Is Lard Healthier Than Oil?
There is a belief that pig lard is an unhealthy grocerie which is making you fat, this myth is why many have replaced cooking with it with oils or butter. But is lard healthier than oil?
Real truth is that pig lard is quality source of fatty acids, which give the body necessary energy, and are healthy for your hearth. It also has less calories than olive oil.
Pig lard has always been unavoidable part of Serbian cuisine, all but few years ago when came questions is lard healthier than oil?
Bacon, pig lard and meat, cheese, are declared as groceries to avoid as they contribute to development of cardiovascular diseases. As they increase level of fat in your blood. It opened the way for refined oil consumption, sunflower and butter being the leaders. New researches however, have shown that we were wrong a long time. New studies have proven that damage done by saturated, natural fats, is way smaller than industrial refined oils, butters.
“Fact is that by exceedingly consuming saturated fats you increase values of cholesterol in blood, but also good HDL cholesterol is increased. So there is no expressed increase of risk for coronary disease. To form plaque on arteries, high cholesterol is not enough, there should also be inflammatory process involved. It forms when we intake to many unsaturated fats which are found in oils and butter.” This is opinion of dr. Danijela Ristic Medic, high science consultant for medical research of fats in food.
Experts can’t seem to find common ground on the question are fatty acids which are found in pig lard healthy or are they the common cause of cardiovascular diseases.
Fatty acids like the ones contained in pig lard are not stored in fat tissue, but are giving your body energy.
Good And Bad Cholesterol?
What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a supstance(imagine it as waxy) which is found in all cells of the organism, and it has numerous functions. Construction of body cells is one of the main ones. Through the blood stream goes tied to the protein which are called lipoprotein.
There are two kinds of lipoprotein:
- LDL – low density lipoprotein
- HDL – high density lipoprotein
These lipoproteins carry cholesterol through the body, to different tissues and organs. If our body has more cholesterol than it needs, that excess cholesterol circulates through our blood stream and in time creates fatty deposits in blood vessels.
Deposits of LDL cholesterol on blood vessels are called artery plaque. In time, deposits can grow so much to prevent blood from flowing. This is the cause of many cardiovascular diseases. That is why this cholesterol is called bad cholesterol.
For HDL lipoproteins is often said they are good cholesterol. HDL behaves like LDL hunter, collecting excess cholesterol in blood and carries it to liver where it is degraded. With HDL increase bad cholesterol levels are reduced.
Keep in mind that for some people cholesterol level is not the only factor with cardiac diseases. Factors like genetics, other protein and such should be taken into account.
Cholesterol levels are measured in miligrams of cholesteor by decilitre of blood or milimol(mmol) per litre.
- less than 40 mg/dl (1.0 mmol/L) is risky
- 60 mg/dl (1,6 mmol/L) or more is desired
If your HDL is between risky and desired you should try to increase it to reduce risk of cardiac diseases. If you do not know what your HDL levels are, consult endocrinologist to do test. In case your results are bad, endocrinologist will suggest some changes in everyday life to improve your condition.
How to increase HDL levels?
Your lifestyle has the biggest influence on your HDL levels. Even small changes can help you.
Reduce your body weight index – lose weight
If you have excess weigh, losing a small part of it can improve your HDL levels. For every couple of kg lost, HDL can be improved by 1mg/dl(0.03mmol/L)
Quitting cigarettes can increase HDL cholesterol as much as 10%.
Choose healthy fats.
Eating healthy includes fats intake, but there is a limit. Fats should be 25-35% of our daily diet. Saturated fats should make up less than 7% of our daily calories. Avoid food which is rich in saturated and trans fats, as they increase LDL cholesterol and damage blood vessels. This, again, brings us to question is lard healthier than oil?
Trans fat are preferably avoided in your diet because they have negative effect on your body. They carry risk of getting cardiac diseases. If you intake 5g of these fats, the risk of getting some cardiovascular disease is increased by 23%. Trans fats are named as hydrogenized or partially hydrogenized vegetable oil. They shouldn’t make of more than 1% of all the fats we intake by eating.
