Liver: Nature's Most Potent Superfood | Chris Kresser
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Liver: Nature’s Most Potent Superfood

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Adding things like beef liver and onions to your diet is a nutritional win. iStock.com/freeskyline

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 meatsespecially 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)
Calcium3.0 mg3.3 mg11.0 mg11.0 mg
Phosphorus6.0 mg31.0 mg140.0 mg476.0 mg
Magnesium4.8 mg6.2 mg15.0 mg18.0 mg
Potassium139.0 mg222.0 mg370.0 mg380.0 mg
Iron.1 mg.6 mg3.3 mg8.8 mg
Zinc.05 mg.3 mg4.4 mg4.0 mg
Copper.04 mg.08 mg.18 mg12.0 mg
Vitamin ANoneNone40 IU53,400 IU
Vitamin DNoneNoneTrace19 IU
Vitamin E.37 mg.11 mg1.7 mg.63 mg
Vitamin C7.0 mg6.0 mgNone27.0 mg
Thiamin.03 mg.05 mg.05 mg.26 mg
Riboflavin.02 mg.05 mg.20 mg4.19 mg
Niacin.10 mg.60 mg4.0 mg16.5 mg
Pantothenic Acid.11 mg.19 mg.42 mg8.8 mg
Vitamin B6.03 mg.10 mg.07 mg.73 mg
Folate8.0 mcg24.0 mcg4.0 mcg145.0 mcg
BiotinNone.42 mcg2.08 mcg96.0 mcg
Vitamin B12NoneNone1.84 mcg111.3 mcg

459 Comments

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      • 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?

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

    • 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.

      • 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.

      • 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.

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

    • 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.

      • 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

        • 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.

      • 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.

  3. 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 

  4. 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.

  5. 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).

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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

  9. 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.

    • 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.

  10. 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

    • 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.

  11. 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

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

    • 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?

      • 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.

      • 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.

      • 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.

  14. 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

    • 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

        • 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?

          • 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!

          • 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!

    • 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.

      • 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.

      • 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.

      • 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).

      • 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.

      • 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

      • 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.

    • 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.

      • 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.

  15. 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.

    • Much as I don’t like the ‘idea’ of eating animals, I know from experience that after a year of not eating meat (I ate animal products like eggs milk and cheese) I felt absolutely awful. On discovering the Atkins diet, my health, stamina and strength improved beyond recognition. No acid-reflux and no food cravings. We were definitely not designed to eat only fruit and vegetables and `the fact that we can eat meat and have the teeth to do it with, proves that we should. Where do you get you Vitamin B12? And don’t say spironella, because that myth has already been put to bed – your body can’t absorb it in that form.

  16. 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.

  17. 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

    • 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 😉

      • 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.

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

        • 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.

          • “MY OPINION” offers a half-informed “fear-based” comment on hormones. Hormones cost a farmer money, and they’re given to young animals to make them grow. They are not given when the animal is going to slaughter–they’d be completely wasted. They are metabolized in a few hours to several days–this is why weight lifters quit “steroids” a bit before their blood tests. Unless the farmer gave a milk cow growth hormones just before the animal was slaughtered, there won’t be hormones left in beef liver weeks or months later. The liver’s job is to get rid of them promptly, within HOURS if possible.

            Wild animals may well taste better if they ate a variety of foods, instead of single-item feed, and grew slowly, with time to absorb and incorporate all the nutrients.

      • 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!

        • Thank you for this comment. I have doggedly low ferritin that hardly ever seems to raise. I’ve tried popping frozen raw organic liver pills but they gave me diarrhea until I stopped. Anyway, appreciate reading your comment.

        • No, proof is in the eating.
          “The proof of the pudding is in the eating”.
          Why the “proof” would be “in the pudding” is beyond me.

          • Rusty Brown re ‘proof of pudding is in the eating therof’ As I understand it from my childhood in the 40’s the ‘proof’ related to the amount of alcoholic spirits used in cooking the traditional Christmas pudding desert to finish off the dinner.:)) In some areas this proof made the Christmas “Merry’.

      • 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.

        • 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.

        • 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!!

          • Last night I cooked lamb’s liver for me and mine. Fried some home-grown leeks (cut into little rounds) in coconut oil and butter until just catching. Popped in an oven dish, laid the lamb’s liver slices on top, and covered with a rich gravy. Popped in the oven for 25 minutes, alongside some home-grown parsnips and salsify roasting in a pan. Served with shredded cabbage. Exquisite!

    • 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.

    • 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!

    • 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.

    • A delicious way of serving LIVER: make it into pate…as the French do! Like that, it can easily be eaten every day!

    • I, like NOLA, dehydrate pureed liver at low temp, then powder it and finally put into capsules. Trouble is, I am pretty healthy paleo already and do not get sick, so I’m wondering if I’ll even notice the difference. LOL

  18. 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

    • 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.

      • 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.

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

        • 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.

          • Let’s not carried away. This is complicated. Omega-3’s in phospholipids are one of the largest components, if not THE largest, of cell membranes in the muscle and heart, and brain. Muscle is a combination of many nutrients and body substances, INCLUDING omega-3’s and -6’s.

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

    • 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!

      • 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!

      • 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!

        • 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

          • Nola, I used to eat lambs liver when I lived in England (loved it growing up)……but here in the States I have not been able to find a source for lambs liver. In fact when I’ve asked for it I get some horrified looks from the butcher! Is there anywhere in the States you can purchase lambs liver?

      • 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.

      • Hi Kristine I had gastric bypass may 2013 I love liver and actually am going to cook done for breakfast this morning. Haven’t eaten it in a long time as I’m scared it will be to heavy in my pouch. How do you find it? What’s your method of cooking it?

      • The function of the stomach includes MAKING hydrochloric acid, which ACTIVATES digestive enzymes so we can digest our food, but HCl also makes minerals more dissolvable, so they can be absorbed. Your surgery changed most of these. Iron in meat/liver is more easily absorbed than iron in vegetables, which really need acid to make them only partly absorbed. You can use capsules of apple cider vinegar, which add acid to the stomach, and you can take digestive enzymes before meals. Together, these make it easier for many people to get the nutrition from their foods. Often the digestive enzymes are combined in one capsule, and they’re not very expensive. If much of your stomach was altered, you may only tolerate A BIT of acid–if you get pain it means you’ve taken too much at one time.

    • 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.

      • 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.

        • 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 🙂

        • You should have your Vitamin A levels checked. 3 ounces of liver has more than two times the Tolerable Upper Intake Level at around 6500 ug. When consuming more than 3000 ug/day you are putting yourself at risk for toxicity. Signs to look for: bone pain, joint swelling, dry skin/lips, enlarged liver/spleen, headaches and blurred vision. I see this comment was from quite sometime ago . . . so . . .

      • 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,

        • what about the high cholesterol in liver? if one already has a high cholesterol is this not going to exaggerate the problem?

          • 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

          • Hmmm. Seems to me I read that the tannic acid (tannins) in tea interfere with iron absorption, and they should not be consumed together. One Dr. in England has postulated that the British suffer from anemia because of this, and says no one should take their tea with meals – only between meals.
            So the rumour has it, as I understand.

            • I’m in the UK, drink between 4 -6 cups of tea a day, but never with meals. Not anaemic, but must say I always feel full of energy after a liver dinner!

      • 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.

    • 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

    • 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.

    • Kelly,
      I am very interested in your recipe for your “kid pate” My son is a very picky eater and I am hoping that he will be receptive to this recipe. If you don’t mind sharing, I would love to try it out. Thank you!

      Marlene, MI

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