Tallow: An Ancient Saturated Fat Making a Comeback

Tallow: An Ancient Saturated Fat Making a Comeback

Tallow is rendered fat from ruminant animals such as bison, sheep and beef. This saturated fat has traditionally been used in cooking,  soaps, candles and skincare for centuries, with records of its use dating back to the ancient civilizations of Egyptians, Romans and Greeks. 

Tallow has been used traditionally in North America as well. Indigenous people used this saturated fat from bison in pemmican, a high energy food consisting of animal fat, dried meat and berries. These cultures honored every part of the animal who had given its life, from the bones, to the organs and hide. The Indigenous peoples knew the value of each part of the animal and didn't have the luxury of wasting certain parts, as we do today.  

It wasn’t until modern times and the movement against saturated fats that tallow became vilified. In the beginning of the 20th century, Crisco was introduced and was marketed as a healthier option in comparison to animal fats.  Ancel Keys; an American Scientist created a theory linking high serum cholesterol levels and saturated fats in the 1950’s. Over time his theory was adopted by the American Heart Association as well as the U.S. federal government. Did you know McDonalds used tallow in their fryers up until the 1990’s? Around that time, the concern over saturated fat consumption was at an all time high and the fast food giant ultimately switched to “heart healthy” vegetable oils. Finally, now the narrative is again flipping and we are understanding that industrial seed oils are not actually a healthy source of fats. And interestingly, modern science has shown us there is no link between saturated fat consumption and coronary heart disease or heart attacks. 

Tallow was commonly found in skincare in the 19th century and leading into the 20th until it was replaced by products created with synthetic ingredients with a longer shelf life. Recently, there has been a resurgence of tallow usage in the skincare world as we start to see people embracing using the whole animal and moving away from synthetic products. 

The history of tallow spans centuries and has been vilified numerous times. Modern society is once again beginning to embrace this saturated fat for its multiple uses and innumerable benefits. 

**This blog post is purely for personal use only and is not medical advice or personal health advice, rather the opinions and research of the writer.

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