Thinking of switching things up a bit in the kitchen?
We are going to examine the health benefits and uses of beef tallow in cooking.
Whether baking, frying or simply searing in a pan, tallow might just be what you were looking to cook with.
What Is Tallow?
Did you know tallow is found in skincare creams, cosmetics like lipsticks and foundations, cleansers, soaps, and much more? Ancient cultures prized it for its health benefits.
Tallow is just purified animal fat from the surrounding organs. The purification process of the fat is called rendering, and the name of the final product depends on the type of animal used. Beef or lamb make tallow. If you use pork fat, you end up with lard. Chicken or goose becomes schmaltz. And butter fat turns into ghee.
Although all these fats have their own set of benefits, the spotlight here is on beef tallow. Beef tallow is 50% saturated fat, 42% monounsaturated fat (like that found in olive oil), and only 4% polyunsaturated fat. It’s excellent to use in the kitchen precisely because of its high saturated fat content. When heated, it’s a liquid that’s a bright gold color. At room temperature, it’s hardened and changes to a soft cream color.
Current Thinking On Saturated Fats
Cardiovascular disease causes 1 in every 4 deaths in the United States and unhealthy levels of cholesterol are thought to be a leading cause. If your doctor sees you have high cholesterol, one of the first things he or she will tell you to cut is the saturated fats found naturally in animal fat, dairy, and some plant-based oils. Instead, your doctor will advise you to cook with highly unsaturated oils, like vegetable, canola, and safflower oil.
Other health organizations like the American Heart Association (AHA) and the USDA, also tell you eating saturated fats increase your risk of heart disease and stroke. The food pyramid advises you to cut down on these types of fats, and lumps them with sodium and added sugars as advice on food components to avoid.
Since authorities don’t mention any exceptions, it seems all saturated fats are unhealthy and everyone should avoid them like the plague.
But is that really the case? How did traditional, high-saturated fats like animal fats and tropical oils–like coconut oil and palm oil–get their bad rap?
Before 1920, heart disease was almost unheard of in America. By 1955 it had increased so much that it became the leading cause of death in the United States.
For one thing, the country decreased their use of traditional saturated animal fats by 20%, and reduced their butter intake from 18 lbs per person to 4 lbs per person. Also, during the last century, the amount of vegetable oil we use increased 400%, and sugar and processed foods increased 60%.
How Did Saturated Fats Get Blacklisted?
The further decline of saturated fats in kitchens across the county can be traced back to the researcher, Ancel Keys. In the 1950’s, he introduced his “Lipid Hypothesis” theory at the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva. It argued a direct relationship between saturated fats, cholesterol, and heart disease.
Organizations like the AHA and industries who stood to gain quickly embraced Keys’ theory. They promoted research supporting his hypothesis, and a few years later, Keys presented his Seven Countries Study. He received much publicity, even though numerous other researchers showed flaws in Keys’ data and conclusions.
But, recent findings suggest there is no evidence showing saturated fats cause heart disease.
In fact, traditional fats like beef tallow, provide a variety of benefits to the body because of their saturated fat content. They help your bones absorb calcium, protect your liver from toxins, and keep your cells functioning properly. They can also provide a variety of other benefits.
5 Impressive Perks Of Including Beef Tallow In Your Diet
If you have been cooking with lard, consider the following benefits:
1. Cell And Heart Health
We’re still too much in the dark about the health effects of highly polyunsaturated oils like canola, to promote it as an acceptable replacement for animal fats. This type of fat is easily oxidized when exposed to air and high temperatures. In cooking, polyunsaturated oils break down and form free radicals. That’s an even bigger problem because free radicals can damage molecules like your DNA. The damage leads to a host of health problems, including cancer.
On the other hand, beef tallow shines when it comes to high-heat use. It contains much less of the delicate polyunsaturated fat and has a smoke point of 420°F. It’s unlikely that it will start breaking down and forming free radicals during everyday cooking.
Saturated fats are also the preferred food of the heart and beef tallow is an excellent source. The heart draws on its surrounding fat in times of stress to help keep it functioning properly.
2. Fat Burner
We automatically link fats with gaining weight but beef tallow does just the opposite because of its high Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) content. This special fatty acid is a mighty fat burner and potent weight-loss agent. It’s especially true for grass-fed beef fat, which contains 2-3 times more CLA.
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed in a published study that participants who supplemented their diet with CLA lost 9% body fat in 1 year. Not bad considering they changed nothing else about their eating or exercise habits!
3. Cancer Fighter
Another benefit of CLA? Cancer fighter! Current research shows CLA is a cancer-fighting ninja for breast cancer, metastatic breast cancer, intestinal cancer, and bone cancer. In each of these cases, CLA shrunk tumors and decreased the total number of cancer cells. Not bad for an all natural fat!
4. Glowing Skin
Our bodies readily absorb tallow along with the vitamins A, D, K, and E within it promote skin cell health and regeneration. Vitamins A and D encourage cell and tissue growth and replacement. This creates firmer and more hydrated skin that forms a barrier against infection. Vitamin K heals wounds and minimizes stretch marks and spider veins. Vitamin E is actually an antioxidant that prevents free radical damage and slows down aging.
5. Immune System Booster
Saturated fats favorably raise cholesterol levels. Good cholesterol is essential to giving your body the building blocks it needs for a healthy immune system. And beef tallow has plenty of it! Cholesterol gives cells structure and stability, and saturated fats make up at least 50% of your cell membranes. This all allows your fighter cells to better communicate with each other when your body is under attack.
After fighting foreign invaders, cholesterol is a key substance in your body for restoring your immune system and repairing battle-torn cells. There are numerous studies linking high cholesterol levels with lower risks of infections. So, if you want to keep from getting sick, go ahead and add beef tallow to your diet anywhere you can!
Back To The Basics
Although saturated fats have been vilified for the last 70 years, the tides are changing. A sick world is desperately searching for answers to the many illnesses that plague us today. Many are going “back to the basics” and looking for answers in ancient and traditional diets. This includes diets like paleo, raw, vegan diets.
Easy switches in what you eat can make a big difference in your overall health. For lasting changes, it’s best to start small, like swapping your vegetable oil for beef tallow. With each shift, you’ll reap new benefits and be on your way to a healthier you!
Do you already cook with beef tallow? Are there other animal fats or tropical oils you like to use? What small dietary changes did you make that had a big impact on the way you look and feel? Share your comments below!