Liver: nature’s most potent superfood

liver

Conventional dietary wisdom holds that the micronutrients (vitamins, minerals and trace elements) we need from foods are most highly concentrated in fruits and vegetables. While it’s true that fresh fruits and veggies are full of vitamins and minerals, their micronutrient content doesn’t always hold up to what is found in meats and organ meats – especially liver.

The chart below lists the micronutrient content of apples, carrots, red meat and beef liver. Note that every nutrient in red meat except for vitamin C surpasses those in apples and carrots, and every nutrient—including vitamin C—in beef liver occurs in exceedingly higher levels in beef liver compared to apple and carrots. In general, organ meats are between 10 and 100 times higher in nutrients than corresponding muscle meats. (That said, fruits and vegetables are rich in phytonutrients like flavonoids and polyphenols that aren’t found in high concentrations in meats and organ meats, so fresh produce should always be a significant part of your diet.)

In fact, you might be surprised to learn that in some traditional cultures, only the organ meats were consumed. The lean muscle meats, which are what we mostly eat in the U.S. today, were discarded or perhaps given to the dogs.

A popular objection to eating liver is the belief that the liver is a storage organ for toxins in the body. While it is true that one of the liver’s role is to neutralize toxins (such as drugs, chemical agents and poisons), it does not store these toxins. Toxins the body cannot eliminate are likely to accumulate in the body’s fatty tissues and nervous systems. On the other hand, the liver is a 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.

Remember that it is essential to eat meat and organ meats from animals that have been raised on fresh pasture without hormones, antibiotics or commercial feed. Pasture-raised animal products are much higher in nutrients than animal products that come from commercial feedlots. For example, meat from pasture-raised animals has 2-4 times more omega-3 fatty acids than meat from commercially-raised animals. And pasture-raised eggs have been shown to contain up to 19 times more omega-3 fatty acids than supermarket eggs! In addition to these nutritional advantages, pasture-raised animal products benefit farmers, local communities and the environment.

For more information on the incredible nutritional benefits of liver and some suggestions for how to prepare it, click here.

APPLE (100 g) CARROTS (100 g) RED MEAT (100 g) BEEF LIVER (100 g)
Calcium 3.0 mg 3.3 mg 11.0 mg 11.0 mg
Phosphorus 6.0 mg 31.0 mg 140.0 mg 476.0 mg
Magnesium 4.8 mg 6.2 mg 15.0 mg 18.0 mg
Potassium 139.0 mg 222.0 mg 370.0 mg 380.0 mg
Iron .1 mg .6 mg 3.3 mg 8.8 mg
Zinc .05 mg .3 mg 4.4 mg 4.0 mg
Copper .04 mg .08 mg .18 mg 12.0 mg
Vitamin A None None 40 IU 53,400 IU
Vitamin D None None Trace 19 IU
Vitamin E .37 mg .11 mg 1.7 mg .63 mg
Vitamin C 7.0 mg 6.0 mg None 27.0 mg
Thiamin .03 mg .05 mg .05 mg .26 mg
Riboflavin .02 mg .05 mg .20 mg 4.19 mg
Niacin .10 mg .60 mg 4.0 mg 16.5 mg
Pantothenic Acid .11 mg .19 mg .42 mg 8.8 mg
Vitamin B6 .03 mg .10 mg .07 mg .73 mg
Folic Acid 8.0 mcg 24.0 mcg 4.0 mcg 145.0 mcg
Biotin None .42 mcg 2.08 mcg 96.0 mcg
Vitamin B12 None None 1.84 mcg 111.3 mcg

Categories

Food & Nutrition

Join the 90,724 others
taking control of their health.

Get clarity, personalization – and motivation.

Register for Free Today

Comments Join the Conversation

  1. says

    I always say “liver blows any fruit or vegetable out of the water in terms of nutrient-density” – how nice to have someone else of the same opinion. After numerous tries, my children now eat “kid pate” – made with sauteed apples, bacon, liver, all pureed along with a bit of Rapadura I hope to wean out over time, and cinnamon. They actually really like it on toast, topped with apple slices! Yay!

    - Kelly, CNC
    holistic nutritionist
    http://www.foodtherapeutics.com

    • Jeff says

      Everyone knows that there is more nutrition per weight… what about per calorie? a 100g of carrot is not a comparison to 100g of red meat.

      • Torben Deumert says

        Nutrients/calorie is not necessarily a good marker. I would keep them separate for the most part. But let’s do the math.

        Based on the data from the USDA (and given I don’t have an error in my software somewhere), I can say this:
        Raw apples have an average of 1.4% of the RDA of the vitamins per 100g. With “on average” I mean that for some vitamins it contains more than 1.4% of RDA and for some less, but it averages to 1.4% of RDA for all vitamins.
        For raw carrots it’s 12.5% and for beef (I am using entry 13444 from the USDA db, which is “Beef, loin, tenderloin steak, boneless, separable lean only, trimmed to 0″ fat, select, cooked, grilled”) has 15.3%.

        Given that apples have about 0.5 kcal/g, carrots about 0.4 kcal/g and the beef about 2 kcal/g, it follows that per 100 kcal we have apples at 2.8%, carrots at 31% and beef at 7.7%.

        So carrots are about 4 times “as good” as beef, but beef is over 2.5 times as good apples. (Don’t stop, there’s more)

        For minerals we have (per 100g): apples 1.1%, carrots 3.7%, beef 18.1%. Per 100kcal we get: apples 2.2%, carrots 9.3%, beef 9.1%.
        That means, when it comes to minerals carrots and beef are about the same (per kcal) and both are about about 4 times “as good” as apples. (Continue, there’s more)

        Vitamins and minerals are not the only essential nutrients. All are pretty much devoid of essential fatty acids. That leaves amino acids:

        Per 100g: apples 0.5%, carrots 5.8%, beef 92.7%
        Per 100kcal: apples 1%, carrots 12%, beef 46%.
        So apples are absolutely useless, and beef is about 4 times “as good” as carrots. (Continue, there’s more).

        We have not touched on two topics:
        1. bioavailability (I won’t touch on that, but I would be surprised if the bioavailability of the nutrients in carrots were higher than from cooked beef)
        2. nutrient distribution. (how close does the ratios of the nutrients a food contains mirror the RDAs?). I could touch on that a little, but I don’t want to open a can of worms. It’s not easy to talk about the distribution quality, because it’s hard to compare the quality of distribution between foods and very easy to let some kind of bias into the equation. But at least when it comes to amino acids balance, animal foods are significantly “better”.

        I also calculated the above percentages for all essential nutrients. What I get is this:

        Per 100g: apples 1%, carrots 7.3%, beef 36.3%
        Per 100kcal: apples <1%, carrots about 15%, beef about 18%

        So even when looking at nutrients/kcal beef is a little "better" than carrots and apples seem to be useless as a nutritional source based on the essential nutrients.

        As I said before: All this is based on the hope that I don't have any major bug in my current software prototype. So please correct me if I'm wrong or you suspect I am. I'd rather know I'm wrong than to think I'm right.

        • Torben Deumert says

          Just an additional comment: The amino acid RDAs are based on bodyweight. In the numbers above, weight was set to 75kg/165lbs.

        • says

          Just revisited this post to check the chart on beef liver comparisons that the article referenced. I have just checked your math and something is seriously flawed.

          First you are not on topic of the article which is comparing liver to red meat, apples and carrots. You are comparing to tenderloin which is the least nutrient dense of all meat cuts and had been trimmed to ’0′ fat, therefore could not have any measurable essential fatty acid, Omega 3′s as they are in the fat profile.

          In your third paragraph you quote carrots at 0.4 kcal/g and the beef about 2 kcal/g,. It follows in my math that even the beef tenderloin is 5 times the value of carrots, not less as you indicate.

          Liver is many times the value of the apples and carrots in all values, especially the vitamins A,D,E and K. These are stored in the fat profile of the animals, and whilst not shown in the comparison chart, it necessarily follows that the liver has comparatively high essential fatty acids such as Omega 3, and if pasture grazing fat beef, in Omega 6:3 ratio balance.
          We have to be careful to compare ‘apples to apples’ as it were, otherwise partial truths, can distort and seriously miscarry the whole truth.

        • Mary says

          “Potentially contain” never means “successfully (fully) absorbed” in our body.. chemistry is sometimes more helpful than arithmetics…

    • Kristine says

      I am very anemic and keep trying to get my iron levels up with vitamins as well as eating foods with high amounts of iron. Every time I eat liver I notice how immediate the feeling of energy comes back. I’m a gastric bypass patient and know how important it is to eat healthy things, sometimes I have to avoid the fruit or veggies because my protein intake, but I always try to make a point to still find a way to keep them in my routine. It’s nice to be able to GOOGLE information that is informative! Also, I found a recipe that suggested soaking the liver in milk to help with the bitterness, which I did, skim milk to be exact, and the taste is much better!

      • Lisa says

        Try Mega Foods Blood Builder. I have struggled with my iron/ferritin levels all my life… I’ve taken my ferritin from 5 to 22 in 6 months and it’s still going!

        Feeling so much better!

      • lynn says

        hey kristine, i’m challenged with getting my iron levels up. am just getting a little better about taking my frozen liver pills (had a gaggy experience early on, plus only gaggy experiences with cooked). if you’re willing, would love to hear how you’re doing…have you been able to get your iron levels up..or not…and what you attribute that too. best to you!

