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Lard: the momentum just keeps growing

Posted by: Trevor

September 17, 2013

Many of our customers have been advocates of pasture-raised lard for some time now, and it's gratifying to see the abundance of articles and research supporting this position. No longer simply limited to followers of Weston Price's research, Paleo-diet enthusiasts, or celebrity chefs, lard from outdoor pigs is beginning to catch-on all across the culture. I thought it would be encouraging to post some excerpts from recent lard posts I've come across:

These points made by the Toronto Star in "Why lard's healthier than you think".

This rendered pig blubber is not a typical saturated animal fat. With an unusual chemical composition, pure lard contains no trans fats.

And in terms of its fatty acids, it's better than butter: Lard is 60 per cent monounsaturated fat, which is associated with a decreased risk of heart disease. Butter is 45 per cent monounsaturated fat.

Most of lard's monounsaturated fat is oleic acid, a heart-healthy essential fatty acid found in olive oil and associated with decreasing LDLs, thus lowering "bad" cholesterol. Lard contains about double the amount of oleic acid found in butter, says Nick Bellissimo, assistant professor in Ryerson University's Department of Nutrition.


Homemade lard is simple --- a slow-cooker is all you need. Source: Wikimedia Commons

And this next one is from an Independent Online article "Lard: it's all about balance".

Studies have shown that fat from cows and pigs that are pasture-fed has higher levels of mono-unsaturated and polyunsaturated fats than that from conventionally raised, grain-fed animals. So buying a tub of grain-fed lard to cook with, especially if it's hydrogenated to improve its supermarket shelf life (hydrogenation can be a source of trans fat), may not be a good call from a health standpoint. But lard from a pasture-raised pig can provide a good balance of fats and be part of a healthy diet...

And this next excerpt comes from Dr. Andrew Weil's Q&A "Is Lard Healthy?".

Nutritionally speaking, lard has nearly one-fourth the saturated fat and more than twice the monounsaturated fat as butter. It is also low in omega-6 fatty acids, known to promote inflammation; according to lard enthusiasts free-range pigs that eat greens, not grains, have higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids.

Lard has always been prized as a cooking fat because it has a higher smoking point than other fats. For that reason, foods fried in lard absorb less grease. It also has the reputation of producing ultra-flaky pastry crust.

Cans of lard are available in supermarkets, but most of these products have been hydrogenated so they'll last longer and are probably not what you want. The best lard is considered to be minimally processed "leaf lard" from the area around the pig's abdomen and kidneys or fatback lard from the pig's back. You can get these at high-end specialty markets or online.

And finally, this excellent article from The Guardian "Consider Lard".

Before the second world war Britons ate lard without guilt or fear. Its disappearance from our kitchens parallels a surge in the national waistline and an upswing in the cosseted maladies of fat. It's worth remembering that the very people who so trumpeted the benefits of factory margarine which we now know caused considerably more harm than good were the same who lambasted lard and denied its natural glories.

By any estimation, lard is a healthier fat than butter. Gram for gram, it contains 20% less saturated fat, and it's higher in the monounsaturated fats which seem to lower LDL cholesterol (the "bad" kind) and raise HDL (the "good"). It's one of nature's best sources of vitamin D. Unlike shortening it contains no trans fats, probably the most dangerous fats of all. Of course it has more saturated fat than olive oil, but in her splendid book Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, Jennifer McLagan points out that even its saturated fat is believed to have a neutral effect on blood cholesterol.

So there you have it. If you haven't got aboard the lard train, it's time you considered doing so - you can place your order here. It's a fantastic addition to healthy cooking, and it's delicious.


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