“Lard ass, tub of lard, lardo.” An article in Prevention opens with these three poignant offenses. It goes on to say, “With insults like these now part of our social vernacular, it's no wonder lard has gotten such a bad rap. The word isn't just synonymous with fat — it actually is fat, or pork fat culled from the area surrounding a pig's stomach and rendered for use in cooking.”
With that being said, who in her or his right mind would want to cook using lard? It sounds unhealthy, and it’s made up of about 40 percent saturated fats. Won’t eating it turn you into a regular ol’ tub o’ lard?
Apparently not: According to fairly recent studies, saturated fats aren’t that bad for you. Along with the fact that lard doesn't taint foods cooked in it with any flavor, its high saturated fat content is just one of the reasons why lard may be the newest, trendiest fat on the block. Here’s why:
Cholesterol (Oh, Yeah, It’s Healthy)
Lard sits comfortably in the 18th position on a list of the top 22 foods richest in cholesterol. Lard provides us with dietary cholesterol which is, in fact, beneficial to the body and doesn’t contribute to blood cholesterol levels. Rather, it supports healthy hormone production and helps deal with inflammation.
While lists of heart-healthy foods don’t generally contain lard, it appears that they may want to consider adding it in the near future.
“The pervasive myth that animal fats increase the risk of heart disease is just that – a myth,” says Empowered Sustenance. “Our great-great-grandparents consumed lard and butter and experienced extremely low rates of heart disease. Lard is part of a healthy diet and will not give you [a] heart attack.”
Because of the way lard is chemically composed, it’s great to bake and to cook with. At around 40 percent saturated fat, 50 percent monounsaturated fat, and 10 percent polyunsaturated fat, its high saturated-fat content prevents the other fat from oxidizing when introduced to heat.
TLDR: You’ll probably want to try making your next batch of healthy chocolate chip cookies with lard.
After cod liver oil, lard ranks second on the list of foods highest in vitamin D.
Why Not Follow History?
It’s time to revitalize lard, a product that was in every American pantry and pan just mere decades ago. Rumors say that Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle may have played a big role in the killing of lard, but, regardless of who killed it, there’s no reason that lard can’t come back. Generations upon generations of cooks used this healthy fat, and we think you should too.
Help bring it back by trying one of our best recipes with lard.
The accompanying slideshow is provided by special contributor Julie Ruggirello.