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Who's Afraid of a Little Fat?

By: Dr. Al Sears, MDTallow

When I was little, my grandmother’s kitchen was the place to be on Sunday afternoons. That’s when she used to bake pies. She would trim the edges and I got to eat some of the delicious leftovers. Her crusts were second to none.

What was her secret? Homemade pig lard. Good old-fashioned lard is one of the most natural fats. In its unpolluted, unadulterated form it’s also one of the healthiest fats you can eat.

This goes against everything we’ve been told for fifty years. In fact, the diet dictocrats are doing everything they can to ban natural fat from your food because they say it causes heart disease.

Why would they do that? Because natural is not “proprietary.” By proprietary I mean something that they manufacture, patent, trademark, corner the market and sell it to you at a huge profit.

They do this with synthetic fat substitutes…but even before they created synthetic fats they were trying to tell you fat was bad for you. Because carbohydrates are easier to produce cheaply.

Fats in nature have a fixed cost. But carbohydrates…you can grow them in huge quantities, get the government to subsidize and pay you for growing them, and sell them for cheaper than dirt.

That’s what attracted the big food manufacturers to carbohydrate. For example, there’s only about 20 cents worth of wheat in a $4 box of Wheaties. A loaf of white bread has around 15 cents worth of wheat. Peanut butter has maybe 35 cents worth of peanuts.

With fat, it’s hard to make a 5,000% profit like you can selling a box of cereal.

It’s hard to keep perspective with such intense, widespread and effective marketing. I’ve devoted much of my professional career to this subject. I’ve read scores of books on nutrition, I’ve attended multiple conferences and I’m a certified clinical nutritionist. Yet their disinformation campaign is still overwhelming, even to me.

But before you start writing to me telling me how ignorant I am, Let me give you three reasons why telling you not to eat fat anymore is a bad idea. Then I’ll show you the best places to get the healthiest fats.

Reason 1: Fat is one of our three macronutrients.

You need this nutrient to give you energy, maintain your body temperature, transport nutrients, and build a faster brain.

Fat is so important that if your body senses you’re starving, it does everything it can to preserve your fat stores.

Reason 2: We eat less fat than our ancestors and our heart disease rates keep going up.

Reason 3: Saturated fats are a natural part of your diet and they don’t raise your risk of heart disease.

Take a look at the science that backs me up on this.

Contributors to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition did a review of 21 studies and found no evidence that eating less saturated fat lowers your risk of heart disease.(1)

In fact, one study found the opposite. It followed 235 women for over three years and the more saturated fat they ate, the less their arteries got clogged. The women who ate more processed fake fats had the worst progression of atherosclerosis, especially when eating carbs and a lot of high glycemic index foods.(2)

This was backed up by another study that found almost the exact same thing. More saturated fat meant less heart disease.(3)

I tell patients who come to my clinic that I recommend eating as many different natural foods as possible to get the widest variety of healthy fats. You should get at least 50% of your fat from saturated fats.

Here’s a chart I use to give you an idea of which foods have more of the “good” saturated and monounsaturated fats and which have man-made trans-fats:

Fat 1 TBS Saturated Fat (grams) Monounsaturated Fat (grams) Polyunsaturated Fat (grams) Trans Fats
Lard  5.0 5.8 1.4 0.0
Butter  7.2  3.3  0.5 0.0
Margarine (stick)  1.6  4.2  2.4 3.0
Vegetable Shortening  3.2  5.7  3.3 1.7
Olive Oil  1.8  10.0  1.2 0.0
Beef Tallow  6.4  5.4  0.5 0.0
Flaxseed Oil  1.3  2.5  10.2 0.0
Corn Oil  1.7  3.3  8.0 0.0

Also, remember:

  • If you want to try lard, you should get it from natural sources. The lard sold in most grocery stores is typically hydrogenated to give it a longer shelf life. It’s not the real stuff. One rule of thumb: If it’s not refrigerated, you don’t want it.
  • Other good food sources of healthy, natural fats are eggs and nuts.
  • Coconuts have two unique fats – lauric and cupric acid – that are among the heart-healthiest from any food.
  • Stearic acid, which is found in beef and pork, skinless chicken, olive oil, cheese, and chocolate, is one of many saturated fatty acids found in food. Other healthy fats include lauric, myristic and palmitic acids.


Editors Note:  Dr. Al Sears, M.D. is a board-certified clinical nutrition specialist. His practice, Dr. Sears' Health & Wellness Center in Royal Palm Beach, Fla., specializes in alternative medicine. He is the author of seven books in the fields of alternative medicine, anti-aging, and nutritional supplementation, including The Doctor's Heart Cure. To get his free special report on the proven anti-aging strategies for building a vibrant, disease-free life, go here now. You'll learn how to stop Father Time without giving up the foods you love.


1. Siri-Tarino P, Sun Q, Hu F, Krauss R. “Meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies evaluating the association of saturated fat with cardiovascular disease.” Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 Mar;91(3):535-46.
2. Mozaffarian D, Rimm E, Herrington D. “Dietary fats, carbohydrate, and progression of coronary atherosclerosis in postmenopausal women.” Am J Clin Nutr. 2004 Nov;80(5):1175-84.
3. Griel A, Kris-Etherton P. “Beyond saturated fat: the importance of the dietary fatty acid profile on cardiovascular disease.” Nutr Rev. 2006 May;64(5 Pt 1):257-62.