        • Nola says

          Hi Lynn, try dehydrated liver. I am not a liver fan but know of how beneficial it is. I took raw lambs liver, blended it till smooth and put it into the dehydrator at 47 degrees (so not to destroy any nutrients) once dried then blend again into fine powder and fill up empty capsules. It is fabulous. Sounds like a lot of work but it is well worth it. Good luck, regards nola

      • Ragnar says

        Soaking in plain water for and hour does the trick. Plus cooking with onions gives the liver a little sweeter taste so it kinda neutralizes the bitterness.

    • Leo says

      As a nutritionist you do know that liver has an overload of vitamin A that can cause hypervitaminosis A through regular consumption right? I think it’s a great food to eat once in a blue moon, but regular consumption could lead to many consequences between them osteoporosis. Go search for it.

      • Pete says

        FWIW I eat about a pound of grass fed liver per week in about 1/4 lb slices per day . I get plenty of D3 and K2..Been doing that for about 8 months with only positive results.

        • Leo says

          Nice. Just once a week might be a well balanced amount of this food, though I’d eat it only one time a month. I just think it’s important to do some check ups from time to time with a nutritionist or a molecular physician to check if we’re getting either to much or too little of some vitamins. But yeah, it’s a good food, it has its pros :)

      • Max says

        This is actually propaganda that came from explorers eating polar bear liver that was contaminated with cadmium. Synthetic vitamin A will cause problems at high doses but the natural vitamin A would require enormous doses over a long period to cause problems, Also it is balanced with the other nutrients unlike isolated synthetic vitamin A. I eat liver every day and I am super healthy,

          • lana says

            The “Real Food” folks, such as Chris Kresser, tell us that the cholesterol you eat has nothing to do with your blood levels, because you body makes cholesterol, daily. Find info here and other places, such as perfecthealthdiet.com

      • Vitamin D keeps Vitamin A in Check. says

        Hey Leo,

        I don’t think liver is a good source of vitamin D,so in that case I’ve started eating it with pasture raised pork lard.

        The reason for this is,liver is loaded with Vitamin A,but if you eat Vitamin D,it will keep Vitamin A in check and make sure you do not get Vitamin A toxicity.

    • Michael says

      WOW……….it’s amazing the vast array of health claims made… everywhere , not just here . After 15 years of searching for answers I feel like I dropped into the middle of the ocean and there’s still no land in sight…..thank goodness I can float !!!!

      Like so many people I have an array of health problems and bandaid as best I can on a tight budget……ahhhhhh

    • Martine says

      I really would appreciate recipes for liver. I only ever made it ages ago the way my parents cooked it, pan fried with heaps of onion. I am not a fan of pan fried onions and have trouble digesting them so other ways to cook liver would really be great! Can you post you “kid pâté” please Kelly, I don’t mind pate actually.

  2. admin says

    Kelly,

    Thanks for your comment – and for sharing your recipe for “kid-friendly” liver. Truth be told, I’m still experimenting with different methods of preparation myself because I’m one of those unlucky people who finds the taste of liver on its own to be somewhat objectionable.

    My wife is a different story. She gobbles it up stir-fried with a few onions without a second thought!

    Best,
    Chris

    • Andrea says

      I take my liver by chopping it (frozen) and shallowing it down like pills…not my favourite taste either…make sure you have something nice-tasting to pop in your mouth when you’re done though ;-)

      • kristin says

        Andrea, I also freeze beef liver and pop it like a pill. I swallow it down with warm tea (the warmth helps the cold jagged pieces go down better, the flavor of the tea masks the potent flavor). At first I could hardly stand even cutting up the liver (the smell was so strong), but now I’m totally OK with it. I love chicken liver pate…but beef liver will probably never become an anticipated meal in our home. I think “liver pills” are a great alternative.

        • Pam says

          You should google “grass fed beef liver pate” I got a great recipe for that and it’s easy and I love eating it!

        • my opinion says

          Don’t people realize that mastication is important for nutrient assimilation? When you chew that helps your body digest the food. When you swallow without chewing, guess what happens? Not as good nutrient assimilation! Just flavor raw liver with whatever spices you like. Curry powder can be great. Cumin, coriander, tumeric, paprika, basil, chili powder, even sea vegetables like dulse are wonderful. Watch for needlessly added salt added to spices. Its getting harder and harder to find spices without the world’s cheapest preservative (salt) added. And if you care about your body you certainly won’t ingest inorganic liver that is loaded with growth hormones and steroids from animals fed on the cheapest crap possible. Look for grass fed beef, and if you want liver that tastes better than beef, try elk and bison. Much better.

      • Nancy says

        Same here Andrea! we take about ten good size frozen liver pills a day (grass fed organic of course) washed down with delicious veggie smoothies (nutrition packed with nuts, chia, pastured eggs) along with other food based supplements. The resident 2 1/2 yr old thinks they are candy haha and chews them up frozen! Pediatrician says she’s the healthiest toddler she’s ever seen, supports us with lacto paleo diet and no vaccines for her.
        This has helped us immensely, been doing it about 4 months now. Never had a problem of any kind!
        Husband reversed high liver enzymes, lowered triglycerides and dropped the cholesterol level 60 points…. So not buying the advice of the naysayers. Proof is in the pudding!

      • Tara says

        I must be weird too, i loved it growing up. going to try and make it tonight. hopefully it tastes as good as i remember.

        • Cindy says

          When we were first married I made beef liver for dinner. My husband just sat and stared at it. I couldn’t imagine someone not liking beef liver. I love it but need to eat apple sauce with it, seems to help with the dryness.

        • Charlotte says

          I cut up onion,tomatoe,jalapenllo peppers and liver fry in olive oil add salt and garlic powder. Cover and lower heat cook untill done. Delicioso!!

    • Liverlover says

      I find the best way to make liver is to fry it in beef tallow,then add Onions,Garlic,Thyme,Rosemary,Oregano,then add tomatoes or tomatoe paste with Celtic salt. The tomatoes add a nice rich taste with the liver,its so good.

      By the way I love organ meats,especially liver,I’ve really learned to like the taste even only cooked with onions,I still enjoy it.

      If one doesn’t eat for a whole day,then the next day cook some liver,you might enjoy it more. Eat it when your really hungry.

    • Ursa says

      Paleo Friendly and so amazing! one pound of liver soaked for at least 20 min in an onion paste (blend 1 onion, 3 garlic cloves, salt & pepper to taste with 1 1/4 cup of water). Pan fry liver for about 2-3 minutes each side with olive oil high to medium heat, dumped the paste in the pan with the liver, added 1 tablespoon of cumin, 1 tablespoon of paprika one fist full of chopped cilantro, (I did not add any butter, but you can for a smoother sauce, about 2-3 tbls if you like or to your taste) cook for another 7 minutes or till onion paste cooked. I served liver (5 oz) with 1 cup of steam carrots and 2 cups rutabaga with a little butter, salt pepper and rosemary. By the way, I love how Liver taste with a little fresh lemon juice, so I always put some right before I start to dig in! This recipe per person is not even 650 calories so nutritious and satisfying!

    • Viv says

      Chris, the worst thing is to overcook the liver – it should be pink. I am lucky enough to get veal liver which is delicious otherwise I agree that soaking in milk helps. This is how I prepare it and it is delicious – even my son (who said he did not like liver) loves it.
      Put some olive oil in frying pan and cook lots of thinly chopped onions with some salt and a bay leaf. Once very soft and caramelised put aside and don’t wash the pan.
      Cut up the liver into bit size pieces – make sure it has not been cut too thinly. Place the pan on high heat, adding some more olive oil – the wonderful taste comes from browning the liver so don’t be tempted to move it around the pan for a least 2 minutes, then add a LITTLE wine and cook it out, add in the onions, salt and pepper (or cayenne if you like spicy), mix and cook for another 30 seconds. Serve and ENJOY – great with greens – I used to eat with rice.
      PS. It makes a wonderful pate with any left overs. Wizz in food processor with a little butter, adjust seasoning, add a little brandy if you wish. Place in small dish and pour in some ghee to cover. Place a bay leaf and a little more pepper on top then refrigerate for 2/3 days.

  3. Bruce says

    You said that red meat surpasses carrots and apples in all nutrients. Based on your data, folic acid is lower in red meat than in both carrots and apples. Vitamin B6 is lower in red meat than in apples. Thiamin in red meat is simply equal to apples. Other than that, your claims seem to be accurate.

    However, it’s not really fair to compare things on a weight basis. They also should be compared on a calorie basis. Then, the fruits and vegetables may come out ahead. Let’s see. According to NutritionData, 100g of carrots has 35-41 Calories. 100g of apples 48-51 calories. 100g of beef (15-25% fat) is 215-293 Calories. 100g of beef liver has 135 Calories.
    http://www.nutritiondata.com/

    We must also consider how the foods are prepared and the bio-availability of nutrients. Just comparing nutrients by weight doesn’t always tell us the whole story. For example, dark chocolate may have more anti-oxidants per gram than blueberries or red wine, but on a calorie basis it might have less anti-oxidants. Likewise, a food may have more anti-oxidants, but also more pro-oxididants that cancel out the anti-oxidants.

