Food fads come and go. One year, acai is the must-have superfood, and the next year hemp hearts are in vogue. These days, different experts promote all sorts of so-called superfoods. And while each of these foods has merits, there’s one that stands above the rest. This super-super-food has been eaten by people since ancient times. I’m talking about organ meat – liver, kidney, and heart.
What makes organ meat so special? (And superior to the muscle meat we’re used to eating?) Well, a lot.
As far as nutrient density goes, organ meats are second to none. Gram for gram, they’re the most concentrated source of vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, and essential amino acids. Even though organ meat has fallen out of favor in modern cuisine, this ancient, sacred food is too good for you to be forgotten.
Here are 7 Reasons to Add Organ Meats to Your Diet:
1. Organ Meats for Energy
Vitamin B12 not only helps convert food into glucose for energy, but supports memory, nerve function, and mood. Contrary to popular belief, B12 is not bioavailable in plant food sources and may be one of the reasons millions of Americans are deficient. Obtaining B12 from whole food sources, such as the liver and kidneys, provides the best way for our bodies to utilize this crucial vitamin. The kidney is a particularly high source of Vitamin B12, with just 1oz containing 7.8mcg.
2. Organ Meats for a Pain-Free Life
Promising research shows the protective qualities of omega-3 fatty acids against on-the-rise conditions like arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Organ meats are loaded with the omega-3 fats EPA and DHA, which must be obtained through diet. One 4oz portion of the brain contains about 1 gram of both EPA and DHA.
3. Organ Meats for Radiant Skin
Vitamin A promotes cell turnover, inhibits the activity of sebaceous glands, and prevents comedone formation known to cause acne. Carotenoids, the plant source of Vitamin A, must be converted to the more-usable form, retinol by the gut mucosal barrier – an inefficient process for many as it requires great health of the small intestine. The liver, on the other hand, is the most concentrated source of retinol, with just 2oz containing 22,145 IU. And because Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin, it must be consumed with fat in order to be absorbed and utilized – just another reason why organ meat is a better source than plants.
4. Organ Meats for a Robust Immune System
Vitamin D plays a key role in supporting our immune function and is extremely hard to get through food. If you’re not supplementing with Vitamin D and spend the majority of your time indoors, it’s likely you’re deficient.
However, not all Vitamin D is equally beneficial – The bioavailability of D3 (cholecalciferol), the most biologically active form of Vitamin D, is far superior to that of D2 (ergocalciferol), as research has proven. Organ meats have some of the highest concentrations of naturally occurring vitamin D (D3) with liver and cod liver oil at the forefront.
5. Organ Meats for Cardiovascular Health
CoQ10 is a super nutrient which plays a vital role in energy production and the prevention of oxidative stress. CoQ10 has been shown to reduce blood pressure, improve arterial health, and dramatically cut the risk of heart failure. Rather than starting a CoQ10 supplement, the most cost-effective and efficient way to add CoQ10 to your diet is by consuming beef heart, as it contains 4 times the amount found in muscle meat.
6. Organ Meats for Optimal Joint Health
Amino acids are vital for nearly every biological process in the body – and especially for healthy joints. The heart contains twice as much collagen and elastin as does muscle meat (which means it is rich in the amino acids glycine and proline) and is essential for connective tissue and joint health. Just 3.5 ounces of the beef heart contains 28.5 grams of amino acid-rich protein, compared to just 19 grams in 3.5 ounces of grass-fed beef.
How To Make Organ Meat a Consistent Part of Your Diet
Most people are so put-off by the very idea of eating organ meats, that they can’t even complain about the taste – as they’ve never actually tasted them! However, once you’ve mentally pushed that aside and you actually taste organ meats (and feel better), I promise you’ll find it isn’t as bad as you might have expected.
And if the thought of eating liver, heart, or kidneys is more than you can handle, there are some alternatives to eating organ meats conventionally that can provide the same benefits. Whether your complaint is the flavor, texture, or inconvenience – I’ve got a solution that will put organ meats on your plate (or at least in your stomach).
Favorite Ways to Consume
1 – Home-Made Liver Pills for the Taste Averse
- Chop liver (or kidney) into small, pill-sized pieces and spread on parchment paper
- Place small pieces onto parchment paper and freeze for 15 minutes (prevents sticking in the jar for next step)
- Transfer to freezer-safe container and freeze for at least 14 days before consuming.
