The 3 Surprising Health Benefits of Lard


Lard is good.

Yes, lard makes for a heavenly, moist and flakey texture for baked goods, but before you become riddled with guilt for your indulgence in greasy goodness, consider the health benefits of animal fats.

Benefit 1: Smoothing Your Skin

If after frying up a pound of sliced bacon, you wash your hands using a bar of soap, you could be washing off meat grease with more animal fat.

That’s because bar soaps such as Ivory (Stock Quote: PG), Dove and Lever 2000 from Unilever (Stock Quote: UL) and Irish Spring (Stock Quote: CL) are made with sodium tallowate, a combination of animal fat and lye, to cleanse and moisturize skin. 

Ingestion of animal fats—in limited amounts—may also be good for dry skin.

And while whale blubber may no longer be an ingredient in lipstick and other beauty products, a number of other animal fats and animal-derived substances can be found in emollients that topically moisturize your skin.  If a product’s ingredients label list sodium tallowate or arachidonic acid, it contains an animal fat-derived substance.  Arachidyl proprionate and caprylic acid are also often derived from animal fats or milk fats.

Benefit 2: A Little Fat Can Be Good for Your Bones
Lard is high in cholesterol, but cholesterol converts to vitamin D in the body.  Vitamin D is essential in the absorption of calcium, which is necessary for growing and maintaining healthy bones.  

We're not saying women should be eating lard by the spoonful, but vitamin D is also a necessary nutrient for pregnant or lactating women who pass the vitamin on to growing fetuses and breast-fed babies.  However, fortified milk may be a healthier option than lard if you want to ensure you get enough vitamin D.

Benefit 3: You Can Reduce Air Pollution with Animal Fats
Imagine powering your Ford (Stock Quote: F) or Chevy (Stock Quote: GM) truck with rendered chicken fat.  Wouldn’t you feel better about your contribution to the environment by using a source of energy that might otherwise go to waste?

Animal fat makes up a significant portion of America’s biodiesel, and instead of creating carbon monoxide or traditional diesel-produced emissions that have been shown to cause asthma in children, using animal fat to power your car could contribute to fewer harmful chemicals in the air.

Right now, 60% of biodiesel is made from soybean oil, but the rest consists of animal fats and other waste greases, says Jessica Robinson of the National Biodiesel Board.   In addition, it’s a fuel that’s domestically produced, renewable and biodegradable.

“It biodegrades as fast as sugar,” Robinson says. "Life cycle analysis shows that biodiesel reduces carbon dioxide emissions by nearly 80% compared to petrol diesel.”

“Animal fat definitely is already playing a role in the making of alternative fuels and it will continue to have a strong future,” says Robert Gough, of the Oil Price Information Service.  Chicken company Tyson Foods (Stock Quote: TSN), in its partnership with fuel producer Syntroleum (Stock Quote: SYNM), recognizes the promise of the use of animal fats for so-called “renewable diesel.” And oil conglomerate ConocoPhillips (Stock Quote: COP) has even considered producing fuel with animal fat, Gough notes.

(Now that's phat!)

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