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|
|Folate||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|