LIVER: Love it? Hate it? You should eat it.
By Katelyn Daugherty, MS, CNS-c
Liver is a food that we love to hate. I will admit it is an acquired taste. If you’re under age 45 and raised on the Standard American Diet, you may never even have tasted liver!
However, it is one of those foods that truly deserves the “superfood” designation. In fact, I would apply that label to all organ meats. By weight, organs have more nutrients than any other food. It is worth learning to cook, eat, and enjoy liver for your health!
When we start to consume foods nose-to-tail (meaning the muscle meat, the collagen, the marrow, and all the things in between) we get deep nutrition without sticking to a dogma (..low fat?..high fat?..).
In a comparison to muscle meat (think: ground beef or steak), organ meat has 10 to 100 times the vitamins and minerals. Yes, even Grass-fed beef pales in comparison:
Liver is an essential source of Vitamin B12, Vitamin A, Iron, Folate, Copper, Biotin, and Selenium. PLUS it’s highly bioavailable! (Unlike synthetic B-vitamins used to fortify foods/drinks)
In just one 2 oz. serving of liver, you will get:
356% of your RDA of Vitamin A
112% of Vitamin B2
36% of Folate
658% of Vitamin B12
20% of Iron
400% of Copper
28% of Selenium
20% of Zinc
238mg of Choline
That’s superior to even our most nutritionally powerful plants! (Sorry, Kale!)
WHAT ABOUT TOXINS?
YES, It seems odd that we would consume liver considering the liver’s main job is to "filter" toxins. Wouldn’t eating liver be dangerous if we are taking in all those toxins? Good news: the liver doesn’t store toxins. Those that aren’t released are stored in adipose (fat) tissue.
*Note that the liver doesn't actually filter toxins, it biotransforms them via methylation, sulfation, glucoronidation, or other pathways
However, it is still a good idea to consider the health of the animal that you are consuming. Those who are pasture raised and humanely harvested will have healthier organs. Look for an animal fed organic food and/or raised outdoors on grass. After all: YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT EATS.
A good goal is consuming 4oz. Of organ meat per week. (That’s two 2-oz servings).
More is not better. As stated, liver has extremely high levels of Vitamin A. When we take in too much vitamin A, we create a state of hypervitaminosis that presents with similar symptoms to deficiency. (yikes!)
HOW DO I EAT IT?
Blend it in. Northstar bison makes this the easiest yet. I love their “Bison Blend” and “Beef Blend” which uses 75% muscle + 12.5% liver + 12.5% heart per pound. That’s a solid dose of 4oz. Of organ meats. If you can replace one pound of ground beef per week with an organ blend you’re doing great! >> See an unboxing of Northstar Bison here <<
*I like to use beef blend for tacos, meatloafs and stews. Any dish with a high spice content to mask flavor. The ratio is perfect to where you don’t detect the organ meats when cooked and seasoned!
2. Learn to cook Liver. You can find plain liver and organ meats at your local butcher, grocery store,
and farmer’s market*. Pre-treatment (soaking), temperature, and how long you cook it will have a
major impact on the palatability. *Prioritize organic, local, pasture-raised liver!
3. Use a recipe. There are a number of creative ways to use organ meats. From sautés filled with
bacon and onions to a basic liver pate. Here are a few to get you started:
-Bacon-Beef Liver Pate by Autoimmune Wellness
-Easy Chicken Liver Pate by Balanced Bites
-Liver with fig, bacon, caramelized onion compote by The Healthy Foodie
-Tex-Mex Liver Casserole by Whole Body Living
-Chicken Livers with Grapes by Offally Good Cooking
-Warm Liver and Toasted Cashew Salad by The Healthy Foodie
-Moroccan Stew with Beef Heart and Apricots by The Nourished Caveman
4. Frozen Liver Cubes a la Empowered Sustenance. I’ve used this method myself, and it is the most
convenient way to hit my liver quota when I’m not cooking a ground blend.
Rinse and dry liver. Carefully cut into pill-sized chunks. Place the peices on a parchment lined- sheet and freeze until solid. Transfer to an air-tight container. FREEZE FOR 14 DAYS BEFORE CONSUMING (to decrease pathogens).
I’m a big fan of food-first for maintaining proper vitamin and mineral status. However, if you just can’t stomach liver—don’t fret. You can still get the most important nutrients with a well-rounded diet including leafy greens, grass-fed meat and/or wild-caught fish, organic poultry, healthy fats, and colorful fruits and vegetables.
If you’re interested in adding liver to your routine, try out some of my tips to make consuming it actually enjoyable!
Do you enjoy liver? Any tips or recommendations that you have for me? Please share in the comments below!