If you are wondering if liver is a superfood, you can rest assured that it is. In this post, learn about how eating organ meats like liver is far superior to most foods that people eat in modern times.
In today’s world, most foods in the meat aisle are strangely uniform in shape and size. Chicken meat packages have tidily been placed in plastic with all fat removed. They don’t look at all like…chicken.
Most often, only two options are available for chicken: chicken breasts and thighs. These uniform meats, while appearing antiseptic, are pale and to be frank, are lacking compared to organ meats like liver.
Not only are they antiseptic, but they are also lower in nutrients because they have been stripped of them.
In comparison to these uniform meats, the benefits of liver shine.
Table of Contents
Liver Superfood: Nutrient-Dense
Contrary to popular opinion, eating liver is not unhealthy. It is, in fact, a superfood. Beef liver benefits the body because it is the most nutritious food on the planet.
When you eat liver, you are eating the nutrient storage center of foods. For this reason, the liver is the most nutrient-dense food on the planet. No other food can compare.
And we have been throwing it away for so long.
Nutrients in liver
Per 100 grams, or around 4 ounces, the liver contains:
- Protein 27 g
- Iron 13 mg (70% DV for adult women)
- Zinc: 4 mg (36%DV)
- Vitamin B12: 21 mcg (800% DV)
- Vitamin A 4300 RAE (400% DV)
- Folate 560 mcg (100% DV)
- Vitamin B6: 0.8 mg (60% DV)
- CoenzymeQ10: 5-6 mg
- DNA and RNA building blocks
These nutrients in the liver are at least double, if not triple, the amount of any comparable foods.
Myth: Liver has toxic amounts of vitamin A.
This is false. Even though liver contains a lot of vitamin A, getting vitamin A toxicity from eating liver is exceedingly rare. However, you can get vitamin A toxicity from supplements because nutrients aren’t great in isolation.
In contrast, the toxicity of vitamin A from eating liver is an extremely rare occurrence and happens if people are supplementing high doses of retinol in addition to eating liver.
Additionally, the liver is a perfect food for women of childbearing age and for those with blood loss (also women). Women with periods lose many nutrients and even run low in vitamin A and iron. It is perfectly safe to eat moderate amounts of liver for women in this age group.
Nutrients vary slightly from chicken, beef, goose, and duck liver. But, they all are nutrition powerhouses.
Many people claim that eating liver has changed their lives. It takes away their pain, fatigue, and more. Perhaps they have been deficient in nutrients for a very long time and eating liver restores health because of this.
Eating liver changed my life: I know I feel great since I’ve added it to my daily routine. Beef liver benefits the whole body for many people.
Liver Superfood: An Amazing Source of Iron
About half of women during childbearing ages are deficient in iron despite eating a varied diet.
You may need to worry about iron deficiency too and may not know it. Are you tired all of the time or irritable? These are signs of iron deficiency and you may need more iron-rich foods like liver.
Liver contains more iron than any readily available food on the market today. With 13 mg of iron per 4 oz, liver is the best source of iron, second only to other organ meats like the heart and spleen.
Myth: To get enough iron, you can eat a bunch of spinach.
No, you can’t just eat a bunch of spinach or a burger to get enough iron if you have iron deficiency. Read my previous blog on myths about iron here. Most people need iron from food sources like beef liver, chicken liver, or iron supplements.
For my iron deficiency, I was taking an increased dose of gentle iron (ferrous gluconate) and I felt great. More energy, less pain, and no side effects.
And then, one day, it happened. My belly started refusing iron supplements. It got nauseating and painful each and every time I tried to take my iron.
I’ve always had low ferritin, which is the storage form of iron. I needed some great sources of iron from natural foods. Skipping it isn’t an option for my health. So I turned to eating liver and taking desiccated liver.
Are you female and having periods? This likely means you could be deficient in iron as well. Find out how to test for an iron deficiency from Jeanette Kimszal, RD. She’s an expert in micronutrient testing.
How Much Iron in Liver?
The liver contains a lot of iron, but some people are squeamish at the thought of eating it. Let’s get over ourselves (this includes me) and remember to honor what nature gives us.
Chicken liver, by weight, has more iron than almost any food on the planet. It has 13 mg per 100 grams. In contrast, spinach has 3 mg per 100 grams. Only 0.35 mg of iron from spinach is absorbed due to plant anti-nutrients.
I needed to change my daily habits to open my idea to eat more liver, but now there is no turning back. We simply may need liver in our diets to be healthier.
Eating liver doesn’t have to be gross, and it isn’t unhealthy, contrary to popular misconceptions.
Is Liver Superfood? Sustainability
Reverse the time clock by 150 years. Hunters would eat the liver at the hunting site, both honoring the animal and deeply nourishing their bodies.