    For example, soybean oil might be higher in Vitamin E than Macadamia Oil, or Coconut Oil, but that doesn’t mean it’s better. We must consider all the factors – nutrients per gram, nutrients per calorie, bio-availability, positive and negative effects, etc. It may be that red meat has more bio-availability than ALL plant foods, in which case it would be better to eat a carnivorous diet. Or maybe fruits and vegetables come out ahead sometimes, because they have more nutrients per calorie.

    What is your affiliation with the Weston Price Foundation? You refer to the work of Chris Masterjohn, and your first name is Chris. Coincidence, or are you the same person? It’s hard to tell from the blog.

  4. Bruce says

    I said “Vitamin B6 is lower in red meat than in apples. Thiamin in red meat is simply equal to apples.”

    That should be carrots, not apples. I read the wrong column by mistake. But my main point was still right, that red meat had less of several nutrients on the basis of weight. On a calorie basis, it will look even worse, compared to carrots and apples. And those aren’t really the most nutritient-dense foods, either. Compared to romaine lettuce or something like that, the carrots and apples might look like nutritional light-weights.

    Comparing foods by weight can be deceptive, if one food is vastly higher in calories than the other. Like comparing dark chocolate and blueberries. The chocolate may have 10 times as many calories (or more). Comparing things by calories can also be deceptive, if the amounts you would have to eat to get those calories would be unrealistic with a given food. Like comparing a hundred calories of romaine lettuce to 100 calories of butter.

  5. admin says

    Bruce,

    Thanks for your comments. First, I am a member of the Weston A. Price Foundation but I have no professional affiliation with them whatsoever. Nor am I Chris Masterjohn, as you can see from my About page.

    I agree with you that there are other things to consider when comparing foods than a straight nutritional analysis by weight. Calories may be important for some people, but then again, they may not be. I don’t pay any attention at all to calories myself, because 1) I am not overweight and 2) I don’t believe weight management is as simple as “calories in, calories out”. This, in my opinion, is yet another mainstream myth (and I plan to address it in a future post).

    You compare red meat with apples and carrots several times in your comments. Actually, the point of this post was to compare the nutrient contents of vegetables with liver – not muscle meat. And if you look at the chart, liver is significantly higher in every single nutrient than carrots and apples by weight, and is still higher in most nutrients even if you compare the foods by calories.

    For example, you would have to eat seven times more carrots than liver to obtain the same amount of vitamin B6. And you would have to eat nearly fifteen times more carrots than liver to get the same amount of iron. Clearly it’s safe to say that liver is more “nutrient-dense” than carrots and apples by both weight and calories.

    My intention here is not to say that we shouldn’t eat apples or carrots. Far from it. I’m merely pointing out that people often have a mistaken idea that vegetables are the only foods high in vitamins and minerals. This is due to the demonization of meats and organ meats that has occurred over the last several decades in the U.S..

    The importance of eating fruits and vegetables is well-understood in the mainstream (although this advice is not followed by most people according to the statistics). However, it isn’t commonly known that organ meats (and muscle meats to a slightly lesser extent) are often much higher in almost all the nutrients we find in fruits and vegetables. I hope that posts like these will raise people’s awareness of this fact.

    I’d also like to point out that I strongly recommend eating meat and organ meats from pasture-raised animals. Not only is this better for the environment, the nutrient levels in grass-fed meats are significantly higher than those in meats that come from animals raised in confinement feedlots. Please see my recent posts Why grass-fed is best – part I and Why grass-fed is best – part II for more information.

    Chris

    • Jarrod says

      Hi Chris,

      I’ve been reading the posts and am wondering if popping the frozen “liver pills” is as beneficial as eating cooked liver. I tried frying up calf liver as directed and ate with some onions. Couldn’t stand the taste most importantly the texture!

      I have pretty bad intestinal problems and have been advised by my ND as well as a doctor in a very good book I’ve been reading to eat organ meats at least once a week to help heal the digestive tract. Thoughts?

      Thanks so much!

      Jarrod

        • Christine T. says

          What do you usually put the pate on? There’s so many great dip and spread recipes that are paleo but how would you sub crackers?

          • says

            I actually put the pate on bread made from tapioca starch, cheese, and eggs. Not Paleo, per se, but I have no problem with ‘safe starches’ and dairy, and if it gets me to eat liver, I’m happy! If I could eat raw veggies, I’d dip carrots in it. And the Paleo Parents have a chicken liver ‘mousse’ recipe that they serve with apples, and that looks super tasty as well!

          • Blair says

            For some reason, I find celery to be far superior to any other dipping vegetable that I’ve tried. Not sure why the flavor goes so well with pate. Also good with paleo crackers!

    • Annette says

      Your claim about grass- fed being better for the environment is incorrect. Spreading misinformation regarding personal health is one thing, but environmental? I recommend you do a little bit of research before deceiving your readers about such an important issue.

      • Lula says

        Could you please cite the sources for your statements? If you are to question the opinion of the author it is best to back up your statements so that we all can learn.

      • Carlene says

        I agree, If grass fed is not better for the environment, how so? WHere did you get your information from? Factory farming is better? ..HAHAHAH.. even an uneducated person can see it is clearly not working for our environment.

      • Pam says

        Annette, I suggest you do your own research! From every thing I have read, grass feeding/pasturing animals is FAR better for the environment, reducing CO2 gases and other factors, as well, including global warming (sic).

      • marcus volke says

        you are the one who needs to do her research Annette. Grass feeding utilizes land that is not fit for agriculture and would otherwise go unused, while grain feeding dramatically increases the deforestation to make room for growing more grain crops.
        Furthermore, free roaming cattle help prevent carbon emissions from rotting grassland which also combats desertification.

      • Noogis says

        Annette, research has shown that pastured ruminant animals are the only thing that can actually save the environment. They can heal the soil and prevent desertification. Vegan religion may be fun, but its neither sustainable, or is it evolutionarily viable.

        TED talk about healing desertification through grazing: http://youtu.be/vpTHi7O66pI

      • Nancy says

        I’m thinking you may benefit from a viewing of Food Inc. on Netflix. they had an excellent explanation from a grass fed farmer explaining the difference for the environment.

    • marcus volke says

      furthermore it is very specious to compare the nutrient content of meat and vegetables by calories, because vegetables are typically much lower in calories, and it is impractical to eat the same amount of calories from vegetables as it is from meat (with the exception of starchy vegetables and tubers, like potatoes).
      Nobody is going to go eating pounds of carrots to get the same nutrition as a much smaller portion size of beef or liver…

      P.S CHRIS! Can you please cite your source for the above table? Last I checked the USDA cites beef as very POOR source of vitamin E, yet your table lists the vitamin E content of beef as being quite high.

      • says

        Marcus Volke: agree very much with your posts.
        On the vitamin E issue- In the mid 1990′s our Federal Slaughter Plant for the Maritimes (since closed due to industry consolidation?)was requiring producers to feed extra Vitamin E to help with shelf life of retail counter beef. Through random testing compliance it was discovered that our fat beef shipments were higher without supplementation than grain fattened beef. We were predominately grass fattening as now and subsequent tests indicate such beef up to 500% higher then grain finished.

  6. Bruce says

    I have no disagreement about the calorie myth. I think what you eat is more important than how many calories (which tends to take care of itself when a person doesn’t eat highly processed food). My point was simply that you can eat lots of vegetables without getting a lot of calories. Some people believe juicing raw vegetables is particularly healthy, but I’m not convinced that the plant toxins and anti-nutrients are safe. Liver is a good food, but most can’t stand to eat it in large amounts or frequently. It’s also possible that a highly carnivorous diet would reduce our need for nutrients.

    You say “you would have to eat seven times more carrots than liver to obtain the same amount of vitamin B6. And you would have to eat nearly fifteen times more carrots than liver to get the same amount of iron.” I’m assuming you’re talking about a calorie basis here. Maybe you don’t need much B6 (or other B Vitamins) on a pure meat diet. And maybe it’s not that good to get large amounts of iron from meat. Iron promotes free radicals, lipid peroxidation, and other problems. A high-fat diet would be low in iron, because fat displaces iron. Lean beef has significantly more iron per calorie and gram than fatty beef, for example, because it has more protein.

    To compare several foods and say that one is better does create a fallacy, because it suggests that we must choose between eating one or another when we could just as easily add fruits and vegetables, while also eating red meat and liver, perhaps getting cumulative benefits thereby. It should nonetheless be considered that maybe some people would do better on a purely carnivorous, high-fat, very-low-carb diet without any fiber. I’m by no means convinced fruits and vegetables are essential or healthy.

    • Elizabeth says

      Fruits and vegetables are healthy and they make your body alkaline. When your body is alkaline, it goes into healing mode and all inflammation goes down. Inflammation is linked to heart attacks, diabetes, cancer, and arthritis, allergies, and asthma. The people that live the longest in the world are the Okinawans in Japan and their diet consists of 1 ounce of red meat a day 8 servings of fruits and vegetables, and fish twice a week, grains 8 servings and soy products two times a day.
      THey limit meat drastically and they live the longest in the world. THey have the most people living over 100 years old and their villages have virtually no cancer, heart disease or autoimmune disorders.

      What does that tell you?

      • Max says

        you don’twant to be tooalkaline or too acidic. Yes, people in SAD diet may be too acidic but raw vegans tend to be too alkaline.

