Lard & Beef Tallow: Minimally Processed is Best


By Eric R. Gustafson
IN FOOD CIRCLES, THERE’S A FAIR AMOUNT OF BUZZ AROUND THE TERM “MINIMALLY PROCESSED.”The conventional wisdom — which, in this case, is spot on — is that the less processing, the better.According to one popular meme, “if you don’t recognize an ingredient, your body won’t, either.” It’s a sound way to define our relationship to the food we eat. The fact is, however, that “minimally processed”remains aspirational for a substantial portion of the food industry. Far too much of our food supply is anything but. Many of the vegetable oils we consume are, indeed, “maximally processed” — to our detriment. The culprits are “process contaminants.” The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), which is responsible for conducting risk analysis on the safety of food in the European Union, recently released its findings concerning the risks to public health from intake of glycidyl fatty acid esters(GE), 3-monochloropropanediol (3-MCPD), and 2-monochloropropanediol (2-MCPD) esters. These substances form during food processing — in particular,when refining vegetable oils at high temperatures. The EFSA found “sufficient evidence” that glycidol is genotoxic and carcinogenic. The highest levels of GE, as well as 3-MCPD and 2-MCPD, were found in palm oils and palm fats, followed by other oils and fats. Intake in children under 18 — and particularly infants — was characterized as a potential health concern.By contrast, the natural makeup of both lard and beef tallow promotes health. Neither contains the artificial trans fats found in hydrogenated shortenings. Both are naturally stable and solid at room temperature. When heated, they do not release free radicals, which have been linked to cancer, as vegetable oils do. And, they’re minimally processed– virtually nothing is added, and what’s already there(plenty of monosaturates) is good for you. Aside from the unbeatable flavor, animal fats provide optimum nutrition for healthy growth and reproduction, and they help the body absorb important nutrients.The science is increasingly clear. With toxic additives and carcinogenic compounds putting popular vegetable oils at risk, embracing “minimally processed” animal fats isn’t a fad. Given the unsavory alternative, “minimally processed” needs to be how we live.

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