Nothing from the precious hunt was thrown away. This both honored the animal and was important as fuel and nutrition for the hunter or huntress.
What happens to the rest of the chicken or beef in the grocery store? What happens to the misshapen apples for that matter? Why do we, as a society, throw away a huge majority of foods, including liver, for no good reason, and perhaps even throw away the most nutritious ones?
Can we both be sustainable and MORE healthy by eating the rest of the food? The answer is undoubtedly yes.
Sustainable eating trends are moving towards this, but grocery stores have a long way to go. The good news is you can ask your butcher to give you many other options. Just make sure to choose grass-fed beef liver, which is raised humanely and in a sustainable way.
How Much Food is Wasted?
According to recent data, 150,000 tons of food are wasted EACH DAY in the United States. or a pound of food per person per day.
That’s around 300 billion pounds of food. per year. This estimate sounds really conservative too [R].
Let’s talk about organ meats, particularly the liver. This is a common cast-off food, which is a total shame.
The Myth of Toxins in Liver
People worry about eating liver because it is the body’s toxin filter. True. The good news, though, is that the liver doesn’t store these toxins. It cleans the body of toxins, along with the intestines and more, making them non-toxic.
If you are wondering where toxins are stored, they are in the fat tissue of animals. Examples of where it is stored include breast tissue, belly fat, and the brain.
Liver Superfood: Rich in Enzymes
Liver has enzymes that clear out these toxins or neutralize them.
Filters in the liver are enzymes, which may have some potent health benefits for you when you eat them. In contrast, a steak doesn’t have these enzymes.
Contrary to popular opinion, eating liver has never been shown to increase heart disease risk [R]. However, chemicals in processed liver like liverwurst can, so it is best to eat liver when it is fresh for freeze-dried naturally.
Liver Superfood: Can Taste Great
Yes, liver CAN taste great. There are many cooking techniques that make it more delicious than a rib steak.
You can saute and grill liver. Marinate in flavorful spices, especially garlic. Liver is fantastic as pate.
For making liver fit easily into your diet, you can mix ground liver into meatballs, meat sauces, meatloaf, stuffing, soups, and just about any dish. You probably won’t even notice it is there.
If you want to know how to make liver taste good, visit Weston’s Price’s fascinating information about the liver. You can find some amazing recipes here as well.
You Can Supplement Liver Pills
As much as I can extol the health benefits of liver as a superfood, it may never fit your taste palate. There are liver supplements out there for you.
You can find countless brands on the market. Some are desiccated (fat removed), and some are not. Desiccation can mean that some nutrients are taken out too. Some chemicals are used in the desiccation process.
It’s best to do your research here. Find liver from grass-fed, chemical-free animals, just as you would want to do if you are eating it. Learn all about liver supplements here.
Do your homework. It is well worth your time to get your nutrients in a natural way whenever possible.
Side Effects of Eating Liver
For those people who have iron overload, you need to avoid eating liver. Also, be mindful of iron everywhere, not just in the liver.
Otherwise, there are no known side effects of eating liver if you eat a moderate portion regularly.
A couple of common-sense points about eating liver: buy liver from animals that are grass-fed exclusively (for beef). Also, make sure that they don’t have chemicals and pesticides in their feed.
Raw Liver Supplements
Many people claim that the RAW version of liver supplements helps them feel the best. No science can back this up, but boundless testimonials do say this.
Some people even dice up the raw liver and put it in capsules if they want the benefits of knowing where the liver comes from. This could be a big benefit.
Logic says that raw liver is even healthier for the body because it contains active enzymes. Additionally, raw liver contains more B vitamins than cooked liver. However, a small risk of food-borne illness could occur if you eat raw liver.
Just remember that raw liver has been eaten forever, just like raw fish is eaten on sushi. So, if you do choose to eat raw liver, quality matters.
- Liver is nutrient-dense. It’s a great way to get extra iron, vitamins, and minerals in your diet.
- If you are not able to tolerate iron supplements, liver supplements are a great option that is easy on your stomach. It is a better first option than buying iron alone due to the numerous other nutrients you get.
- Choosing to eat liver may boost your energy and mood by replacing nutrients in your diet.
- Experiment with cooking methods that you like.
- Always choose livers from animals raised in healthy conditions.
- Make sure to check your iron levels with your doctor. The best test in your blood is called ferritin.
Heidi Moretti, MS, RD is The Healthy RD. A registered dietitian for 23 years as well as a book author of the new book Gut Fix and The Whole Body Guide to Gut Health, Heidi has a passion for functional nutrition and natural medicine. She has researched supplements and natural medicine throughout her career. One of her biggest loves is helping people gain function and vitality by tackling the root causes of illness.