In an article titled the ‘Oiling of America’, Mary G Enig and Sally Fanon discuss the ills and odds involved in preferring the use of vegetable oils against harder tallow (animal fat) in cooking. They point out how the shift from tallow-cooking to processed vegetable oil cooking brought a phenomenal disastrous change in the health conditions of Americans.
The article briefs on how, with the dawn of the 20th century, the United States had to grapple with the sad truth of the growing number of coronary heart disease or CHD which caused more than 30% of deaths at that time. Similarly, Myocardial Infarction (MI) or a massive blood clot in the coronary artery leading to death, claimed more than 3000 deaths in 1930 and about 500,000 deaths in 1960. Scientists at that time were gripped by the devastating statistics of deaths, and wondered what caused such sudden changes in American lifestyles? They found out the truth to hidden in processed vegetable oils. Statistics pointed out that Americans were taking too much of items cooked in vegetable oils instead of the ones cooked with traditional butter, cheese, tallow or lard.
Truth about lipid hypothesis: A theory of lipid hypothesis said that saturated fat and cholesterol from animal fat raise cholesterol levels in the blood, leading to fatty deposits in the arteries and thereby, resulting in fatal conditions like atherosclerosis. This theory was popularized by Kritchevsky, a Russian who conducted cholesterol experiments with rabbits.
Though Kritchevsky’s theory was much publicized, there were several other theories which were less known: A 1955 report revealed that soldiers killed in Korean war showed high levels of atherosclerosis; a 1957 study proved that vegetarians in Bantu had atheroma in arteries just as their meat-eating, fellow people in South Africa; a 1960 study pointed that even the Japanese who take less animal fat were victims to atherosclerosis; in 1968, an International Atherosclerosis Project involving 22,000 corpses from 14 nations revealed varying degrees of atheroma in all parts of the world. The study revealed and concluded that animal fat had little role to play in atherosclerosis and lipid hypothesis was far from truth.
What’s wrong with vegetable oils? With established proof that atherosclerosis is not a condition associated with animal fat, let’s look into why vegetable oil is not so good for health. Vegetable oils are highly refined, processed, bleached and hydrogenated modern oils with little nutrients. One can spot this difference between processed and natural food by just analyzing between industry butter and grass-fed cow’s butter. The former looks pristine and lily-white but lacks in nutrients, the latter is yellowish and country-like but full of rich vitamins. Since tallow is made from grass-fed cows, it is rich in fat soluble vitamins like vitamin K2. Similarly, the carotene levels of tallow are higher compared to vegetable oils.
Why beef tallow for cooking? Apart from the above reasons, beef tallow has been in use from time immemorial. The traditional French fies made in tallow oil could prevent cavities and osteoporosis (since Vitamin K2 is great for bones and teeth). When people cooked with lard or tallow, cancer and heart attacks were unknown. The recent studies too prove that even the so-called fatty foods can be nourishing and healthy if cooked with the right kind of fat. This is why beef tallow is always much better for cooking than the highly-processed, nutrient-less empty vegetable oil.