Organ meats have been prized for millions of years by native cultures because they are rich in vitamins and minerals. These tribes also knew the importance offal for fertility and childbearing. I did not grow up eating liver or organ meats but I am trying to have them on a more regular basis as part of a nutrient rich diet. Liver is very affordable when compared with fancy muscle meats so if you are creative you can have more of this super food which will energize and reinvigorate you.
1.Vitamin A: Just 3.5 oz of liver provides nearly 200% of the daily value of Vitamin A, which is important for healthy skin as well as proper thyroid and immune function. It is vital for growth, development and healthy eyesight. It is important to get animal food sources of vitamin A because the most people cannot convert Beta-carotene to usable vitamin A. It is also important to note that fat is required for the body to synthesize Vitamin A.
2. Liver supplies DHA important for brain and nervous system health.
3. Riboflavin: Just under 1/2 cup of liver provides 100% of the daily value of Riboflavin (B-2), which is important for high energy production and healthy mucous membranes.
4. Folate: 3.5 oz of liver has nearly 147% of folate, which is important for a healthy pregnancy, proper fetal development and proper reproductive function. Folate is also crucial in preventing anemia, gingivitis, digestive system disorders.
5. B-12 (cobalamin) 3.5 oz provides 200% of this anemia-preventing vitamin that is synergistic with folate. It also helps prevent Alzheimer’s type symptoms common in the elderly. This vitamin is only found in animal foods.
6. B-3 (Niacin) Liver is rich in Niacin which is made from tryptophan and important for preventing dementia, dermatitis, and has been shown to be helpful for arthritis. Niacin also keeps the mucosal lining of the intestinal tract healthy preventing diarrhea.
7. B-5 (Pantothenic Acid) is vital for processing fats and carbohydrates as well as lowering triglycerides. It is important for proper adrenal function and is considered an anti-stress vitamin. About a 1/2 cup of liver gives 71% of the RDA of B-5.
8. Minerals: Liver is also rich in vital minerals such as Selenium which is a powerful antioxidant. Rich in Iron, liver is important for proper lung function and is commonly deficient among Americans. Copper, which is important for healthy blood, strong bones, and wound healing. Phosphorus supports healthy teeth/ bones and increases calcium absorption. Commonly low in the elderly, Zinc is crucial for a good sense of smell and male sexual health.
Don’t Like Liver? Liver is nature’s multi-vitamin so If you do not like liver there are many ways to get it in. You can chop it up into ground beef, put it into a stew/soup or dice into spaghetti sauce. You can also freeze it for a month then slice it into slivers and swallow like a pill. Read more about the benefits of liver from Chris Kresser here. Always use pastured and organic poultry or grass fed beef liver.
Where to buy good liver?
US Wellness Meats has some wonderful veal liver and bison liver. You can check Eat Wild to find a local farm near you. One of my favorite places to buy liver in San Francisco are The Fatted Calf on Gough and Fell in Hayes Valley. Also Marin Sun Farms has local grass fed beef liver and Pastured chicken liver. Both of these butchers have stalls at the Ferry Building on Saturday mornings.
1/4 cup and 1Tbsp grass fed butter Ingredients:
1 lb organic and pastured duck liver
2 shallots sliced
4 cloves sliced garlic
2 tsp thyme
1 tsp crushed bay leaves
1 Tbsp dried rosemary
2 tsp dry mustard powder
2 Tbsp organic raw apple cider vinegar
Sea salt to taste
Fresh ground pepper to taste
Fresh raw veggies for dipping
Saute the shallots, garlic, salt and pepper in one tbsp of fat for 3- 5 minutes on medium. Then add the duck liver (make sure to drain off any liquid). Saute 5- 7 more minutes, then add herbs/spices and vinegar. Let the vinegar cook off. Add to the food processor. Immediately add the fat slowly in chunks. You need the heat from the livers to melt the fat. Pulse the food processor several times until the desired consistency is reached. Add to glass storage container and chill for two hours. Sometimes I eat this warm because I can't wait. It is up to you. If you can not eat dairy just substitute the butter for pastured poultry fat or bacon fat. I serve it with endive leaves, carrots, red pepper slices, or cucumber rounds. Top pate with parsley or chives and serve. For a great chicken liver recipe check Balanced Bites here.
1. Gedgaudas, N. (2011). Primal Body, Primal Mind. Rochester: Healing Arts Press.
2. Murray, Micheal. Dr. (2005). Healing Foods. New York: Atria Books.