It might surprise you to hear that liver is the new superfood.
Really? Liver? If you’re like most people, you probably wouldn’t think twice about eating steak or ribs but resist the idea of eating internal organs. It could even be something your mom or your grandmother served up, and you pushed it around the plate until you were made to eat it under the threat of no dessert. Earlier generations used liver as a staple meat, but more recently, we’ve avoided it.
But prepared to cut liver some slack. The more you find out about liver, the more you’ll want to overcome your childhood reaction and give liver a second chance.
Why is Liver Good for You?
Liver is actually incredibly dense in nutrients. So much so that the University of California Berkeley has said that ounce for ounce, liver is probably more nutritious than any other food. As well as being packed with protein and amino acids, liver is full of the iron necessary to prevent anemia.
Liver is a super concentrated source of retinol, the active form of Vitamin A which is only derived from animal-based foods, and which your body can absorb straightaway, unlike plant-based Vitamin A. Vitamin A is a powerful antioxidant and crucial for reducing bodily inflammation. It’s also needed for vision, healthy skin, the thyroid, bones, and strong immune system.
Liver is also chock-full of B Vitamins including folate, biotin, and Vitamins B6 and B12. They’re important for cell formation and health, especially for red blood cells. Including liver in your diet will help prevent Vitamin B deficiency, which manifests as fatigue, muscle weakness, impaired cognitive function, and mood swings. Folate is also essential for fertility and achieving and maintaining a healthy pregnancy.
Adding liver to your regular diet will also ensure that you get additional minerals like copper, selenium, and zinc, necessary for a well-functioning metabolism. As an added bonus, liver is a rich source of the potent antioxidant CoQ10, which can help support your cardiovascular and immune systems.
Is Liver Keto and Paleo-Friendly?
Liver is both keto and paleo-friendly and can easily be incorporated into your regular low carb diet. It is mainly high-quality protein, and as a protein-dense food, it will take your body longer to digest, keeping you feeling satisfied and reducing hunger and appetite.
Isn’t Liver Toxic?
You may be concerned that liver is full of toxins, since dealing with waste and toxins is one of its main roles in the body. Rest assured, while liver cleans up toxins, it doesn’t store them. Its job is purely to process and purify. The liver supports the body’s detoxing system, and it is often recommended as part of a detoxifying regime for that very reason. Liver is definitely safe to eat.
What’s the Easiest Way to Eat Liver?
You may not be quite ready to eat some pan-seared liver slices straightaway. It’s totally fine to start small and hide it in your more familiar recipes like meatballs, spaghetti sauce or hamburgers. Just mix in some chopped or ground liver into your ground beef, and maybe add some extra paprika, garlic, and herbs to boost the flavor mix. Liver is the main ingredient in pates. You can also include it in terrines, casseroles, pies, and stews. It will add depth and flavor to your favorite recipes.
Make sure you choose liver that is organic and guaranteed grass-fed and grown organically, for maximum vitamins and minerals.
Some people swear by adding a little cubed liver to their smoothies, or even raw liver smoothie shots mixing a little pureed frozen liver with strawberries or cherry juice. I like to make it into cubes that I thaw out overnight and eat every morning. Also, here is a liver cleansing smoothie that I like.
If you can’t face eating liver as a meat, you can still get the benefits by taking desiccated liver capsules or powder. These are readily available in your local health food store or online. Take as you would your regular supplements, or add the powder to gravies, stews, soups or casseroles. You can find them HERE or HERE (use coupon code REALFOOD for 10% off!)
What Kind of Liver is Best?
Chicken, duck, turkey, and lamb livers have the mildest flavor. Beef and veal are stronger and larger and are usually used for grilled or seared dishes like liver and onions. Pig’s liver can have an overpowering taste and is probably best avoided unless you really like the flavor.
Is There Anyone Who Shouldn’t Eat Liver?
Liver’s high Vitamin A content can cause problems if eaten in large amounts. Vitamin A is fat-soluble and can be stored in the body’s tissues. This can become a problem if too much Vitamin A accumulates, leading to nausea, headaches, dizziness, and joint pain.
Nutritionists have expressed concern that pregnant women should not consume too much Vitamin A. It’s fine to include a little liver in your diet, but not too much and not too often. People who suffer from gout are also advised to avoid eating liver. This is due to the purines in liver that form uric acid in the body, which can trigger a gout attack.
As with any other food, you should eat liver as part of a balanced diet. Nutritionists recommend a four-ounce serving once or twice a week to get optimum benefit.
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