      • Tytus says

        The fact that Okinawans cook their vegetables in lots of lard is often left out. High-protein diet has never been healthy, but a high fat diet (especially pork fat) plus moderate protein is the key to longevity. One can not extract and metabolize all the nutrients in vegetables without animal fat. And this PH theory is pseudo-science. I believe that one becomes ill by eating processed foods, otherwise why Eskimos, Yakuts, Mongols, Alaskan natives who eat only meats (acidic stuff) do not become acidic.

      • veronica says

        Plus I read that people with blood type O do much better if their system is slightly more acidic than alkaline.Therefore health depends largely on what foods are proper for your type.Healthy eating is a very individual matter.No one type foods are good for everybody.Whats good for the Okinawan’s who are mostly blood types A and B might not be the best diet for blood type O,s.

  7. admin says

    Hi Bruce,

    Thanks for your very thorough reply. I agree with you that eating lean meat (or any source of lean protein) without fat isn’t a good idea. In part this is due to the higher iron content per calorie, as you mentioned; the other reason is that digestion of protein requires the presence of fat-soluble vitamins (A & D), and if we eat lean protein without fat it depletes our body’s own stores of those vitamins (which are crucial to health).

    I pretty much agree with everything else you’ve said here. I just want to reiterate, however, that I’m not saying that liver is “better” than carrots or apples. As you point out, such a claim isn’t really meaningful without a context. My intention was simply to counter the popular myth that fruits and vegetables are higher in micronutrients than meats and organ meats.

    I’ve got nothing against fruits and vegetables :) – I eat them every day! Are they essential to health? Possibly, possibly not. But as you suggest, there are plenty of cultures around the world that eat almost no fruits and vegetables at all and are healthy and free of many modern degenerative diseases. The Masai tribe in Africa comes to mind. They subsist almost entirely on milk, blood and beef.

  8. Bruce says

    I’m glad you pointed out Chris Masterjohn’s PUFA Report. I’ve been talking with him about PUFAs on another list, and he has changed his position very considerably from what it was several months ago. A lot of information has been presented by Ray Peat that I find valuable, such as the health benefit of keeping PUFAs very low, the toxicity of various plants, etc. Chris makes a good point that the need for PUFAs is inflated by modern diets of processed refined sugars and toxic vegetable oils.

    I’ve read Ray Peat’s articles on fats, oils, Vitamin E, and PUFAs. He is a bit extreme about it, basing the diet on foods that are very low in PUFAs, like coconut oil, dairy, red meat, potatoes, honey, fruit, and root vegetables. I think there is a lot of truth to what he is saying, though. Here are some of his key articles, I think, which support a lot of Chris Masterjohn’s points. It is good to read them all, as they build on each other.

    http://raypeat.com/articles/articles/coconut-oil.shtml
    http://raypeat.com/articles/articles/fats-degeneration.shtml
    http://raypeat.com/articles/nutrition/oils-in-context.shtml
    http://raypeat.com/articles/articles/unsaturated-oils.shtml

  9. admin says

    Bruce,

    Sorry I didn’t reply earlier. Somehow your comment was erroneously labeled as SPAM.

    Yes, Chris’s report is excellent. I have also read all of Ray Peat’s articles and I am less convinced by some of his more extreme views. I do not believe that n-3 PUFA in small amounts is toxic as he suggests. However, in general he makes several good points and I agree with much of what he is trying to get across.

    Best,
    Chris

    • Pauli says

      Eating a little n-3 is possibly the key. It’s hard to avoid eating a little n-3! But many of the health gurus would have you gobbling fish oil as an elixer. Most EPA/DHA studies are observational and controversial – there are no long term rct studies on such activities, and never will be. And most studies on EPA/DHA supplementation address short term inflammation repression. There is no irrefutable science that shows that at the cellular level, long term supplemental EPA/DHA is an essential ingredient for sustaining health. In fact, Peat asserts it may be harmful. BTW, it’s a bit ridiculous to say “I disagree with Peat,” (or any scientist, of which I am one) unless you can contradict the science behind his assertations.

  10. Bruce says

    I tried to post this in the EFA article, but the site kept rejecting it. Said you had disabled all comments temporarily to prevent spam. I think because of having several links, the software identifies it as spam. I didn’t think it had gone through at all, because the site wouldn’t accept it.

    Peat is not against small amounts of omega-3, but he gets it in the form of shellfish and lean fish (cod, white fish, pollock, etc) eating occasionally. The point that he makes is that we should be making more Mead Acid, which is the 20:3 omega-9 PUFA our bodies make (from MUFAs, SFAs, carbs, protein, and so forth). Here’s a good article about Mead Acid.

    http://forum.lowcarber.org/showpost.php?p=7121180&postcount=15

    There are other PUFAs we can make, llike Nervonic Acid, with vital functions in the brain. These fats have not been investigated enough, because all of the attention is on dietary PUFA (omega-3 and omega-6). Mead Acid is less inflammatory than omega-3. In fact, it makes omega-3 look inflammatory by comparison. Peat believes that most of the PUFAs in our bodies should be made by our body. That way, there’s a feedback loop preventing them from building up to toxic levels. Obviously, it’s impossible to avoid omega-6 and omega-3 fats completely, but they can be kept very low (1-4% of calories), without much effort, depending on your total fat intake.

    • Kelly says

      If Mead acid is so ideal, why does Ray Peat feel the need to take several aspirins a day? The man seems nice, but his dietary advice is extreme to the max.

  11. admin says

    Bruce,

    Sorry you had trouble posting the comment. I’ll look into it. I’m still pretty new to blogging, so I haven’t figured out exactly how the comments filter works.

    Thanks for the link about mead acid. I’ll definitely read it, and I’ve seen a lot of discussion of mead acid and the various other fatty acids elsewhere lately. Clearly we still have much to learn.

    Best,
    Chris

  12. says

    In short – yes! There is a rather famous doctor (can’t remember his name at the moment) who uses raw liver juice and dessicated liver to treat cancer.

  13. Bruce says

    Max Gerson used to do that, but he stopped recommending the practice for some reason. I think raw liver would be better than 5 pounds of carrots. It would be difficult to consume that many carrots unless you juiced them and carrots are high in sucrose and carbs. What’s the reason for liver juice? It’s not hard to eat raw liver, just swallow without chewing. Stefansson said in one of his articles that the the Eskimos didn’t chew their meat much. A dog won’t chew their food, either. They just gulp it down.

  14. says

    Thanks Bruce. It was Max Gerson I was thinking about.

    If that fellow wasn’t eating any fat along with the carrots, then he wasn’t absorbing the beta-carotene and converting it to vitamin A. I can’t see how that would be beneficial.

    Often when people improve with such strategies, I think what is actually happening is they are benefitting more from what they’ve *removed* from their diet (PUFA, flour, processed food, etc.) than what they’ve added (a whole bunch of carrots).

  15. Bruce says

    Five pounds of carrots is insane. That’s like half a gallon of juice probably. I agree with you that it’s probably food elimination that provides most of the benefits there. When you stuff yourself with one food, you eat less of other foods. It’s basically like a fast or elimination diet. That’s how those fad diets work like the grape diet, grapefruit diet, cabbage soup diet, etc.

  16. Joan says

    Raw carrots rid the body of estrogen.  Drinking carrot juice increases PUFA’s and liver is anti-thyroid.  Not that I would recommend eating five pounds a day.

    Joan 

  17. Lee says

    The base nutritional content of Liver in comparison to raw vegetables bares no relevence in regards to the benefit it holds once digested by the human body.

    All meat & processed food leaves an acidifying ash after digestion for which the body has to strip essential alkalizing minerals i.e calcium & magnesium away from bones to counter this effect. One can understand that much disease e.g Osteoporosis is caused by our diet.

    If we were designed to eat meat then why would we need to cook it? It is a process that doesn’t come naturally but we utilised/invented.
    No other species on the face of the planet eats what & how we do.
    True carnivores salivate with the smell of blood, have teeth/claws/talons to tear raw flesh & a short digestive tract to process the meat. We do not!

    …Just some food for thought.

    • admin says

      The base nutritional content of Liver in comparison to raw vegetables bares no relevence in regards to the benefit it holds once digested by the human body.

      Yes, that’s correct. But the nutrients in liver are not only significantly more numerous than they are in fruits and vegetables, they are more assimilable.

      All meat & processed food leaves an acidifying ash after digestion for which the body has to strip essential alkalizing minerals i.e calcium & magnesium away from bones to counter this effect. One can understand that much disease e.g Osteoporosis is caused by our diet.

      This is a myth. The homeostatic mechanisms controlling the pH of your blood are incredibly robust and tightly regulated. Proponents of the “acid/alkaline hypothesis” view salivary and urinary pH as the same. They’re not. Saliva is not used by the body to get rid of excess acid or base. Although the pH of your urine can indeed range from 4.5 to 8.0 (nearly four orders of magnitude difference in H+ concentration), urine pH is not body pH. In fact, you can’t really control the pH of most of your bodily fluids, particularly blood and extracellular fluid.

      Urine is one exception, and this is the very reason why the “remedies” sold by the pH fetishists appear to work. For example, dairy products, eggs, and foods with a lot of protein, like meats, will indeed acidify your urine, mainly because the kidneys will secrete the excess acid that is generated when the excess protein is broken down. Your blood pH changes minimally if at all.