Excellent article by the great Dr. Sears. He is always on the level and almost always correct.
Posted @ Sunday, June 09, 2013 5:36 AM by Suzanne
I've been Paleo for several years now. I eat lots of coconut, grass-fed beef, healthy oils, nuts, etc. My wife keeps telling me all of that sat fat is bad for me. I showed her my recent bloodwork with tryglicerides at 44. I think I might finally be getting through to her. Of course, I'll be showing her this article as well.
Posted @ Sunday, June 09, 2013 7:43 AM by Sartre
I agree with Dr. Sears about the health benefits of eating the right fats. What I do not like is his vilification of the market. One of the biggest problems with diet in this country is the government food pyramid, which is awful. This has nothing to do with free markets. Get the government out of the economy - and education, and medicine, and people would be more likely to think for themselves and make better choices.
Posted @ Sunday, June 09, 2013 10:03 AM by Maryallene Otis
One of your commentators has crossed their eyes regarding "free markets" and the government. They are one and the same, and there is not a lot of "free" involved. When a Cargill, or Monsanto, or a four billion dollar pork company go to market, they grease the skids by paying to assemble a political body which is extremely responsive to giant agri-corp desires. Beyond the three R's, education is an extremely personal responsibility to which one must apply rigorous analysis, constant vetting of "facts" and a very jaundiced eye. There is no TRUTH, only an approximation assembled from a suite of contrarians, such as Dr. Sears.
Posted @ Sunday, June 09, 2013 11:48 AM by Danny Rambo
If there is no truth, Mr. Rambo, capitalized or not, that would include your comments.
Posted @ Sunday, June 09, 2013 12:46 PM by Maryallene Otis
Excellent article by Dr. Sears! I watched Dr. Neil Bernard on Dr. Oz the other day, lumping saturated fats and trans fats together as "bad" fats and talking about how horrible eating animal products are for humans - stunning! Meanwhile the man looks like he is suffering from sarcopenia! I agree with Dr. Sears' observations of just how the processed grain industry works. He was not vilifying the market. Watch the documentaries "King Corn" and "Food Inc." and you will understand that without gov't subsidies (example: U.S. Farm Bill), the entire corn and soy business and thus ALL the products that use them, would collapse. None of that would be possible without corporate lobbying and campaign contributions. It simply is what it is and that's all Dr. Sears is talking about.
Posted @ Sunday, June 09, 2013 2:32 PM by Amy
Not to mention the severe soil erosion and general environmental damage brought about by our huge mono-crop agriculture. And can we say GMO - ?? Almost all soy and corn crops are. I highly recommend the two documentaries mentioned and another called "Statin Nation" explaining how the scam of the Lipid Hypothesis continues to harm consumers and patients worldwide. 
I have increased my intake of the saturated fats Dr. S recommends and reduced carbohydrates. My health has improved, all the way out to my skin.
Posted @ Sunday, June 09, 2013 5:14 PM by LMP
Yes, I have seen Statin Nation - excellent film! Gary Taubes does a wonderful job in Good Calories, Bad Calories of explaining how flawed the science was that led to that hypothesis, which in turn led to what Dr. Sears wrote about here - gov't subsidized grain and soy industries - cheap carbs, HFCS, GMOs and worsening health for all who consume them! Good for you that you got off that merry-go-round and not surprisingly, your health improved! So did I!
Posted @ Sunday, June 09, 2013 8:04 PM by Amy
Great article Dr. Sears.
Posted @ Sunday, June 09, 2013 9:37 PM by Healthy Habit Homestead
In Dr. Sears' book The Omega-3 Effect, he vilifies lard (under his "Bad" fats guide ("Your Oil Change Guide") while including corn oil, and - yikes! - soy oil - and other vegetable oils under his "Better" section in relation to what he lists as "Best"; i.e., fish oil, flax, olive. YET, in this article, he mentions LARD as " of the healthiest fats you can eat." As an advocate of the Primal/Paleo lifestyle, I tend to notice these sorts of discrepancies and will continue to follow the recommendations of those I consider true "experts" in the field of nutrition, particularly the advocates of the Primal lifestyle where there seems to be far more consistency in advice and agreement that, for instance, animal fat (from, of course, grass-fed animals) is at the very least as important and essential as the mighty seafood Omega 3s (about which I fully concur). It's the experts who continue to contradict themselves that have so many folks scratching their heads when it comes to knowing what to eat anymore!
Posted @ Thursday, September 26, 2013 4:22 PM by Maggie
Well said, Maggie.
Posted @ Thursday, September 26, 2013 6:04 PM by Bob
I totally agree with what you had to say. They bash all these natural fats when really they should be looking at all their fake products. I personally refuse to buy margarine, I prefer the real thing. I do not see where the fake products that they say are so healthy really are. 
Also, grass fed beef really is not any healthier than grain fed beef, unless you like the different taste that grass feeding gives to fat. 
I do not get where people think that meat has so much added hormones, do they not realize that the vegetables they eat have way more estrogen naturally when compared to beef.  
I feel like all these subjects go hand in hand when talking about food and deciding what is healthiest for us.
Posted @ Tuesday, October 08, 2013 3:04 PM by Backroad Country Girl
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