20080925-butter.jpgIn Salon's interview with Jennifer McLagan, author of the recently released Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, With Recipes, learn more about the controversial ingredient that is fundamental to flavor and to our health. She answers questions about animal fat and its relation to obesity, America's bad relationship with fat, and how animal fat lost the popularity contest to vegetable-based man-made fats. But most importantly, why is it better to eat and cook with animal fat than vegetable fat?

Unlike vegetable oils, animal fats are very stable and don't turn rancid easily. This makes them ideal for cooking, which involves heating the fat. And they have no trans fats.

Animal fats have lots of good fatty acids that fight disease, help absorb vitamins and lower cholesterol. Your body burns the short-chained fatty acids found in animal fats and stores the long-chained ones found in polyunsaturated fat. It is a myth that eating animal fat makes you fat.

But best of all, fat—with its big round molecules—tastes good, it feels good in your mouth, on your tongue and it carries flavors.

Not that I needed convincing, but it's good to know.

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