animal fats in their diets were healthiest.

A recent article on the Weston A. Price Foundation site by Dr. Kaayla Daniel reveals just how detrimental plant-based diets can be, that they are actually responsible for depleting our bodies of critical nutrients such as B12, and lead to high mortality rates caused by heart disease.

The way food is produced now has contributed greatly to metabolic disorder of which heart disease, obesity, food allergies, auto-immune disorders, hormonal problems, diabetes and blood sugar problems, and other problems like cavities and osteoporosis are all a part. But conventional medical and health professionals seldom mention this fact. They just say fats and meats and cholesterol are bad for us to eat.

If you do consume lard, you’ll want to render it yourself from the fat of hogs on pasture. Local farmers who are mindful of sustainable practices can provide this healthy fat for very little cost or sometimes free. Last year I wrote a post about the Forgotten Craft of Rendering Lard. For recipes on how to render your own and where to get the best lard, a bit about the history of lard, and more about why it’s such a wrongly feared, but beneficial health food, please read it and pass it along to those you know who could benefit from reading it.

Benefits of lard from pastured hogs

  • Excellent source of Vitamin D, of which most people are deficient
  • Boosts the immune and digestive system (which are intertwined)
  • Supports cardiovascular and arterial health
  • Provides lasting energy for the body, and keeps blood sugar and metabolism even
  • Enhances bone, cartilidge, teeth, and muscle health
  • Benefits the liver and pancreas by
  • Can be used for higher heat cooking since it contains saturated fats, which are stable in heat – up to 375 degrees
  • Is generally odorless and does not impart the “pork” taste to other foods, so is versatile in many types of cooking

How do I love lard? Let me count the ways!

We use lard for so many things we do in our kitchen. Here’s just a few uses:

  • home-made refried beans
  • desserts and pies
  • frying vegetables
  • braising meats
  • cooking potatoes (and especially, home-made french fries!)
  • popcorn
  • fried plantains or apples
  • stir-fry
  • cooking eggs, pancakes, crepes, and other breakfast foods
  • cracklings (which I have yet to try, but if you asked the Ingalls family whether they are good, you’d get a resounding YES!)

So, if you’re thinking about using lard for cooking, you should know it has amazing health benefits as well as versatility in many things you can prepare…but most of all, that it’s definitely not the enemy it’s been made out to be by conventional health sources.

Like many things, scientists have at one time condemned it and are now starting to come around again. Remember the scare we had for many years about how eggs were bad for our health? Now eggs are considered healthy to eat again. But eggs aren’t healthy to eat because they don’t have as much cholesterol as we once thought. It’s because eggs have nutrients we need for health – CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), Omega 3 essential fatty acids, cholesterol, Vitamins A, D, E, K, minerals like calcium, iron, zinc, phosphorus, and magnesium, folate, B6, B12, and choline, . Just like lard from hogs on pasture, eggs from hens on pasture are much higher in these essential nutrients.

The problem has been that because our food system has changed so many traditional foods from what they used to be – life-giving, nutrient-dense components of health – we are now seeing the results on our well-being, which is a decline in health due to the consumption of foods that are barely recognizable from what they once were – processed, irradiated, pasteurized, full of hormones, antibiotics, pesticides/herbicides, residue from chemical fertilizers, GMOs, and other harmful substances.

More information:
The forgotten craft of rendering lard
The importance of dietary fats
Looking for lard in your area? Check out:
Lard Lover’s network

This post is part of Sarah The Healthy Home Economist’s Monday Mania Carnival and

Mind, Body, and Sole’s Wildcrafting Wednesdays Blog Hop. 

Healthy Living Healthy Meat Kids & Family Real Food

Deceptions in the Food Industry: Low-Fat Foods


In this new series, I’m going to show you the fallacies of processed foods, and the claims made on the labels of many foods you will find in the grocery store.

One by one, I’ll go through various types of packaged foods you may recognize and eat, and may even be under the false assumption that these foods have worthwhile health benefits.