Why To Avoid Oil?
Vegetable oils are rich in unsaturated fatty acids. As oils have high energy value, they should be used with care. Cold pressed oils do not contain trans fatty acids. Trans fatty acids originate through refining, thermic treatment and hydrogenization(margarine). There is no cholesterol in oils. On the market refined oils are the most widespread.
Oils do not contain cholesterol, but are source of trans fatty acids, large quantities in diet lead to rise of tryglicerid in blood, and are unstable at high temperatures. According to some studies every oil on high temperature becomes cancerogenic. Keep in mind that breaded and deep fried food is not good for organism, and it should be avoided.
Truth is that 100 years ago people were not using oils and had rarely found themselves with cardiac diseases. Heart attack and stroke exclusively hit old people, but today there is more and more people in their fourties who get these dangerous diseases.
For sure this is not the only reason for this change, but trans fats from refined oils and margarine are considered suspects for this condition. Also, some experts point out that pig lard is better considering it’s resistance to high temperatures, while heating oils large quantity of free radicals is released, which are proven to cause atherosclerosis and cancer.
To find out more on atherosclerosis click HERE.
Most of the time oils cannot be avoided. They are available and cheap. In that case here are my top 5 picks for oils if you cannot find appropriate replacement.
Why Should You Pick Pig Lard?
Every gram of pig lard has 9 calories – same as gram of any kind of vegetable oil. So it is not correct that lard will make you fat, but it is true that it is biologicaly far better choice.
Why pig lard? It is most common. It better absorbs vitamins D,A and K. You can use it several times without fear of danger for your health. Opinion of many doctors is that lard should be used for cooking and oil only as spice(for salads).
In Serbia, during the hard times, people used to eat bread and lard. It is common thought that this can keep you healthy throughout the year.
If we consider fatty acids it contains, pig lard is better than butter. Pig lard has around 60% of monounsaturated fats, and those fats are connected to low risk of cardiac diseases. On the other side, butter has only 45% monounsaturated fats.
Large part of monounsaturated fats in pig lard is make of oleic acid. Very healthy fatty acid which helps your heart and is connected to lower level of bad (LDL) cholesterol. There is twice as much oleic acid in pig lard than in butter. But is lard healthier than oils?
Saturated Fatty Acids.
Are the ones with which have firm consistency and stable structure. But what does it mean when we say these fats are stable? That means that molecules are connected by single bond, and they are stable and not reactive with other molecules. Above all that means these fats do not release free radicals when exposed to heat. Therefore saturated in this case means safe(stable).
Pig lard is saturated, and does not oxidize. When oils oxidize they release free radicals (bad). Intake of free radicals should be minimized, to prevent inflammations and protect your health.
It is a myth that animal fats increase risk of heart diseases. It has been proven that when using pig lard, level of heart diseases is very low. However it has also been recorded a rise in diseases like diabetes and cardiac diseases, when animal fats were replaced with vegetable oils and margarins. Therefore cholesterol levels can be protector of health, and not the danger for it.
If you have used coconut oil, which is healthier than most oils, you have noticed that meals get coconut flavor. Sometimes it is what you want, but sometimes you just want for your food to taste naturally. For cooking and deep frying, pig lard is perfect solution. It is neutral in taste, and should be considered as perfect to taste the food you want to taste, and not oil residue.
After fish oil, pig lard is the biggest source of vitamin D. Only naturally bred pigs, which are free to roam the farm get enough sunlight to syntesize vitamin D. So it would be the best if you buy your pig lard from local butcher or farmer that can tell you how the pig were bred.
Excellent For Baking
You may think that pig lard is not good pair with sweet baking products, but it is widely used in bakeries.
Healthy Source Of Cholesterol
Pig lard is rich in cholesterol. By providing your body with quality fats, you regulate production of cholesterol in your body. Low levels of cholesterol in your blood is connected to depression, suicidal thoughts and agressive behavior.
I hope I have answered the question is lard healthier than oil? In my opinion it is, as I tend to use pig lard everyday for cooking, and limit oils only for salads.