- Swallow 1-2 pieces daily (choose based on specific dietary needs)
2 – Fermented Cod Liver Oil (FCLO)
Fermented cod liver oil is a powerful supplement backed by a ton of studies. It’s made from whole cod livers, which are fermented to extract the oil (instead of using heat). It’s rich in omega-3 fatty acids (even more than regular fish oil), Vitamin A, and Vitamin D. When combined with grass-fed butter (like in this supplement), it’s also a source of the hard-to-obtain Vitamin K2.
3 – Organ Sausage
If you’re a hands-off person, buying high-quality organ sausage is a great way to get in your weekly offal. Here are some of my favorites:
- Beef Braunschweiger is the best choice for those new to organ sausage. It’s made with a 60/40 mix of ground beef and beef liver – meaning it has a milder organ-meat flavor. It’s fully cooked and ready to eat.
- Liverwurst is a blend of liver, heart, kidneys and beef. It’s the most popular organ sausage and provides a great diversity of nutrients. It has a strong, but not unpleasant flavor. Add this to soups and hot dishes, consume with eggs, or solo for a nutrient-dense snack.
- Headcheese is a beef sausage that contains heart and tongue – no cheese. It is seasoned with onion, pepper, and coriander – so it has a lot of flavor! It is fully cooked (you just need to slice it), making it great for quick breakfast or lunch on the go.
4 – Liver and Beef Hamburgers
This is my favorite way to get people started eating organ meats (and how my own family often eats offal). Using a food processor, grind organ meat, one onion, and spices of your choice until they are well-blended. Add in ground beef and pulse until combined. If you use more liver than beef, your burgers will have a distinct organ-meat flavor – so I usually use beef and liver in a 3:1 ratio. Once all the ingredients are combined, you can form them into patties or meatloaf and cook whatever way you prefer.
One other tip? Getting your hands wet makes forming the patties easier, as the liver carries more moisture than ground beef and can be sticky.
5 – Recipes For the Adventurous
Heart or tongue are great organ meats to start with when trying a new recipe because the texture is similar to steak. Here are my tips for making any offal recipe a success:
- Soaking organ meat in lemon juice will help draw out impurities and improve taste and texture. Simply place your cut up liver in a bowl, barely cover with water and add the juice of one lemon. Soak for a few hours and pat dry prior to cooking
- Resist the urge to overcook. Well-done organ meats have a tough texture that’s hard to swallow (literally).
- Don’t forget to add spices and herbs to enhance the flavor.
- If you’re just starting to cook organ meats, follow recipes exactly. Cooking organ meats can be very different from preparing muscle meats.
How Much Organ Meat Should I Eat and Where Do I Get It?
The short answer is a general recommendation of two 4 oz servings per week. The longer answer is that it depends based on the individual’s diet and unique needs.
Over half the U.S. population is failing to meet the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for vitamin A, vitamin B6, magnesium, calcium, and zinc – all of which are vital nutrients provided by organ meats. Adding just one ounce of beef liver to your diet more than meets the minimum RDA Vitamin A requirements for both men and women.
As for the source of your organ meats? High-quality, local grass-fed, and finished products are first on my list. If you’re not sure of local sources in your area, please go to Eat Wild as they provide a directory for the U.S., Canadian, and International farms and ranches. All you have to do is search your area and options will come up for you to choose from.
If you don’t live near a trustworthy source of grass-fed organ meats, US Wellness Meats is my next recommendation. They offer deliveries of really high-quality, grass-fed, and finished meats and poultry of all types.
Going Back to the Basics
Modern America has seemingly reduced the power of food to taste, cost, and convenience. And in doing so, we’ve eliminated nutrient powerhouses like organ meats along the way. If we consider all the mounting research on traditional diets and the non-existence of diseases that now plague our times, we can quickly conclude that organ meats are strongly connected.
But whether you’re going to begin exploring the world of organ meats via hands-on preparation or simply start taking a supplement, whatever you do just don’t ignore this amazing food.
Article Credit: https://healthygut.com/7-health-benefits-of-organ-meats/