Should I really be cooking with LARD? Yes!!
I know, it may sound crazy that anyone would want to cook with lard. After all it’s fat from an animal, it’s full of cholesterol, there’s no way it could possibly be healthy. Well, amazingly enough it actually is healthy and about the cholesterol- it’s the same thing we’ve heard about eggs, eating cholesterol does not increase your blood cholesterol levels. In fact, low fat diets are more likely to increase your cholesterol levels and consuming saturated fats can actually increase HDL- your levels of healthy cholesterol.
Lard was used for centuries before we decided to become fat phobic and remove all things that contained fat from our diets.
But before I go any farther let me say that not all lard is created equally. Just like there is a huge difference in the nutritional value of 100% Grass-fed beef that are free to roam the fields versus conventional feed lot cows there is also a difference in lard depending on how the pigs were raised. You want to make sure to chose lard from pastured hogs that have access to sunlights and are not being pumped full of GMO’s and antibiotics. The best way to do this is to visit your local farm or farmers market and ask questions about how their pigs are raised and buy from someone local that you trust.
What’s so great about lard?
Lots of things!
It is heat stable which means you can go ahead and fry some pastured chicken in it and feel good about the fact that the fact you’re frying in isn’t becoming rancid. This isn’t true for all fats- in fact quite a few that sit in most peoples kitchens shouldn’t be heated because they become oxidized. Oxidized fats can lead to free radicals which in turn can lead to inflammation and reduced health.
Since it has a nice neutral flavor you can use it to cook pretty much anything- from pie crusts to deep fried chicken to sautéed vegetables. Coconut oil is another much beloved oil but because of its coconut flavor it just doesn’t work in as many applications as lard does.
It’s actually healthy! Unbelievable right? Eating fat can make you healthier- and can even help you loose weight!
It’s a great winter fat!
Lard happens to be one of the highest food sources of vitamin D which we all know is essential, especially in the winter when we’re not exposed to as much sunlight. Synthetic vitamin D can impact your body in different ways including through your blood calcium levels as it did with me in the past, but vitamin D from real food doesn’t have those kinds of negative impacts on our bodies. Our bodies know what to do with real food- they’re not so sure about what to do with synthetic vitamins.
If you tend to get a little depressed when the weather starts getting gloomier or if you typically suffer from seasonal depression switch your cooking fat from lard and see what kind of an impact it has on you over a few weeks. Just one tablespoon of lard contains 1,000 IU’s of vitamin D and it has no more calories or cholesterol than a tablespoon of olive oil!
So now that you know you have no reason to fear fat take a field trip to visit a local farmer if you can and start adding some lard into your diet!