      As you pointed out, certain foods can leave end-products called ash that can make your urine acid or alkaline, but urine is the only body fluid that can have its acidity changed by food or supplements. Alkaline ash foods include fresh fruit and raw vegetables. Acid ash foods include all animal products, whole grains, beans and other seeds. These foods can change the acidity of your urine, but that’s irrelevant since your urine is contained in your bladder and does not affect the pH of any other part of your body.

      Several studies have supposedly shown that meat consumption is the cause of various illnesses, but such studies, honestly evaluated, show no such thing.

      Dr. Herta Spencer’s research on protein intake and bone loss clearly showed that protein consumption in the form of real meat has no impact on bone density. Studies that supposedly proved that excessive protein consumption equaled more bone loss were not done with real meat but with fractionated protein powders and isolated amino acids. [1. (a) H Spencer and L Kramer. Factors contributing to osteoporosis. J Nutr, 1986, 116:316-319; (b) Further studies of the effect of a high protein diet as meat on calcium metabolism. Amer J Clin Nutr, 1983, 924-929; c) Do protein and phosphorus cause calcium loss? J Nutr, 1988, 118(6):657-60.]

      The claim that meat consumption causes a degenerative disease like osteoporosis is hard to reconcile with historical and anthropological facts. Osteoporosis and other chronic ailments like heart disease are primarily 20th century occurrences, yet people have been eating meat and animal fat for many thousands of years. Further, as Dr. Weston A. Price’s research showed, there were/are several native peoples around the world (the Innuit, Maasai, Swiss, etc.) whose traditional diets were/are very rich in animal products, but who nevertheless did/do not suffer from the above-mentioned maladies. [2. WA Price. Nutrition and Physical Degeneration. (Keats Publishing; CT.), 1989, 256-281.] Dr. George Mann’s independent studies of the Maasai done many years after Dr. Price, confirmed the fact that the Maasai, despite being almost exclusive meat eaters, nevertheless, had little to no incidence of heart disease, or other chronic ailments. [3. (a) G Mann. Atherosclerosis and the Masai. Amer J Epidem, 1972, 95:6-37; (b) Diet and disease among the milk and meat eating Masai warriors of Tanganyika. Food Nutr, 1963, 24:104.] This proves that other factors besides animal foods are at work in causing these diseases.

      As to our evolutionary biology and the diet of our ancestors, I suggest you investigate the “Expensive Tissue Hypothesis”, formulated by anthropologists L. Aiello and P. Wheeler. Our brains are twice as large as they should be for a primate of our size. Meanwhile, our digestive tract is 60 percent smaller. Our bodies were built by nutrient-dense foods. The Australopithecine brain grew to Homo sapiens size because meat let our digestive system shrink, thus freeing up energy for those brains. For more on the Expensive Tissue Hypothesis, see this post by Dr. Michael Eades.

      Humans are not monofeeders. From the moment we stood upright, we’ve been eating large ruminant animals. Four million years ago, Australopithecines, our species forerunners, ate meat. Anthropologists Matt Sponheimer and Julia Lee-Thorp found Carbon-13 in the tooth enamel of four three-million-year-old skeletons in a South African cave. Carbon-13 is a stable isotope present in two places: grasses and the bodies of animals that eat grass. Those teeth showed none of the scratch marks of grass consumption. [4. Eades and Eades, Protein Power Life Plan, p.6]

      Humans have the physiology of a true omnivore – not a vegetarian. We have incisors in both jaws, ridged molars, and small canine teeth. Our stomach has a relatively small capacity (2 quarts), and our colon is also short and small and has putrefactive bacterial flora. In contrast, a true vegetarian animal like a sheep has incisors in the lower jaw only, flat molars, and no canines. Their stomach is huge (8.5 quart capacity) and their colon is long and capacious, with large amounts of fermentative bacteria (to help them digest cellulose and raw grains, which humans are incapable of digesting.)

      I could go on but I believe I’ve made my point. If you are open minded and willing to question your own views, I suggest you read The Vegetarian Myth, by Lierre Keith. It will disabuse you of these (and many more) common misconceptions about meat eating and vegetarianism that are so often reiterated on the internet and elsewhere.

      • says

        Hi Chris. I love your work and research integrity on these sorts of topics. As a historian I am completely intrigued by the question of how long bone density loss has been a problem from human populations. If you have seen any decent archeological evidence that pre-agricultural humans/hominids didn’t suffer osteoporosis when living long enough to get it, I would be most grateful for the references. I have found some studies that suggest otherwise in specific populations where bone loss has been identified in mature adults (eg. Californian indigenous populations before European contact) but given how little data we have, it is hard to draw any conclusions. My inclination is, of course, to think that grain consumption, especially when followed by toxin exposure and the introduction of sugar and processed foods are probably the real culprits. But I am keen to consider all the evidence from archeology, human anthropology and medical history before making up my mind.

      • Debbie says

        About the acidifying of urine – how does this impact trying to avoid and eliminate urinary tract infections? I’m trying to use d-mannose to rid myself of a UTI, and just read that very acidic urine could be a factor in why it isn’t helping. Thanks very much. Any light you might shed on why a paleo type diet would be a factor in recurrent UTIs would be helpful.

      • veronica says

        You probably could,but only if you sprout them,so that they have the enzymes needed for them to get properly metabolized

    • Jen says

      Having previously been to vegan camp, and heard all the arguments, I’m amazed by the fuzzy logic.

      #1, We co-evolved with fire

      There’s a Harvard primatologist, Richard Wrangham, who has written on the subject of cooking and argues that the use of fire is “what made us human.” He argues: “…tthat our evolutionary success is the result of cooking. Once our hominid ancestors began cooking, the human digestive tract shrank and the brain grew; and pair bonding, marriage, the household, and even the sexual division of labor emerged.”

      #2 We speak because we hunt (and other complex, social behaviors)

      The idea that if we were carnivores we’d have claws is also super silly. We don’t hunt alone. We developed huge brains and language–the ability to communicate and outwit animals. If we were herbivores, I doubt we would ever have developed language–we just wouldn’t have needed it to eat and survive.

      #3 We have guts for eating meat

      Finally, no serious physical anthropologist thinks our guts look anything like the guts of ruminants. WE DO NOT HAVE COW INTESTINES. This is a lie peddled by many vegan gurus who don’t know what they are talking about. We have something…in between.

      #4 Our brains need nutrients that are either super concentrated in meat or can ONLY be found in meat

      Whatever people do as a personal choice is up to them, but the fact that you can ONLY get B-12 from eating animals, and that it is vital to neuropsychiatric health suggests not only that we are omnivores, but that our brains got big *because* we (or rather, our ancestors) started eating meat. Our brains size cannot be supported on veggies alone.

      • john says

        Responding to point one: we co-evolved with fire – you can read this in Friedrich Engels works (collected works of Marx and Engels, USSR). Lots of the latest american theories, and economics is pure Marxism, but because the ordinary american is forbidden such things, they appear ‘new’. This financial crisis is explained in the first twenty pages of ‘capital’. I wish we could get past the basics, get past everything that has already been written about 150 years ago… but the obsession with piling up property won’t let us

        • john says

          Number two is also pure marxism. In fact, Engels is just as much a genius as Marx, but he writes in a very steady, boring manner and requires patience.

      • john says

        I like the article by the way, and the competent way in which questions/confusion have been approached. A friend of mine feels great after eating liver.

  18. tickyul says

    What a great website, put it on my favorites list. As for me, I eat mostly as a carnivore and feel great. I do not use any sweeteners, so when I eat liver- bloody and rare-nothing on it, it tastes sweet and yummy, I also really love chicken livers, even higher in iron than beef liver. Now, if only I could find a good source of duck eggs.

      • Joost van der Laan says

        Hi Chris,
        The two links to articles about vitamin A toxicity do not work. I take a small slice (15 gram) of beef liver every two days to enjoy the nutriënt density but to avoid vitamin A overload. Do you agree?

  19. dmc says

    Thx, interesting readings, it’s true that I gathered this info from Dr Mercola’s site. I see there’s a debate going on.

  20. RustyH says

    Is consuming liver still beneficial if it is “supermarket”  liver? I have searched my city, and I can’t find any grass fed beef.

    • Chris Kresser says

      Yes, it’s still beneficial because it still has all of the micronutrients. However, that benefit has to be balanced against the potential harm caused by the chemicals found in factory-farmed meat.

      Have you tried EatWild.com? They have listings of grass-fed meat suppliers in various locations. Also, you might also check the Weston A. Price Foundation for a local chapter in your area. They will be able to tell you where to buy grass-fed meat locally.

  21. James says

    Regarding “edible” liver:  First get it fresh, then don’t render it to leather.  When growing up my parents would get half cows and freeze them, things like liver and hamburger sat in the freezer the longest.  When it came time to cook it, my parents subscribed to (as Alton Brown’s grandmother would say) make sure it’s good and done or you’ll be good and done! Needless to say, I hated liver when I was growing up.
     
