Thursday, 17 February 2011

Fat fight: lard versus butter

Lard's been the bad boy of the fat family for some time. However, it's one of those largely misunderstood food products that's been given a lot of bad press over the years. Moreover, is an integral part of Mexican cuisine, adding a distinct flavour to many dishes that just wouldn't taste the same if made with any other type of fat.

So, is it much worse for you than other types of fat? While I wouldn't advise spreading it on your toast for breakfast every morning, it is a very versatile ingredient. It doesn't smoke much when cooking and lard's incomparable when making homemade pastry, adding a light, buttery flakiness that you just wouldn't get with anything else. With respect to it's health 'benefits', lard has 20% less saturated fat (gram for gram) than butter, is higher in mono-unsaturated fats (linked to lowering cholesterol) and one's of nature's best sources of Vitamin D according to a recent article on the Guardian website.

The Italians are a fan and there's even an annual festival in Colonnata (just north of Pisa) celebrating all things lardy.

So, the next time you see a recipe involving lard, don't go and substitute it with something long as you're not entertaining any vegetarians.

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