If you are not already on board with organ meats and offal…listen up!
Nose to tail eating is an important yet underrated philosophy that can be easily incorporated into our lives without much extra work. I have written a more comprehensive article about offal and why organ meats should be the most prized parts here.
Out of all the organ meats and “odd bits”, liver is the one that packs the most nutrition. If you can only eat one organ meat, this is the one to try.
Compared ounce for ounce, liver is the most nutritional organ meat on the planet. Some say the most nutritional food bar none.
“Liver has ranked above all other offal as one of the most prized culinary delights. Its heritage is illustrious–whether savored by young warriors after a kill or mixed with truffles and cognac for fine patés de foie gras.” Margaret Gin and Jana Allen, Innards and Other Variety Meats (San Francisco, 1974)
Why Eat Liver?
In summary, liver provides:
- An excellent source of high-quality protein
- A concentrated source of vitamin A
- All the B vitamins, noticeably vitamin B12
- Carnitine and lipoic acid
- Levels of folate and choline
- Minerals such as phosphorous, potassium, and iron
- Trace elements such as copper, zinc and magnesium
- CoQ10, a nutrient that is especially important for cardio-vascular function
There is a great chart here comparing the nutritional breakdown between beef, lamb, veal, chicken, duck, goose, and turkey livers.
Liver is one of the richest sources of Vitamin A1 which serves a vital role in many bodily functions:
Vitamin A has traditionally been understood to promote healthy vision, promote healthy fertility in males and females, and allow for proper embryonic development.
More recently, researchers have found vitamin A to be important to many other processes. These include preventing childhood mortality,1 preventing childhood asthma,2, 3 promoting pubertal development4 protecting against oxidative stress,5 protecting against environmental toxins,6preventing kidney stones,7 regulating the amount of fat tissue in the body,8 regulating blood sugar,9and protecting against fatty liver disease.10Almost one third (27 percent) of Americans surveyed in the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey had vitamin A intakes below 50 percent of the RDA.11
Even the RDA may be too low — we still do not know what the optimal intake of vitamin A is, especially with respect to its more newly discovered roles.
Read this list of 10 health benefits of chicken livers that covers the 10 most abundant nutrients found in chicken liver and how they affect the body.
Take a quick look and get excited for this superfood that promotes superhealth!
Is Liver Safe?
When I first read about the benefits of eating liver, one of my first thoughts was “isn’t the liver where all the toxins go?”
The Weston A Price Foundation has this to say2:
One of the roles of the liver is to neutralize toxins (such as drugs, chemical agents and poisons); but the liver does not store toxins. Poisonous compounds that the body cannot neutralize and eliminate are likely to lodge in the fatty tissues and the nervous system. The liver is not a storage organ for toxins but it is a storage organ for many important nutrients (vitamins A, D, E, K, B12 and folic acid, and minerals such as copper and iron). These nutrients provide the body with some of the tools it needs to get rid of toxins.
Of course, we should consume liver from healthy animals–cattle, lamb, buffalo, hogs, chickens, turkeys, ducks and geese. The best choice is liver from animals that spend their lives outdoors and on pasture. If such a premier food is not available, the next choice is organic chicken, beef and calves liver.
What to do with liver?
The Liver Files – scroll down to “Some Favorite Ways to Eat Liver”
Browse through my collection of nose-to-tail recipes on Pinterest.
Where to buy liver?
- Call your local butchers in Whole Foods and local grocers, ask for grass-fed beef (or any game meat) liver or free-range chicken livers.
- Visit farmer’s markets to find a local source.
- Look up your area on EatWild and find a local listing.
- All else fails, you can shop online and have your organ meats delivered frozen to your door.
I find organ meats are generally more affordable than steaks, ribs and other more well known cuts. In some cases, our clients have sourced offal from a local supplier for free! Depending where you live it may take a little digging to find a trustworthy source but it is well worth it.