    It took some persuading, but a friend finally got me to try liver that was fresh and not cooked to death.  Buy it and fry it the same day, just a bit pink in the middle.  Very tender and not at all strong flavored.  When growing up (before chemotherapy/radiation) I still had all of my teeth and could not chew the majority of the meat my parents cooked, the stench of liver would make me nauseous.  Today with less than half of my teeth remaining (after chemotherapy/radiation in my late teens) I can not only chew it, but I can barely smell it even sitting in the kitchen while it is cooking.

  22. sam says

    try the traditional jewish recipe for chopped liver.  my 5 year old son just ate some on toast and had no complaints.  dice an onion and begin sauteeing,cut up a half pound to a pound of broiled liver and add to onions.  sautee for another 8-12 min.  boil 3-4 eggs, add liver, onion, eggs, salt, pepper, garlic powder , oil and for that sweet flavour honey and a bit of sugar. process in a blender.  for a more savoury recipe leave out the honey.  hope you enjoy it

  23. Anonymous Bob says

    I have some in the fridge all thawed out.

    How many times per week would anyone recommend to eat liver? I don’t want this stuff to go bad!

      • Chris Kresser says

        Iron overload in those that are susceptible, and possibly vitamin A toxicity in those not getting enough D & K2.

        • pete says

          Thanx for your prompt reply Chris. I do take both D and K2.. ( Thorne’s MK4 ) Lots of informative info here. Much appreciated

  24. says

    Chris, what do you think of Liver Tablets Supplements? some say they are from grass fed cows? is this an alternative to eating the stuff?

  25. JST Books says

    The require for iron, however, varies greatly in the coursework of the life cycle. Iron deficiency is more common among quickly growing kids & females in their childbearing years. Because iron is contained in blood, iron deficiency is more likely when people lose blood. Thus females who are losing blood in the coursework of their every month periods are more likely than other adults to create iron deficiency.  liquid iron supplement

    • Max says

      This kind of iron is disposed of more easily than synthetic iron. I wouldn’t worry about eating liver everyday,just don’t take iron supplements or eat any fortified foods ever as they contain synthetic iron. This is especially important for men.

    • jsuzor says

      Thanks for that recommendation for the liquid iron. I am searching for how to improve my iron. I’m not sure that I can eat meat or liver on a regular basis since I don’t have a taste for it. I’m not a vegetarian but eat like one most of the time with the exception of fish and eggs.

  26. Matt says

    This article omits the plethora of evidence that demonstrates negative health impacts associated with red and processed meat consumption. See the World Cancer Research Fund’s expert report, where over 200 of the world’s scientists from 30 different countries summarized over 7000 scientific studies on the topic of lifestyle and cancer etc., for example.

    Nothing that I can see being said here outweighs this large body of research, which is not only epidemiological, but also mechanistic and experimental in origin.

    • James says

      The “largest body of research” does not guarantee truth.

      The Inuit didn’t “research” a nearly all-meat diet, they just lived it.

      On the other hand, a *viable* Vegan diet is quite complex, you have to eat a wide array of things to insure your complete nutrition. To live on only vegetables without that complex diet leads to coining “Rabbit Starvation” to describe it.

      As far as evidence, especially as pertains to *my* health, mine consists of my blood tests. I have found that my health improves when I eat more meat, and you can hardly claim that the printout from my doctor’s office is anecdotal.

  27. Justin M says

    random question here. but I’ll go for it anyways.
    I have been following the paleo lifestyle for many months now and feel amasing.
    Still haven’t fully conquored my rheumatoid arthritis but see great improvements on top of elsewhere in my health. Slowly figuring it out with knowledge gained from Chris’s website aswell as all the helpful comments that have been provided by all you “health infowarriors”. Thanks a million.
    The random question at hand here is while I haven’t consumed much alcohol lately I have always noticed that when I do it helps with my circulation. Now does anyone have a reason as to why this is the case comming from the paleo view-point? and is there anyway I can expierence this beneficial effect without consuming beer/alcohol on a regular basis?
    does it have something to do with the yeast?
    (no joke intended here, by asking about alcohol that damages the liver, on a article that promotes beef liver as a very beneficial food:))
    thanks again,
    Justin

    • Denielle says

      you need magnesium… Read the miracle of magnesium, Carolyn Dean…Dr Sircus as well. Type in your symptom and magnesium. Apparently your rheumatoid is stress related and alcohol relaxes you… at the time!! If you can drink Epsom salts half teaspoon in glass of water, its pretty amazing stuff.

  28. Bet says

    Justin, I’m not a food scientist, but I know that alcohol does dilate blood vessels, that’s probably why you sense an improvement in your circulation.

  29. says

    My family is from France so I grew up eating pate and rillettes and not thinking much of it. But once those trips to France stopped I sort of forgot about it. I’m now trying to incorporate more liver into my diet to clear up my keratosis pilaris.

    Just a question – is the Vitamin C in liver destroyed in cooking? Should I just rely on other foods to get C?

    Thanks!

  30. Jonathan says

    You mentioned that you do think conventional liver still may be a positive…sadly that’s all I can afford. I was wondering if those stats you listed for the 100 grams were grass-fed liver? I wasn’t sure as it just says Beef Liver in the chart and I didn’t see anything making it clear what type it was.

    If that’s the number for conventional liver than grass-fed must be even more exceptional.

  31. Dee says

    Hi, I really enjoyed reading your information about liver. I too, have eaten liver ever since I was a small child. I love it, and think it’s the best tasting meat out of all of them. The problem with liver is it can get dry and/or have a bitter taste. I quit cooking it in butter awhile ago, now I use canolla oil. My favorite way to cook liver is with onions… The more onions you put in it, the sweeter it will taste (if it’s still bitter, add some sugar). That’s how my mom fixed it, that’s how I fix it. I do have one question though, I see it lists carrots as not having any Vitamin A in them… What happened to that saying about eating carrots so your eyes will be healthy? Is that not true… Because I love eating honey carrots with liver.

    • veronica says

      Try soaking your liver in salted water for about 20 minutes.I bread mine in sprouted spelt flour with a little more salt and pepper,garlic powder.Then cook it in a little butter.Yum!

  32. Ben says

    Hi Chris all, I’ve been trying some liver (lamb) after hearing the benefits on Chris’s podcast, I feel amazing shortly after consuming it. I feel more alert and improved mood just wondering if there might be something lacking in my diet (primal/paleo) that liver satisfies?

  33. nathan says

    Alright, so I grew up hating everything about the taste of liver. That all changed this past December. I have been water fasting regularly for years. Did 23 days just water several times but have always desired to do a real 40 water fast. So I prepared all last year to end the year with a forty day water fast. My preparations included gaining 45 lbs to sustain me for 40 days. Thought gaining weight would be quick. Took almost 6 months of fast food twice daily to hit 200 lbs from my start weight of 155. Process was not near as enjoyable as anticipated. I got to experience my joints all loosen up. Acid reflux, got sick, headaches, tired sore and pissed off. Process really sucked. Felt my body degenerate fast.
    Dec 21 I started my 40 day water fast. Amazing experience. At the end my eyes were opened as to why anyone would subject them selves to this level of self denial. The 37th night my eyes were fully opened for several hours to the divine.
    Anyways I spent those 47 days (took over a week longer to turn my digestion back on. Didn’t anticipate this. Was forced into 47 days and not 40) designing my new feed program for when I was to start eating again.
    Liver. Here’s my point. Hated it. Fasted and choose it for my first solid meal and loved it. Couldn’t believe how good out made me feel. I felt led to easy it raw. New nothing about eating raw meat at all. Didn’t know others ate it raw. After a week of eating nothing but raw organ meat I finally googled eating raw meat, and the benefits of eating raw liver.
    Now I’m hooked. I feel like I’m really on to something. Since December I cut out all fruit and veggies except for one day a week as more of an intestinal sweep. I cut out all fiber. My feeding since then has consisted of only gras feed lamb liver, grass feed beef heart, wild caught fish with the skin, bone broth, pastured eggs, chicken with the skin on, lots of coconut oil by the spoon full, lots of butter, home made yogurt and lots of clean water. I consume all my food in one meal at 6pm. Daily feeding is the same everyday. One dozen egg yolks. 1 to 2 lbs of raw lamb liver. About a lb of beef heart, quart of raw yogurt, several big spoons of coconut oil and either 5 or six pieces of pastured chicken with the skin or trout with the skin.
    Yup. All that in one meal over the course of about an hour and a half of steady feeding. Pure protein and tons and tons of saturated fats.

    Results……lost 55 lbs during the fast. Have gained over twenty pounds of lean muscle since then. All my joints are stronger than when I was a kid. No acid reflux at all. At 37 I suddenly naturally became a morning person with no alarm. I require very little sleep now. Friends say I look 25 all of the sudden. I have veins, muscles and a six pack for the first time in my life. My digestion system works perfectly. I can Beatty all my old pt scores from when I was infantry at 20. My skin and hair have totally changed. Here’s something that most don’t know. Farting and burbing are signs of improper digestion. I hasn’t farted or burbed since my third week of my water fast. I have quit using deodorant completely since fasting as my sweat no longer has any odor.Weird but awesome. I feel like I have a brand new body. Anyways if you hate the taste, it might be time for a pyridine shift in your thinking. Instead of eating to satisfy your mouth and stomach only, how about a shift to feeding your body instead. Be your own science project. Instead of being your very own victim! PS. I hasn’t been into a grocery store since November. I get all I eat from 1 butcher shop. I’ve never looked or felt better.

