I agree with the health-full-ness of Olive Oil, which is an omega-9 containing fat, so I’m going to consider it a given and move on to animal fats you can’t, or shouldn’t live without. This is certainly an area that is more controversial. I hope to shed some much needed light. Our low fat, fat free culture is sicker today than ever before. And factory beef, pork and chicken aren’t helping matters.
Animal fats from (naturally raised grass fed/antibiotic free/hormone free) chickens, turkeys, beef, lamb, goat, etc. have nourished cultures for years. I am fortunate at 46 years old to have grandparents who are still alive and so I have adult memories of talking to them about their food supply. They rendered beef fat and hog fat as young people. Back then, all meat was “natural”. Then, with a big family on one-income, wild game was a staple. I’ve long suspected that their “eat at home/nothing too fancy” habits have been what’s kept them going well into their 90’s.
I have known for years and years that grass fed beef and wild game had DIFFERENT fats than grain fed. Let’s cover that first and lets start with the fact that cows were meant to eat grass. It is only in our feed lot world that they are fed grains.
- Grass fed animals produce more omega 3 fats. Omega 3’s are the Health-FULL, ANTI-inflammatory fats. Nature doesn’t make many mistakes.
- Grass fed animals also produce more CLA – Conjugated Linoleic Acid. Studies have shown that CLA combats certain types of cancer (breast, colon, lung, skin, stomach), cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, high lipids, insulin resistance (a precursor to type 2 diabetes), inflammation, food allergies, and it has also been shown to preserve muscle tissue.
- Grain fed animals produce more omega 6 fats. In general, Omega ‘s Promote inflammation. Other Omega 6 oils include corn oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, and canola oil. We are now overloaded with these omega 6 fats in our diet….and it correlates with the high degree of inflammation driving chronic disease. Yes, no doubt disease is multi-factorial but one has to acknowledge that our diet has drastically changed in just 2 generations.
Choose GRASS fed.
Now, not that I’m an expert at this yet, but I’m headed there. I am going to render fat, just like my grandparents did.
Here’s a quick clarification of terms, if needed:
- Suet = beef OR sheep fat but specifically from the organ/kidney area
- Tallow = beef fat specifically from the organ/kidney area. Tallow is an “old-fashioned” fat that is a healthy alternative to vegetable shortenings and canola oil. The best part about tallow is that it’s stable at high temperatures, which means it’s superb for frying stuff! It IS a saturated fat meaning that it won’t go rancid easily. It’s why, in the old days, they could butcher an animal, render the fat, and have cooking oil for months. There was no canola/safflower/corn oil to speak of.
- Lard or leaf lard = pork fat. It also comes from the “soft” fat from around the kidneys and loin of the pig. It lacks any real pork or meaty flavor, making it an excellent neutral-flavored cooking fat with a high smoking point. Leaf lard is particularly prized by bakers for use in producing moist, flaky pie crusts.
Any suet/tallow/leaf lard can be tricky to track down. Some small butcher shops may sell it. Rendering your own is quite simple if you can find the fat but ensure it is “clean”. Toxins are stored in our fat. You won’t be doing yourself any favors by rendering factory farm fat.
If you want to know how to render fat, there are lots of videos on the internet. Basically, you take the fat, and you can cut it into pieces (cold works better) or shred it in a food processor (again cold works better). Then a crock pot comes in handy as you cook on LOW for hours. Don’t burn your fat! The bits of meat will “render” out and separate. Strain through a cheesecloth keeping the oil, store in glass jars, and use. I hear that homemade French fries are out of this world. McDonalds used rendered tallow until vegetarians voiced displeasure.
So, whether you’re ready to render fat or not, DO consider finding a local source of grass fed beef. And ask the folks who you locally buy your chicken eggs from (you DO do this right?) if they’d sell some chickens. The chicken meat on a layer may be tough but a crock pot will help and even if you just take the best meat but get some good old nutritive broth, you’re a step ahead in your health journey.
PS : Tallow is an excellent source of niacin, vitamins B6, B12, K2, selenium, iron, phosphorus, potassium and riboflavin. Grassfed beef tallow contains high ratio of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) which is a cancer-resistant agent. Contrary to the popular conception, tallow is good for health as tallow fat is similar to the fat/muscles in the heart. Recent studies have shown that human beings need at least 50% of saturated fats like tallow and lard to keep the heart pumping hard and healthy. Tallow from pasture-raised cows also contains a small amount of Vitamin D, similar to lard. Source: Beeftallow.com