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Is Cooking With Lard Healthy?

By Kathryn Vera

The American Heart Association recommends limiting fat to no more than 25 percent to 35 percent of total daily calories -- roughly 500 to 700 calories or between 56 and 77 grams of total fat per day for those on a 2,000 calorie-per-day diet. While cooking with lard can create tasty meals, you should do it sparingly to avoid taking in too much saturated fat.

About Lard

Lard is a type of pig fat available in both rendered and unrendered forms. While lard can be used for a number of purposes -- including as a base for soap and in certain types of biofuel -- it is most often used as an alternative to butter and other fats. In fact, its mild flavor, delicate texture and pleasing mouth feel make lard a popular choice for cooking and baking. In addition to being used as an ingredient in cookies, pie doughs, and other similar desserts, lard may be used to fry chips, french fries and some breaded meats.

Lard Nutrition

There are approximately 115 calories in one serving of lard, along with roughly 13 grams of total fat and 5 grams of saturated fat. Someone who follows a 2,000-calorie-per-day diet and eats just one serving of lard is consuming between 20 and 25 percent of the daily allowance of total fat and 33 percent of the daily allowance of saturated fat. Lard also contains about 6 grams of monounsaturated fat and 1.5 grams of polyunsaturated fat in a single serving.

Saturated Fat Basics

Saturated fat is a major part of the fat in lard. Regular consumption of saturated fats has been linked to serious chronic health conditions, including heart disease and breast, colon and ovarian cancers. In addition, the high calorie content in a single serving of lard means that it can lead to significant weight gain when eaten in excess. People with a body mass index -- BMI -- of greater than 25 may be at risk of developing hypertension, diabetes and certain types of dementia.

Cooking With Lard

The high number of calories, total fat and saturated fat in a single serving of lard means that it is not a healthy choice. While there is some unsaturated fat in a serving of lard, the amount is not high enough to negate the dangers associated with the saturated fats. Instead of cooking with lard, consider healthy fats like canola, walnut, flaxseed or soybean oil. While these are high in calories, they may reduce the risks posed by lard and other saturated fats.

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