    • marie-ève says

      Nathan,
      My boyfriend and I stumbled across this page when looking for more information on liver (he’s trying to get me to eat it) and we were amazed by your testimony. Is there any way you can tell us more about your diet and transformation?
      Cheers,
      Marie-Ève

    • Karin says

      Nathan,

      If you are still alive, I would love to know how you are doing. :-)

      Just kidding….but it does seem to me that that much organ meat might be a bit much on a daily basis. Does this post still describe your daily diet?

      Paul Jaminet advises people to eat what we are…..which would mean a balance of muscle, skin, bones, organs, etc. It seems like sage advice to me.

  34. ash says

    Im pregnant and borderline anemic.I really feel better when I eat liver. I sauteed onions and tomato in ghee added liver cubes and some bombay spices.it was amazing. You should cook liver nomore than few seconds.if cooked too long tastes really rubbery. Also fried livers are so delicious.cut in small cubes toss in seasoned all purpose flour and fry it obly for few seconds.squueze some lemon on top. If you want you can have same size patatoe cubes. Tastyyy :)

  35. Helen says

    Soak the liver in milk before cooking, it takes away the aftertaste, smell. I immediately put the liver in a bowl and pour milk to cover before cooking – even if I’m eating it right away, it takes the bitterness out too. Wonderful!

  36. Bridget says

    Interesting read.Would you kindly advise on nutrition facts for Kidney and heart ( cow or goat).I always have kidney after a heavy day of drinking and it does amazing things with a hangover.

    Bridget

    • Roger L. Cauvin says

      Yes, I think it would be helpful to change references to “folic acid” to “folate”. I was going to share a link to this entry with a friend but didn’t want to confuse her with incorrect information stating that liver is a source of folic acid.

  37. says

    I eat 100 grams of raw liver for breakfast. I make it into a pate with garlic, coconut cream, tahini and lime juice… blend it in a magic bullet blender.

  38. davehall says

    Here in Taiwan where I live locals eat liver….pretty much pork or goose….with lots of ginger. I also get my liver fix from imported cans of pork liver at the French owned supermarkets here. This combined with lots of green vegetables…..lots of mustard greens here….garlic…..hot peppers….liver once or twice a week…keeps my anemia improved…..I do make use of their national health insurance and this includes Chinese herbal medicine….anyways, just speaking for myself….I know liver is fatty….but after a year of living here I have lost thirty pounds….more to go but heh….

  39. Edith says

    I have a 10 yr old boy and an 8 yr old girl. They take cod liver oil, one pill a day. How much liver and how often do you recommend for them? I’m going to try the freezing method but I read you have to let if freeze for 14 days to kill parasites. Also, I’ve asked by butcher to ground the liver (looks really bad) and I mix it with grassfed beef and make burgers. Kids don’t notice. How much is recommended for kids? Thanks!

  40. SleepyFish says

    This article is false, on the chart it says that carrots have NO VITAMIN A… but carrots are rather high in vitamin A… this article isn’t full of facts, although Liver, I’m sure is very valuable in nutrients, since its one of the first things wild animals go for when they’ve made a kill.

    Whoever wrote this needs more education or needs more FACTS.

    • Carrots may have vitamin A but, says

      Yes from what I understand the vitamin A in carrots or any vegetables aren’t actually the same vitamin A from meat,its rather a precursor to vitamin A,its converted in the body,but humans aren’t good convertors of vitamin A,we leave that to the animals,so animals provided a better source of Vitamin A.

      SO Even though carrots may have vitamin A. It’s not the actually vitamin A,does that make sense?

  41. jack says

    If your going to eat liver eat organic liver. liver is the organ that filters toxins. If its not organic all the antibiotics and steroids they give livestock is in it. In addition meat is bad for you and it will never be a better source of protein vitamins and minerals than vegetables. Combine the creamy pink texture of pinto beans with a whole grain such as brown rice and you have a virtually fat-free high quality protein meal

      • mhikl says

        A Beatle wife and a main member died of cancers from vegan diets. Sadly, we wait to see how Paul fares. A famous Japanese microbiologist had cancer but seemed to recover though neither his wife nor daughter were so fortunate. Many are moved by their hearts and beliefs to the detriment of clear thinking and longer lives. They like to twist the truth by comparing their life styes to the general diet of their culture, claiming meat to be the evil difference. Dreams alone do not save the body or soul.

  42. Sahil says

    In India, we don’t eat beef as the meat is largely taboo among Hindus and even other religions. But goat, lamb and sheep meat is widely available. I was wondering if goat/lamb liver offers the same nutrition density as beef liver. BTW, goat liver is very delicious and it really packs a punch when you’re hungry and craving something meaty.

    • mhikl says

      Those are very healthy meats, Sahil. When dining out and wanting food from the East, I prefer Pakistani food. A Hindu friend told me Indian food was mostly vegetarian and so they do not have the preparation experience of their more carnivorous neighbours to the north. My first dining on goat is a memory still alive in my salivary glands. I can’t cook it worth eating so a jaunt to the Kabob Hut in NE Calgary is a must go when the urge set upon me with furry.

  43. says

    I grew up eating liver as a kid, but now I have a hard time stomaching it. So I obtain a frozen grass fed liver and dice it up and swallow it whole. It gives me lots of energy!

  44. says

    As a Certified Technician In Whole Food Nutrition I am only too aware of the importance of organ meats. I am lucky enough to have grown up in Italy, in a food culture that considered feeding liver and brains to your kids a staple diet, not pizza and hotdogs. having grown up with those flavors I do love them now, but as an educator and cook I have also learned to make my organ meats so tasty that nobody can object to them. Even kids.
    I have many liver and heart recipes on my blog The Nourished Caveman, if it can help anybody get some love for them as good food!!

    • Torben Deumert says

      Turkey liver is higher in Vitamin A than beef liver (about 27,000 IU compared to about 17,000 IU), but it is not higher in B12 (about 20 mcg compared to 60 mcg).

      Note: All numbers per 100g raw liver (USDA Food DB Ids: 05177 and 13325)

      Besides: When comparing all essential nutrients, raw beef liver is about twice “as good” as raw turkey liver. Beef liver has about 1.4 times the amino acid, 1.5 times the vitamin and about 3.5 times the mineral content. It only has 1/3 the essential fatty acid content, but both are poor there. That said, the distribution of nutrients is significantly better in turkey liver when it comes to vitamins and minerals (but not when it comes to amino acids, where both are close to perfect).

      Bottom line: It shouldn’t really matter. Both are pretty damn nutrient dense. And even beef liver has like 5.5 times the RDA for Vitamin A per 100g. So even 100g/3.5oz of beef liver per week would give you about 80% of your RDA.

  45. Harbinger62 says

    Chris,

    I think it is important to mention that the liver is where waste products and toxins from the animal are filtered through. I would buy only organic, grass fed, not grain fed liver. Thank you for all you do to help us to improve our health and well being!

  46. Sebastien says

    In France, I was raised eating organ meat once a week. When I moved to the US 8 years ago, at the local farmers’ market, they were giving us the liver for free. (It took us some times to realize that it was because they thought we were looking for cheap stuff to feed pets.) Now, the liver price at the farmers market has raised crazy and I sometimes selfishly regret the days when Americans were disgusted by organ meat…!

  47. mhikl says

    I have come to love raw beef and lamb. Liver took a little time getting used to but I worked down from lightly flash fried liver (pre cut into thin strips) in coconut oil or beef fat. The end result was lightly cooked outer shell and inside succulently raw. A little oyster sauce, drop of sesame oil, as sprinkle of salt and pepper and shadows of nirvana flash across the subconscious. Well, maybe a little extreme but I do love the flavour of raw meat and was truly moved to prayer to thank the givers of their lives for my benefit. Not even a thanksgiving pray in church has ever been so hear-felt and definitely not as spiritually moving.

    Our ancient ancestors must have eaten meat in its raw form and cooked over some fire got by lightning. The flavour of cooked meat is divine but so is the flavour of raw but the understatement of warm raw meat and the light, invigorating flavour of animal fat just as intoxicating, in a mellower manner.

    On a high fat (ketogenic) diet with some protein and very few carbohydrates my health has improved, body odour is gone and my skin I’m told looks refreshing and youthful for a man twenty years my junior. As a male, other than an expression of health, I don’t really care. But signs are good and I will take them as they come. My bowels and the results of their labours are as they were in my twenties now. Another good sign. Skin, bowels and odour says a lot about one’s health.

    Does this mean such a diet will work for everyone? I doubt it. I have followed Dr D’Adamo since his book came out in the late 90s and I have seen his declarations in work. A bloods do seem to prefer carbs and abhor fat. O’s the exact opposite once addictions to sugars are overcome. However, a very good friend at the time had been adopted and all other family members are O blood types. She was A and yet relished liver like the carnivore I am. Still, we disliked and liked opposite foods, in the vegetable family in particular, and eating out was fun and more filling as we scoffed the veggies the other held disinterest.

    Gary Taubes is a little younger than I, looks to be in better shape than I yet his specs he published are not as good as mine, by a long shot, actually. Maybe Mr Taubes needs a little less fat and some extra carbs in his diet? But who’s to say. We must each treat our body as our personal laboratory and from that point of view, only the truth can be found by an honest wo/man.

