Dr. Becky Maes - Is It Bad For You? Approved by Dr. Becky Maes

Is Lard Bad For You?



Short answer

Lard can be part of a balanced diet if used in moderation. Rich in monounsaturated fats, it's not the dietary demon once feared, but its high saturated fat content warrants caution. Overall, a diverse diet with varied fat sources is key to health, rather than excluding any single type.



Recommended Alternative

Long answer

Lard, the traditional fat long used in cooking, has been met with a mixture of emotions throughout the years. Its reputation has swung from being an essential household staple to being vilified in the light of health concerns. But what does the evidence say about lard? Is it the artery-clogging villain it was once made out to be, or does it deserve a place in a balanced diet?

Understanding Lard

To begin with, lard is a type of fat derived from the fatty parts of the pig. It gained a negative reputation during the latter part of the 20th century when a low-fat diet was heavily promoted for heart health. This shift saw lard being replaced with vegetable oils and synthetic fats like margarine. But recent research sheds new light on lard, and believe it or not, it is not the dietary demon we once thought it to be.

Composition of Lard

Lard is predominantly composed of monounsaturated fat, specifically oleic acid, which is also found in health-lauded olive oil. Approximately 45% of lard is monounsaturated fat, which has been shown to have beneficial effects on cholesterol levels, potentially reducing the risk of heart disease. However, let's not forget—is monounsaturated fat truly a hero if it's accompanying less desirable fats? Lard contains about 39% saturated fat and a minor amount of polyunsaturated fat. The saturated fat content is where the fear-mongering takes root, as excessive intake of saturated fats has been linked to increased levels of LDL cholesterol, which is associated with higher heart disease risk.

Health Risks and Misconceptions

The apprehension surrounding lard stems from these saturated fat figures. While it's true that moderation is key, casting lard out entirely might be an overreaction. A notable study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that when saturated fats were replaced with refined carbohydrates, there was no significant decrease in cardiovascular risk. But what happens when you replace them with healthier fats? That's where the substitution game changes—the risk tends to drop. This leads to the key takeaway: it's not only about reducing lard, but also about what you replace it with.

The Culinary Context

From a culinary perspective, lard has been a star in kitchens. It imparts a unique flavor and offers a high smoke point, making it ideal for frying and baking. While these methods of cooking can add to the appeal of food, they do not necessarily add to its nutritional value. Fried and baked foods, especially in the context of a Western diet, often equate to additional calories and potential for overindulgence, which itself is a pathway to poor health outcomes.

Balancing Benefits with Risks

So, is lard bad for you? The answer isn't a straightforward yes or no. If used in moderation and as part of a diet that's rich in fiber, fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and other healthy fats, lard can have a place on the plate. Studies indicate that a balanced approach to fats—incorporating a variety of sources—is more significant than the exclusion of one particular type. However, in a diet that's already high in saturated fat and low in essential nutrients, adding lard to the mix could exacerbate health risks.

The Moderation Message

Our diet should not be viewed through the narrow lens of single ingredients. Lard, like any other fat, is neither a superfood nor a silent killer—it is a facet of our dietary pattern that should be balanced with other food choices. The message is clear: moderation is key. Consume a wide array of nutrients, and if lard makes an occasional appearance in your dishes, it's unlikely to be the culprit of demise, provided the rest of your diet is in check.

Expert Opinions and Guidance

As with any dietary decision, consulting with a nutrition expert or a dietician can provide personalized advice based on individual health needs and goals. They can help dissect the fear mongering and focus on a realistic and healthy approach to including or excluding lard from your diet.

In conclusion, lard has been through a rollercoaster of reputation changes. While it need not be feared as it once was, it should still be consumed with a sense of caution. Balance and moderation are the hallmarks of healthy eating, and so is the case with the consumption of lard. Center your diet on whole, minimally processed foods, and lard will likely find its place, not as a central character but as an occasional guest in the story of your dietary journey.

Frequently asked questions

In moderation and within the context of a balanced diet rich in essential nutrients, lard can contribute to a healthy diet. Its monounsaturated fat content is beneficial for cholesterol levels. However, it's important to watch the intake of saturated fat and ensure that overall dietary choices support health.

Yes, the source of lard can affect its health impact. Lard from pasture-raised pigs that have a diet natural to them tends to have a more favorable fatty acid profile, including higher levels of omega-3 fats, compared to lard from conventionally raised pigs.

Lard is high in monounsaturated fats, similar to olive oil, and has a higher smoke point, making it good for frying and baking. It contains saturated fats, unlike some plant-based oils, so it's best consumed in less quantity than unsaturated fat sources like olive or canola oil.

Lard and butter have different flavor profiles and uses in cooking and baking. Lard is higher in monounsaturated fats and has a lower saturated fat content compared to butter, potentially making it a slightly healthier option in recipes that require solid fats.

Ask a question about Lard and our team will publish the answer as soon as possible.

Possible short-term side effects

  • nausea
  • weight gain
  • increased ldl cholesterol

Possible long-term side effects

  • heart disease
  • obesity
  • increased risk of cardiovascular disease

Ingredients to be aware of


  • beneficial effects on cholesterol levels
  • high smoke point for cooking

Healthier alternatives

Our Wellness Pick (what is this?)

Nutiva Organic Coconut Oil

  • Cold-pressed
  • Pleasant fresh flavor
  • Skincare and haircare versatility
  • Non-GMO
  • USDA Organic Certified
Learn More!

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Desmond Richard
Published on: 11-23-2023
Last updated: 12-15-2023

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Desmond Richard
Published on: 11-23-2023
Last updated: 12-15-2023

Random Page

Check These Out!