At the beginning of the 19th century, Americans largely embraced vegetable oils (soybean oil, corn oil, etc., along with Crisco, margarine, etc.), due to mass propaganda from "experts." Heart disease, etc., soon became widespread. Near the end of the century, the tide turned against trans-fats like margarine, vegetable shortening, etc. After a century of cover-ups, and so many lives cut short, many are re-examining fats. In recent years, lard (pork fat) has been in the headlines as a healthy alternative. Is this a good thing?
From a Bible-health perspective, pork grease is unclean. Noah knew what animals were clean and unclean in the first book of the Bible, long before the Mosaic law (Genesis 7). Likewise, the last book of the Bible reveals that unclean animals were still unclean at the end of the first century (Revelation 16:13; 18:2; Isaiah 13:20; 50:39). False Bible translations help further the myth that the Lord Jesus turned unclean flesh into clean flesh in the Gospel of Mark. Like the vulture or rat, the pig is not a creature that God designed for people to eat. It is not sanctified by the word of God. And since toxins are stored in external fat, those who eat pig grease are ingesting an extra dose of uncleanness!
Often, people place butter and coconut oil in the same category as lard. In the Bible, butter and other dairy products are seen as healthy blessings (Deuteronomy 32, Isaiah 7, etc.). Many modern researchers like to divide things into man-made categories based on shared characteristics. Thus, in their minds saturated fats are lumped together. Some birds can mimic human speech. But birds and humans are not the same. This is the same mistake that many made about sugars. Yet, when researchers created honey in the lab based upon the "correct" amounts of glucose, sucrose and fructose, they found that it lacked the healthy, plaque-inhibiting properties of natural honey! All sugars are not the same. And all fats are not the same!
There was a time when many nutritionists were even despising olive oil. It is therefore good to see a return to raw, natural, chemical-free dairy and butter, and olive and coconut oils. The problem is that lard is being placed in the same category as the above, healthy fats.
Another reason many are re-turning to lard is the romantic idea that some have about ancient cultures. It is true that earlier cultures were free from many of the curses of the modern chemical-age. But this does not mean that they were always wise in what they ate. A Biblical perspective will benefit us greatly in evaluating ancient or early cultures.
For example, God called His people to live and eat in a different manner than the Canaanites, Egyptians, etc. And notice what He says about the health of these Egyptians:
Deuteronomy 7:15 And the LORD will take away from thee all sickness, and will put none of the evil diseases of Egypt, which thou knowest, upon thee; but will lay them upon all them that hate thee.
Deuteronomy 28:27 The LORD will smite thee with the botch of Egypt, and with the emerods, and with the scab, and with the itch, whereof thou canst not be healed.
Modern researchers have discovered that the ancient Egyptians suffered from many of the diseases that afflict modern Americans. Most of the Egyptian royalty were very obese! They were also known for the regular use of pig fat in the diet and in cosmetics (e.g., http://swansea205.rssing.com/browser.php?indx=14740612&item=88).
There is a great deal of controversy concerning whether lard is linked to heart disease. One verse in the Bible is interesting in light of the debate:
Psalms 119:70 Their heart is as fat as grease; but I delight in thy law.
Although these words primarily refer to the puffed-up, hardened, spiritual state of the wicked, there may be a secondary, physical application (Job 15:27, Psalms 17:10).
There are other concerns with lard. It has been linked to thyroid dysfunction and impaired cognitive performance:
"Dietary high-fat lard intake induces thyroid dysfunction and abnormal morphology in rats…The high-fat lard diet significantly increased triglyceride levels in both the serum and thyroid, and decreased serum TT4 and FT4 levels in parallel with elevated serum TSH levels…Dietary high-fat lard intake induces significant thyroid dysfunction and abnormal morphology in rats, which cannot be corrected by short-term dietary modification…in the early 1990s, dietary fat overabundance was reported to interfere with the endocrine system…Thyroid diseases, especially hypothyroidism characteristic of thyroid dysfunction, have reached epidemic proportions worldwide, although the reasons for the increased prevalence of these diseases remain unclear…the rats in the HF group gained significantly more weight…Short-term withdrawal of high-fat lard intake makes little improvement in thyroid function…Lard is one of the most widely consumed foods rich in saturated fatty acids, and it is often chosen to observe the deleterious effects of a high-fat diet…[e.g., 'A high-fat-diet-induced cognitive deficit in rats that is not prevented by improving insulin sensitivity with metformin'…Diabetologia. 2012 Nov]...In conclusion, we demonstrated that long term high-fat lard feeding could dramatically decrease the levels of TT4 and FT4, increase the concentration of TSH in the serum, affect the structure of the thyroid gland, and down-regulate the protein expression of thyroid hormone synthesis-related molecules."
(Acta Pharmacol Sin. 2014 Nov; 35)
"The high fat diet (HFD) rich in lard induces obesity, inflammation and oxidative stress, and the deregulation of hypothalamic nuclei plays an important role in this mechanism...We also observed that HFD rich in lard, unlike HFD rich in fish oil, affects the insulin, leptin and adiponectin levels."
(Front. Cell. Neurosci., 09 June 2016)
Lard has been linked to impaired judgment in regard to appetite-control.
The Biblical-health perspective avoids the mistakes on both sides of the debate. It approves of butter; but it does not condone lard or vegetable oils (soybean, corn, safflower, canola, sunflower, etc.). These fragile oils have often been heated and then "sealed" in a bag, and left to sit on a store shelf for weeks, becoming rancid and even more toxic. They are also usually used by restaurants for frying, and the old oil is continually reheated to save money. This toxic oil is linked to numerous diseases and afflictions. These vegetable oils already have problems. Reheating them, etc., only pours gas on the fire.
This brings us to the question of beef tallow. Since this fat is from a clean animal, intended for food (unlike swine), is it therefore healthy to use for cooking, etc.? The Bible ordains olive oil and butter. It speaks of palm trees in a good light. Yet, it expressly prohibits eating the external fat of clean animals, such as cattle, sheep and goats:
Leviticus 3:16 And the priest shall burn them upon the altar: it is the food of the offering made by fire for a sweet savour: all the fat is the LORD'S.
17 It shall be a perpetual statute for your generations throughout all your dwellings, that ye eat neither fat nor blood.
The word "fat" in this verse does not refer to olive oil, dairy, or even the fat that is within the flesh. It refers to the fat that may be cut away and removed from the meat:
Leviticus 7:23 Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, Ye shall eat no manner of fat, of ox, or of sheep, or of goat.
The majority of animals eaten were grass-fed. Grain-fatted calves were indeed eaten, but not as often as pasture-fed cattle, or in as great a proportion of the diet (Luke 15; 1 Kings 4:23).
And, of course, the grain-fed cattle were not fed with soybeans; newspapers; chicken manure; pig blood; hormones; antibiotics; candy waste; or pesticide-laden, GMO grains!
The Biblical way to eat meat is by draining the blood and trimming the external fat as much as possible.
In the Bible, meat-eating is not seen as something unhealthy, or something to be ashamed of - as long as the blood and external fat have been removed, and the animals are clean and properly raised.
Gluttony is indeed condemned in regard to flesh (Proverbs 23:20); but it is also condemned in regard to honey (Proverbs 25:27), or any food or drink (Luke 21:34, Proverbs 23:21).
Many researchers believe that thyroid dysfunction is a greater problem than many realize. It affects male testosterone levels, fertility, metabolism, energy, and practically every system of the body. It is therefore crucial that we pay close attention to what kinds of oils or fats we are ingesting daily. This is a major key to good health that is often neglected.