She. Did. Not. Just. Say. That.
Oh I assure you I did.
I have never really eaten Lard in it's most convenient form: tub. I have, of course, eaten bacon, but the rents hated the pork flavor so much that they just tossed the leftover bacon grease. I bought a pre-made pie crust in the days before I had a Table of Promise sitting in my house. Those folks used half shortening and half lard. I was Horrified to discover that gem. The container had two pie crusts and after I discovered what I was eating, I threw the other one away. This is how much we have been pre-programmed to stay away from animal fats like lard and tallow. Those saturated fat laiden items will surely kill us, right?
I have said this before at The Table of Promise, nutritionists aren't specific to their audience when they speak. They address the public as a total, but I have found that two specific groups are listening, the older crowd who are afraid that what they eat will shorten their life span and the younger crowd who are afraid that what they eat will make them fat and unattractive. The problem is that now all our health and food information is about how fat equals a shorter life span and this lumps both the groups together and just adds one more layer to all the misinformation. Lard however, is a different story. Everyone, including me until recently, is pretty well positive that lard is unhealthy, will make you fat faster than other fats and eventually will kill you by clogging your arteries. Does that pretty much sum it up?
I stumbled across lard recently on the Internet. I cannot now remember why. But the article I found was very interesting and peaked my curiosity. It suggested that maybe lard isn't as bad for us as we had all originally thought.
All fats are fat. Yeah, that is right. But some are saturated and some are unsaturated. Some contain traces of water (like butter) that make them actually less calorie dense than their liquid cousins, but that water is just taking up space. Some fats are just fat, and some have trace minerals and vitamins in them. So it is not that cut and dried. I will explain.
I like the website http://www.nutritiondata.self.com/ They have alot of good info, and it is largely unbiased. They just have alot of tables and charts and allow you to draw your own conclusions. I looked up several things on their website in preparation for this post.
First off, Corn and Canola Oil. Both Corn and Canola oil were lumped together because I have to assume they have similar nutritional properties. (Side note:A Tablespoon is a VOLUME measurement, and some of the fats here are DENSER than other, so sometimes one tablespoon is 12 grams and other times a tablespoon is 14 grams. That does make a difference in the final nutrional data in comparison) So first off corn and canola oil have 124 calories in each tablespoon. One tablespoon of corn oil has 14 grams of total fat, 8% of which is saturated, 59% is monounsaturated and 29% is polyunsaturated (yeah-that only adds up to 96%, the website doesn't explain and I can only work with the numbers I am given). The total Omega-3 fatty acids are 813 mg and the Omega-6 fatty acids are 3217 mg (there are no established RDA's for the essential fatty acids....yet). A tablespoon of Corn Oil or Canola Oil also contain 10% of your daily Vitamin E intake and 7% of your daily Vitamin K intake and no phytosterols (more on that later).
A tablespoon of Olive Oil weighs 13g and has 119 calories. One tbsp has 13.5 grams of total fat, 14% of which is saturated, 73% is monounsaturated and 11% is polyunsaturated. The total Omega-3's are 103mg, and the total Omega-6's are 1318mg. One tbsp of Olive oil also contains 10% of your daily vitamin K intake, 10% f your vitamin E intake and 29.8 mg of phytosterols. Phytosterols are compounds found in plant fats that can reduce your cholestorol. Although Wikipedia states that corn oil contains sterols, nutritiondata.sef.com said they did not. I wonder who is true.
Now butter is an animal fat, but it contains some water, so that affects it weight, fat content and calories for the volume measurement of one tablespoon. A tablespoon of butter weighs 14g and has 100 calories. It has 11.4 g of total fat, and of that 63% is saturated fat, 25% is monounsaturated fat and 4% is polyunsaturated fat. Total Omega-3's are 44.1mg and the total Omega-6's are 382mg. One tablespoon of butter also contains 7% of your daily Vitamin A intake, 2% of your daily Vitamin E intake, and 1% of your Vitamin K intake.
Shortening, the hydrogenated vegetable oil that was created to replace lard has been found to be really really bad for us. Even the government recommends that the daily intake for transfat be ZERO. Even though everyone for decades told us margarine was better for us than butter, they were all wrong. We are still wrong about something and we just don't know it yet, I am sure of it. But let's look at the stats, shall we? One tbsp of shortening weighs in at 12 g and has 113 calories. One tbsp also has 13 grams of fat, of which 25% is saturated fat, 42% is monounsaturated fat, 28% is polyunsaturated fat and 13% is trans fat. Total Omega-3's are 240mg and total Omega-6's are 3343mg. One tbsp of shortening will give you 6.8% of your daily Vitamin K intake.
And lastly we have arrived at lard. Take a look at what I found. One tablespoon of lard weighs in at 12g and has 115 calories. One tbsp of lard has 13 grams of total fat, 39% of which is saturated fat, 45% is monounsaturated fat and 11% is polyunsaturated fat. It's total Omega-3's are 128mg and total Omega-6's are 1300mg. One tbsp of lard will also give you 6.3mg of choline, the same compound in egg yolks.
Now I didn't list out all these stats to help you find the ONE item which is the best for you. That would suggest that I think that eating the same thing day after day is good for you! No, a body needs variety, and a body needs different kinds and sources of fats. But I prefer the ones found unprocessed in nature, like butter, basic pressed olive or peanut oil and lard. So what did I take away from all these stats? First-all of these fats have some saturated fat in them. Although modern nutritionism has made saturated fats out to be so bad, even oh-so-holy olive oil does contain some saturated fat. Secondly-lard is made from primarily UNsaturated fats (the good kind). And lastly-lard is lower in saturated fat than butter.
I also like the idea that lard is a natural fat. We began domesticating pigs in around 7000BC. There is no doubt in my mind that we have evolved to eat them and their fat. Humans have been eating it for thousands of years. We have been eating corn oil and shortening for less than one hundred years and they require really aggressive processing. We also know that at least one of those two foods we have managed to really screw up by creating trans fatty acids. So when it comes to fat, I like to keep to a couple rules. First off, I don't fry at home. Deep frying is too difficult and creates alot of (expensive) waste. I am eating less and less of this delicious food group even at restaurants, but here's to my health! Also, I will eat natural fats, but I like to make sure that my food doesn't taste greasy. At least then I know that the amount of fat is within balance and I am probably not eating too much. And lastly, the French would say "je n'est pas faim". Roughly translated it means "I do not have hunger". I try to stop eating when I no longer have hunger, rather than waiting until I am full (it is a really different perspective, no?). These are the ways that I can have my butter and my lard without too much guilt and no pooch hangin' over the skinny jeans.
And now that I have that cleared up, I think I am going to go make a pie crust.