I love eating veggies cooked in lard or tallow!
If you’re thinking, “Eww! Gross!” or “Lard is horrible for your heart… this nutritionist does NOT eat healthily!”, then please, read on…
What is a ‘healthy fat’?
Our bodies need all 3 of the following types of healthy fats:
- Saturated: butter, coconut oil, palm oil, and animal fats like lard, tallow, duck fat
- Monounsaturated: cold-pressed oils of olive, avocado, macadamia nut*, sesame*
- Polyunsaturated*: cold-pressed oils of walnuts, almonds, hemp, flax
*Seed and nut oils turn rancid when exposed to heat (whether during processing or in your kitchen). Be sure to buy these oils as “cold-pressed” in dark containers, in the refrigerated section of your health-food store, and only use them raw, on cold foods.
Due to mis-representation and mis-interpretation of a few scientific studies in the mid-1950s that ballooned into government-mandated recommendations for all Americans, 2 generations of us have made crucial food choices in the name of our health. We have been replacing natural foods like butter, eggs, bacon, lard, and coconut oil (all high in saturated fats and dietary cholesterol), with ‘food products’ like margarine, egg-white substitutes, soy-‘bacon’, canola and corn oil (all engineered in a laboratory and produced en mass with industrial processes – see for yourself in this video). All the while, we’ve been getting sicker by the year, with drastic increases in numbers of heart attacks, and cases of chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer, and autoimmune disease.
(Learn a lot more by reading THIS article by Dr. Mercola about the history of industry politics and governmental recommendations, and even more in this paper, entitled The Oiling of America, by Sally Fallon and Dr. Mary Enig.)
But I Thought Saturated Fat Was Bad for Me…?
It’s true that some fats are toxic for human consumption and have been clearly implicated in the rise of inflammatory-based diseases… but they are notsaturated fats and dietary cholesterol… they are TRANS FATS and highly refined VEGETABLE OILS, found in processed “food products” like margarine, shortening, and canola oil.
Saturated fats are not harmful to our hearts as we have been misled to believe – in fact, they are critically important to our health in a number of ways.
- Provide an excellent source of long-lasting energy, and are the preferred fuel for our hard-working hearts
- Are a component of the membrane of every cell in our body – controlling the inflow of nutrients and the outflow of waste products.
- Are necessary for healthy liver function – the liver needs saturated fats to create healthy bile, which allows for effective fat digestion and metabolism
- Are essential for the absorption and use of the fat-soluble vitamins – A, K, E, and D.
- Are required for the adequate digestion and use of proteins in our bodies.
- Slow the absorption of carbohydrates, resulting in balanced energy.
- Are critical (in concert with poly- and monounsaturated fats) in managing the inflammatory process.
- Provide building blocks for many of our hormones
- Taste really good, and trigger the hormones of satiation, allowing us to feel full and satisfied.
If we don’t eat foods that contain naturally saturated fats, we are depriving ourselves of the building blocks needed by every cell, every nerve, every muscle, and many of the hormones in our bodies! In addition, every bit of heat-refined vegetable/seed oil we ingest becomes integrated into our tissues and organs (our bodies have a hard time telling them apart from the good ones) and decreases our ability to take in nutrients and detoxify the waste.
OK, You’ve Convinced Me. So How do I Make this Change in My Diet?
Step 1: Begin paying attention to what you are eating – search every label for ingredients like “vegetable oil, soybean oil, canola oil, cottonseed oil, or shortening”. These oils are commonly used in just about all ready-made or packaged food, from salad dressings, peanut butter, and baked goods to chips, hummus, and spaghetti sauce.
Step 2: Seek out alternatives to these products in the stores, or make your own. Natural peanut butters have no added oils, and olive-oil-based salad dressings and hummus are fun and easy to make at home (I’ve done both with a bunch of 1st graders in my kids’ cooking classes). There are some really tasty avocado oil chips on the market now. And who doesn’t love home-baked muffins?
Step 3: Bring the natural, unprocessed, good fats into your kitchen and use them whenever you cook. Saturated fats are extremely stable at high temperatures. Stock your kitchen with high quality (from pastured animals) butter, lard, tallow, duck fat and coconut oil, as well as cold-pressed olive, sesame, flax, or walnut oils for drizzling on foods after they’re cooked. As you bring in the good, get rid of the bad – throw out the bottle of rancid veggie oil!
- Sauté up some veggies in butter with salt and pepper for a simple side dish
- Begin a soup with onions caramelized in coconut oil
- Use butter or coconut oil in your next batch of pancakes, cookies, or muffins
- Roast root veggies covered in melted tallow, salt, pepper, and herbs de Provence on a pan in the oven (375F for 1 hour, stir once)
- Pop your next batch of popcorn in coconut oil and add salt and cinnamon
- Drizzle your next Asian stirfry with cold-pressed sesame oil after it’s cooked
- Mix up a big batch of your own vinaigrette for your next salad with olive and flax oils, balsamic vinegar, mustard, garlic, a bit of honey, and salt, pepper, and herbs (keeps great on the shelf for weeks!)
It takes a while to stop feeling guilty for eating and enjoying bacon, eggs fried in butter, heavy cream in your coffee, and lard in your veggies… but I invite you to do exactly that. Paradigm shifts require brave new ways of thinking and acting. I promise you, there’s a REASON all of these natural fats taste so good and are so deeply satisfying – they are really good for us!