In this post, I’ll talk about one of the darlings of the processed food world: low-fat foods. These foods are the craze of the mainstream health community. For decades, doctors, health “experts”, personal trainers, and dietitians have touted the benefits of eating low-fat and low-calorie foods.

Experts repeatedly warn us about fat and cholesterol being bad for our health and that these foods will contribute to weight gain, heart disease, stoke, high blood pressure, and cancer.

Here are some things you may not know about low-fat foods:

  • Most low-fat foods are highly processed and full of chemicals and other artificial ingredients which contribute to health problems, including GMOs, additives, preservatives, modern, rancid vegetable oils, soy-by-products, gluten, and others
  • Removing fat always means adding sugar
  • These foods don’t help you lose weight because they have been altered from their original state found in nature, and no longer have co-factors, enzymes, and amino acids necessary for digestion. Your body won’t know what to do with these substances that don’t quite resemble food. They’ll make you fat much quicker than they’ll slim you down
  • Some foods that don’t say low-fat on the front of the label reveal otherwise when you read the ingredients. A good example are many dairy products such as milk, sour cream, and cheese. Check labels of many dairy products in the grocery store and you’ll see this to be true. Check the information on these foods (some are organic) and notice the inclusion of fat-free, non-fat and other skim or low-fat ingredients
  • Some of the so-called “heart healthy” foods on the market contain polyunsaturated fats such as canola oil, cottonseed oil, soybean oil, and others which are unstable when heated and are often already rancid on the shelf. Did you know that “75% of arterial plaque is made up of unsaturated fat, of which 50% is polyunsaturated”? According to Chris Kresser, only 25% is saturated! “The greater the concentration of polyunsaturated fat in the plaque, the more likely it is to rupture. Such ruptures, and the ensuing blood clots that form, are a primary cause of heart attacks.” Polyunsaturated vegetable oils are also high in Omega 6s which contribute to inflammation.

Instead of low-fat, non-fat, and fat-free foods, eat real foods that contain critical fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K2 for health:

  • Plenty of real, healthy fats like butter, lard & tallow from healthy animals on pasture, extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil, and fermented cod liver oil
  • Dairy products that are preferably raw, and whole-fat like milk, cheese, cream, sour cream, yogurt, buttermilk, and cream cheese from healthy cows on pasture without preservatives, additives, hormones, or antibiotics
  • Meats and poultry from grass-fed animals, and don’t trim the fat off. Meat from grassfed animals has 2 to 4 times more Omega 3 essential fatty acids than its conventional counterparts (grain-fed meat). Fat from healthy animals on pasture contains the correct ratios of enzymes and nutrients your body can recognize, absorb, and use for health

Health benefits of fats and fat-soluble vitamins:

  • Foods with fat contain more nutrients than those without, and especially fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K which are necessary to absorb other nutrients in the foods you eat.
  • Essential for brain health
  • Enhances our immune system performance
  • Supports eyes and moistens mucous membranes and skin
  • Are critical to cell and skin health
  • Strengthen our digestive tract and protect against harmful microorganisms found there
  • Provide an easily absorbed source of energy for the body, which will keep you full longer and provide the staying power to keep you going
  • Are essential to nervous system, brain, and cardiovascular function
  • Vital to blood, pancreas, and bone-building and maintenance. Vitamin K deficiency has been linked to diabetes and other auto-immune disorders

Dr. Weston A. Price who studied traditional diets of people living all over the world discovered that all populations who ate animal fats and animal products containing fat and cholesterol had superior health and were largely free from disease and illness. Ditch toxic, processed foods and eat foods containing healthy fat with abandon and watch your health soar!

Suggested reading:

Know Your FatsMary G. Enig, PhD.

The Great Cholesterol Con:- The Truth About What Really Causes Heart Disease and How to Avoid ItDr. Malcolm Kendrick

More information:

Does dietary fat increase blood cholesterol? An informal review of observational studies – Whole Health Source, Stephan Guyenet

The definitive guide to saturated fat – Mark’s Daily Apple

Don’t be a calorie counter – eat fat and lose weight!

Fat-free, low-fat, and non-fat do not equal health

This post is part of Food Renegade’s Fight Back Friday Carnival.