Liver Myths

Many have been misled to believe the liver is a “filter” and thus filters and stores toxins. The liver is actually the body’s “metabolic engine” and its main role is to neutralize toxins (such as drugs, chemical agents and poisons), yet it is not a significant storage place for these toxins. In fact, meat and the body’s fatty tissues accumulate these toxins much more than liver does. It is more accurate to say that the liver provides the nutrients and antioxidants necessary to rid the body of many toxins. That being said, it is true that any animal that is improperly fed and raised in deplorable conditions will have metals and other toxins in its tissues. Again, this is all way more complex than what I am presenting here.

In any case, it’s important to acquire liver from the highest quality pasture raised animals either fresh or frozen. If you are further concerned about toxins in your liver, you can soak it in warm water or milk, and then discard the liquid.

How to Eat Liver in 2017

Cooking liver is a lost art. Most people tend to overcook it which ruins the taste and yields a grainy texture. When prepared properly, fresh liver such as calf’s liver or chicken liver is considered a gourmet delicacy and a true “superfood.” If you don’t have much of a taste for liver, I recommend cooking it in a stew or mixing it into ground beef (80% ground beef and 20% ground liver) and most never even notice a difference in taste. This is a great way to get it into your children’s diet. Other easily available sources of liver are pate, foie gras, liverwurst or braunschweiger. Finally, if there is no way you can handle liver as a real food, there are desiccated liver capsules.

Getting people to eat liver is like asking Trump to show his tax records! It’s crazy, but we have a “natural vitamin” that could help with iron loss, replace B vitamins, Vitamin C, micronutrients and it doesn’t take a crazy amount to achieve all this. I have actually had professional athletes who refused to eat liver, even though it would have bettered their careers by consuming liver a couple of times per week. Peoples resistance to eating liver is incredible, whereas they will eat a skinless piece of chicken all day long. Another factoid is that it is mainly the United States that seems to have a problem with consuming liver and other organ meats. Countries like France and Germany often serve liver with their meals and very often kids like it.

If you are like me, you perhaps remember your mom trying to make you eat liver for dinner once a month. I remember this and admittingly, I don’t recall it being a pleasant experience. Fast forward 20 years and I now know that it was how the liver was prepared and how it was served. Our grandparents knew the value of organ meats, otherwise they would not have passed down the tradition to future generations.

Eating four to six ounces of freshly cooked liver or the equivalent, through a number of other ways is all that is required to receive full health benefits.

 

How To Do It

Number 1: The number one way that you can eat liver is to cook it yourself. Cook liver with fermented soy sauces and other spices and this will make it taste surprisingly good.

Number 2: Epic Liver Bites. These are convenient because it’s as simple as opening the package and eating them. It’s blended with beef, so the taste is milder. Eat a package or two per week and you will be closer to meeting your requirements. I find that most people I work with like Epic Liver Bites. Professional Motocross racer Zach Osborne uses Epic liver bites every week.

Number 3: Use a liver mousse or paté. This is liver that’s been blended with fat, and that does dilute the liver, making it more palatable.  Miesha Tate’s (UFC fighter) favorite way of eating liver is to use water crackers and a liver mousse paté.

According to Chris Masterjohn PhD, a company called Three Pigs, make a duck liver mousse that has enough liver in it that if you eat one package, whether it’s the 5 ½-ounce package, or the 8-ounce package, you’re going to get the equivalent of four to six ounces of liver per week.

Number 4: Liverwurst or braunschweiger contains liver blended in with other meats. I personally use U.S. Wellness Meats liverwurst. It’s 50% liver, kidney, heart, with the rest meat. Kidney and heart have their own spectrum of nutrients. Braunschweiger is 35% liver, so you’d have to eat about three times more of it. Ask your local butcher and find out what they have.

Number 5: Desiccated liver tablets. The amount of liver contained in these supplements can vary a lot according to the size of tablet or capsule. The hard part about desiccated liver tablets is that you would need to take about 10 capsules a day! This is a lot more expensive and cumbersome than just eating liver.

Number 6: If none of the above is happening, then eat egg yolks. Eggs have a surprisingly similar nutrient profile to liver itself.

Be creative and start slow. Eat liver once a week through a of ways and remember the key is to be consistent about what you do.

The Numbers

The chart below lists the micronutrient content of apples, carrots, red meat and beef liver. Note that every nutrient in liver surpasses those found in apple and carrots! In general, organ meats contain up to a 100 times greater nutrients than corresponding muscle meats. Think of eating liver as taking a vitamin.

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 grain feed. Pasture-raised grass fed animal products are ideal and contain more nutrients than animal products that come from commercial feedlots. For example, meat from pasture-raised animals has two to four times more omega-3 fatty acids than meat from grain fed commercially-raised animals. And pasture-raised eggs have been shown to contain up to 15-20 times more omega-3 fatty acids than supermarket eggs! Peter Ballerstedt, PhD has written extensively on this topic and listening to him will open your eyes. In addition to these nutritional advantages, pasture-raised animal products benefit farmers, local communities and the environment.

Nutrient Comparison of Liver, Apple, Carrot, and Red Meat

APPLE (100 g) CARROTS (100 g) RED MEAT (100 g) BEEF LIVER (100 g)
Calories 52 41 187 135
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
Vitamin K 1.1 mcg 17 mcg 2.4 mcg 92 mcg
Vitamin B12 None None 1.84 mcg 111.3 mcg
Vitamin B6 .03 mg .10 mg .07 mg .73 mg
Biotin None .42 mcg 2.08 mcg 96.0 mcg
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
Folic Acid 8.0 mcg 24.0 mcg 4.0 mcg 145.0 mcg

Cites

Booth SL, Sadowski JA, Pennington JAT. Phylloquinone (Vitamin K1) content of foods in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Total Diet Study. J Agric Food Chem 1995,43:1574-79.

Booth SL, Sadowski JA, Weihrauch JL, Ferland G. Vitamin K1 (Phylloquinone) content of foods: A provisional table. J Food Comp Anal 1993;6:109-20

Pennington JA, Church HN: Food Values of Portions Commonly Used, 16th Edition, J.P. Lippincott Company, 1994.