Beef liver: the original superfood

beef_liver

Beef liver has a long history as a traditionally valued food. Often eaten by traditional cultures as soon as practicable, even in preference over the muscle meat. In fact, some traditional cultures only consumed the organ meats, with the leaner muscle meats being often discarded or given to away to wolves / early dogs.

More recently, especially in Western cultures, organ meats like beef liver have fallen out of the regular rotation in favour of the leaner, more palatable muscle meats.

Most local butchers will stock beef liver, but you will probably need to ask as they keep most of the organ meats away from the public eye in cool rooms / freezers due to the limited sales. By comparison, the selection of muscle cuts from all animals is often more readily available for viewing and purchase. Organ meats like beef liver are actually very cheap when compared to the more popular cuts of muscle meat and pack a real bang for your buck when you consider the nutrient density. 

In fact, it’s one of the most nutritious foods on the planet.

Nutrition

A dense source of protein, vitamins and minerals critical to human performance packed into a single food source. Just a quick look at some of the key nutrients in 100 grams of beef liver paints a powerful picture:

  • Protein: 27 grams
  • Vitamin A: 26,091 IU | 522% DV
  • Vitamin B2: 3.4 mg | 201% DV
  • Vitamin B3: 17.5 mg | 87% DV
  • Vitamin B6: 1 mg | 51% DV
  • Vitamin B9 (folate): 260 mcg | 65% DV
  • Vitamin B12: 83.1 mcg | 1386% DV
  • Choline: 418 mg
  • Copper: 14.6 mg | 730% DV
  • Iron: 6.2 mg | 34% DV
  • Selenium: 32.8 mcg | 47%
  • Zinc: 5.2 mg | 35% DV

How to get more liver into the diet

Here are just a few ways to get more of this nutrient dense superfood into the diet:

  • Pan fried. Liver goes well when fried with onions;
  • Bolognese sauces. Liver and other organ meats can be chopped or minced and then mixed with regular ground beef and added to pasta or vegetable dishes;
  • Burger patties. As with Bolognese sauces, chop or mince organ meats and mix it with ground beef to make highly nutritious burgers.
  • Liverloaf. This is basically a meatloaf that is prepared with a mix of both beef and liver mince.

Why organ meats belong in your diet

Instant-Pot-Chicken-Liver-Onions

There a few foods that actually deserve the title of “superfood”. Liver, along with many other organ meats like kidneys and hearts are some of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet. 

Our bodies evolved to eat these foods and to draw nourishment and energy from them. We didn’t spend millennia gulping down multivitamins and sports supplements.

Once a popular and treasured food source, liver, along with other organ meats, have fallen out of favour as nutritional staples.

The reality is that our palates and routines have evolved far from some of the foods we most need for optimal health. Instead, people are chasing the regular sugar highs that come with more modern, overly processed and hyper palatable “foods”.

Organ meats have an excellent nutrient profile. High in protein and low in calories, some of the key nutrients that are important to optimal human function are found in organ meats such as liver, include:

  • Retinol. The active form of vitamin A, which is crucial for healthy skin, fertility and pregnancy, vision, and immune health;
  • Choline. Critical for DNA synthesis, brain function, and a healthy nervous system;
  • Iron. Another essential nutrient that helps carry oxygen around the body. The iron in liver is heme iron, the kind most easily absorbed by the body;
  • B12 and folate. These nutrients are crucial for methylation, which affects everything from gene expression to the production of neurotransmitters to detoxification;
  • Zinc and copper. Zinc and copper work together to influence immune function, metabolism, and the nervous system. A single serving of liver provides enough copper for an entire week.

Sadly, most people today don’t like the taste of liver, and beef kidneys and heart aren’t high on the list either.

How to get more organ meats into your diet
Here are a few ways to get more organ meats onto your plate:

  • Pan fried. Liver goes well when fried with onions;
  • Bolognese sauces. Liver and other organ meats can be chopped or minced and then mixed with regular ground beef and added to pasta or vegetable dishes;
  • Burger patties. As with Bolognese sauces, chop or mince organ meats and mix it with ground beef to make highly nutritious burgers;
  • Adding lots of spices. By adding lots of herbs and spices, you can use strong flavours to help disguise its taste.
  • Soaked in lemon juice. Prior to cooking will reduce the strong flavour.

The bottom line is that liver and other organ meats like kidneys and hearts are a greatly underrated food source. Naturally nutrient dense and low in calories, they make a truely valuable addition to any nutritional strategy.