    • says

      Very well said mhikl, I totally agree with you! Being an O type myself, I know the non-guilty pleasures of raw meats and the benefits to my health!

      Harbinger 62
      You are only partially correct, toxins are filtered in the liver but not stored. Toxins are mostly stored in the fat tissues of the body. That said I would 100% agree on eating only organic, pastured liver, also as an ethical principle!

  48. David Gauthier says

    What about the danger of consuming excess copper if eating over a quarter pound of beef or lamb liver a week as found in “Perfect Health Diet” page 309?

  49. says

    I have a question. I want to try pate but I’m wondering where people buy it. It’s expensive on amazon plus I don’t know of anyone who actually eats it. So no one can recommend a good brand for me. I would love suggestions!

    TIA

  50. says

    I just started back eating red meat after about 20 years, but even when I was orginally eating red meat Liver (and onions) was the enemy. I was happy to find a place in NoCal that sold grassfed dessicated liver pills so that I can add them to my diet without trying to force feed myself liver. I also see a lot of people dessicating liver themsleves or doing the freeze method.

  51. Luzmín says

    Thank you for the post Chris. Very informative as usual. Just chopped some grass fed liver and added some to my slow cooker beef stew. Your suggestion to blend it into other meat dishes is great. I know I should have listened to my mother about eating liver. She was so right.

  52. says

    I’m not sure if you covered this in other comments already but liver is not only a concern for hypervitaminosis A but active retinol/retinyl esters in liver and animal meats have been shown to increase bone resorption/osteoclast activity and inhibit osteoblasts in non-cancellous bone. Individuals with higher preformed vitamin A intake have been shown to be at higher risk for fracture.

    Not saying any liver consumption is bad but you definitely need to take this into account when advising individuals to consume liver on any regular basis.

    • Torben Deumert says

      @Kevin:
      I wonder if that has anything to do with low vitamin d status.

      And I am not very impressed by what I read about vitamin a and fracture rates, yet.

      One example: “Excessive Dietary Intake of Vitamin A Is
      Associated with Reduced Bone Mineral Density
      and Increased Risk for Hip Fracture”

      They say that fracture rates are higher in northern Europe that in the rest of Europe and attribute it to higher vitamin a intake. They compare some fracture rates (without giving the real numbers) and claim that “Known risk factors cannot explain these observations”. Yet, the “known risk factors” link to a paper, which does not include vitamin d and/or k2 intake, but things like height, smoker yes/no, caffeine intake, taking estrogen yes/no and “selth-reported health status”.

      They then used – of course – a questionnaire, which “asked women to report their usual intake of 60 foods during the past 6 months. In addition to requesting information on dietary habits, it also asked for participants’ self-reported
      current weight and height, marital status, parity, and educational level.”

      I am sorry, but I could not even report my food intake of today with any meaningful accuracy (accurately enough that I would be comfortable to use the data in a study), let alone my food intake of last week. So I don’t even want to think how accurately those women could report their food intake for the past 6 months.

      If anyone knows of any kind of study or proposed mechanism on how “high” vitamin A/retinol intake leads to higher fracture rates independent of vitamin D (and maybe K2) status, please post a reference to the paper. This is not something I have read a lot about, but given that A, D and K2 seem to have a synergistic relationship, I would much prefer to read a paper which investigates the effect of vitamin A or D on fracture rates without completely ignoring the existence of the other one.

      • Janelgo says

        There is a lot of articles being thrown out there on Vitamin D, Vitamin K, Calcium, etc., and it is becoming very confusing. The most recent article I read was that Magnesium was the bone builder! I have Spondylolisthesis and it is really important for me to protect my bones, but all these conflicting articles as to what REALLY builds bones, has my head spinning. Is there anyone with the expertise and knowledge that can clear this up for me?

  53. Matt says

    We eat liver quite often. In fact my wife makes a chopped (chicken) liver that we can’t keep in the house as my 12 year old daughter snacks on it all the time. All a matter of making sure where the liver comes from, and let’s just say it ain’t Perdue.

  54. Janelgo says

    I am looking at this plate of liver and onions being served with avocado. I read recently, that you were not suppose to eat good fats with protein. Is that true?

  55. Maureen says

    I have celiac/hashimotos and consume 2 teaspoons of green pastures cod liver oil daily. That said..is it okay to eat 4 oz servings of liver 3 days per week? Very grateful for all you do. Thanks.

  56. my opinion says

    You need a very small amount of liver. It truly is a superfood. I’m reading Cure Tooth Decay by Nagel and its probably the most important book on teeth health every written as he takes research from so many areas and distills it for us. Liver is one of the best things for the teeth you can consume. Pure, organic, raw liver of course. What might be even better is insects though 99% of people would might take a while to accept that. Breed them yourself to ensure quality. Focus on the ones that won’t infest your home in case they escape and also the ones that reproduce the fastest. No smell is nice. Some smell, most don’t. Grab some old aquarium that leaks for nothing and use that. It’ll work fine. Feed them quality leftovers from you eating. Won’t cost a penny.

  57. says

    I raise rabbits – is there somewhere I can find the values for rabbit livers? I save them when I butcher them, but haven’t used them yet…

  58. Jim Wagner says

    All the links to the Weston Price Foundation lead to a 404 page. You need to update.

    Also, you say that it is “essential” that the liver come from grass fed animals. Is it really essential? Not everyone has access to such meat, and not everyone who does can afford it. There are also those living abroad who may not have access to grass fed.

  59. Julie says

    Thanks for the great post, Chris. I ate organ meat occasionally. After reading the post, I plan to eat much more regularly. However, I am still troubling for high cholesterol these organs have, even though they are rich with many other vitamins and minerals.

    Is there an explanation for the safety to eat good amount of organ meats?

    Thanks

  60. Buddy Jimmy Dunn says

    I googled, “is it okay to eat liver when you have ‘acid reflux’ problems?” I read many of these comments and still don’t know if there is an answer. Could someone be specific and please try to answer the question? I love liver.

  61. Buddy Jimmy Dunn says

    I googled, “Should I eat liver if I have symptoms of acid reflux?” And – it carried me to this site. I don’t see anything that answers that question for me. Can you give me a specific answer to that question only? Love my liver. Thanks much.

  62. adz says

    Used to eat liver all the time as a kid, and have just recently got back into it. My farmer/butcher gives it tome for free, as he says nobody buys it and so he has to pay to have it taken away. My favorite method is a slow cooker, with vegies, beans lentils, chickpeas, molasses and apple cider vinegar plus salt and pepper of course. I also throw in a small amount of red meat. Gorgeous and lasts all week! Any liver that won’t fit in the freezer goes to the foxes at the bottom of the garden, who seem to love it as well!

  63. Dana says

    “In fact, you might be surprised to learn that in some traditional cultures, only the organ meats were consumed. The lean muscle meats, which are what we mostly eat in the U.S. today, were discarded or perhaps given to the dogs.”

    That’s because in traditional cultures, humans were hungry all the time and packing on weight was advantageous for survival. Now that the majority of people are overweight or obese, lean (lower fat, lower Calorie) meat is more appropriate.

    Due to the dominant problem of excess Calories in modern society, you cannot simply ignore the nutrients PER CALORIE when advising people what to eat. Fruits and veg give you more bang for your buck, as well as delivering far more fiber than meat (beef liver: 0 g!); fiber has its own health merits, and increases feelings of fullness.

  64. Julia says

    I have high cholesterol with gallbladder removal. My family has history for high cholesterol.

    It seems the liver is a nutrient-rich food. Is it safe for person like me to eat liver (organ meat) which is cholesterol-rich food?

    Help please?

  65. Carl says

    I’ve been taking desiccated liver tabs. It’s concentrated liver and all the fat and connective tissue is removed. The pills are huge, almost two grams each, but I can choke down a few at a time. Body builders have been taking this stuff for a very long time. I think this supplement can be the cure for many disorders, especially anemia. I recommend it to my family and anyone who chooses to take my advise.

  66. Gail says

    I had Hodgkins Disease diagnosed at the age of 5 years, 55 years ago. Doctors told my parents to make me eat alot of liver back then.
    Most of my life n health habits are extreme on the edge of pro-active. I’ve just started having this ‘want’ (I’m shy to call it a ‘craving’, LOL) for liver. Been eating a few very small pieces of calves’ liver every day for the past few weeks.

    New Recipe tonight that I fixed for myself was pretty good:

    Start with coconut oil in the pan.
    Add some curry and herbs de provence. (Me? I like alot of both)
    One bunch of green onions.
    One small yellow onion.
    1/2 stick of rhubarb.
    Cook it altogether hard for a few moments, then put on low simmer for a few minutes.
    That was it.
    Pretty tasty, I thought.

    I’ll be trying alot of other creations, and will post here if something comes up really well.

    I haven’t eaten liver much at all for over 50 years.
    I drink alot of all sorts of combo green smoothies Mon thru Fri every week.

    I’m anxious to see what this experiment will add to my health profile!

  67. Gail says

    Start with coconut oil in the pan.
    Add some curry and herbs de provence. (Me? I like alot of both)
    One bunch of green onions.
    One small yellow onion.
    1/2 stick of rhubarb.
    Cook it altogether hard for a few moments, then put on low simmer for a few minutes.
    That was it.

    AND DON’T FORGET THE LIVER ;-)

Join the Conversation