Have you ever thought of trying one of the many liver recipes on the net? No? Is it because you can’t get past the ‘Yuck factor’?
I get it – liver is an acquired taste. But don’t worry; learning to love liver isn’t really that hard. Especially after you try one of the mouth-watering recipes listed in this article.
In this article, I’ll debunk some common liver myths that don’t seem to want to die. You’ll also discover why liver is nature’s most potent superfood (one that doesn’t come from exotic countries and can be acquired for a few dollars). And of course, I’ll share recipes you absolutely need to try.
Liver recipes: what’s in it for you?
People are often sceptic when they hear that the liver is a nutrient powerhouse. But numbers don’t lie. Here are all the nutrients you can get from 100g of raw beef liver:
- Protein: 20.36g
- Fat: 3.63g
- Carbohydrate: 3.89g
- Phosphorus: 387mg
- Potassium: 313mg
- Magnesium: 18.0mg
- Copper: 12.0mg
- Calcium: 5.0mg
- Iron: 4.90mg
- Zinc: 4.00mg
- Vitamin A: 16,898IU [Vitamin A, RAE: 4,968μg]
- Vitamin D: 49IU
- Niacin: 13.175mg
- Vitamin C: 1.3mg
- Pantothenic acid: 8.8mg
- Vitamin B6: 1.083mg
- Riboflavin: 4.19mg
- Vitamin E: 0.38mg
- Folate: 290μg
- Vitamin B12: 59.3μg
- Vitamin K: 3.1μg
Health benefits of eating liver
1. Eating liver can help ward off anemia
Discussing the various causes of anemia is beyond the scope of this article. But if you suffer from vitamin B12 or iron deficiency anemia, consuming liver 3 to 5 times per week can help improve your symptoms.
In my practice, I usually advise anemic patients to skip iron supplements and get more liver in their diet. Blood tests usually improve dramatically within a week.
2. Liver contains an anti-fatigue factor
Exhausted? Instead of reaching out for some chemical-laden energy drink, you may want to try eating more liver.
In a lab study, researchers reported that rats who consumed powdered liver were able to swim much longer (from 63 minutes to 2 hours) compared to rats fed a basic rat with or without supplemental vitamin B complex. The rats in the control group swam for an average of 13.3 minutes before giving up.
The ‘mysterious’ nutrient is nothing else but vitamin K2!
3. Eating liver nourishes your liver
Our liver helps to neutralize and eliminate various toxins from the body. (This article describes the innate liver detox mechanisms in more details.)
To do its job effectively, our liver relies on various nutrients including vitamin A, zinc, B vitamins (riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, folate, vitamin B12, and pantothenic acid), glycine, methionine, cysteine, and glutamic acid.
And guess what? You can get all these nutrients by consuming liver!
Now that you know what makes the liver amazing, let’s bust some myths.
Myth 1: Liver recipes? Why would I want to eat toxins?
‘But the liver stores toxins!’
This is the most common response of patients when I tell them to get more liver in their diet. Most people see the liver as a filter that traps and stores toxins and poisons. Therefore, they believe that consuming liver would be like ingesting the animal’s toxins.
But the truth is that the liver is SO much more than a simple filter that accumulates toxins. This stunning organ plays many important roles. For instance, it acts like a ‘chemical processing plant’ which transforms toxins into water-soluble substances that can be easily eliminated from the body.
If the liver is unable to neutralize and eliminate certain toxic substances, the body will store it in fatty tissues and the nervous system.
Moreover, as mentioned earlier, the liver contains various nutrients that can help your liver rapidly get rid of toxins that have accumulated in your body.
Myth 2: Liver recipes are only worth trying if the liver comes from grass-fed, organic, or free-range animals.
Consider yourself blessed if you can get your hands on livers coming from grass-fed or free-range animals. If that’s unavailable, then try organic calves, beef, and chicken liver.
However, if conventional liver is your only option, then it’s still better than no liver at all. If you live in the U.S., opt for conventional calves’ liver – in the U.S., beef cattle are raised on pasture during their first few months.
And remember, although grass-fed and free-range liver are more nutrient dense than conventional liver, even conventional liver is nutrient rich.
This being said, animals raised on pastures in the vicinity of industrial waste dumping grounds are exposed to more heavy metals and pollutants. As such, their livers could hold higher levels of heavy metals and toxins. But so would the muscle meat and all other cuts of the animals.
Myth 3: Pregnant ladies shouldn’t try liver recipes.
Pregnant women are often advised not to eat liver because of its high vitamin A content.
Yes, it is true that some studies indicate that moderate amounts of synthetic vitamin A (that is, supplementing with vitamin A) can cause issues and even birth defects. But the type of vitamin A in the liver is natural and will not cause toxicity since the liver also contains vitamin D and K. These two vitamins work together to prevent vitamin A toxicity.
Moreover, a 1999 study reported no congenital malformations among 120 infants exposed to more than 50,000IU of vitamin A per day.
Myth 4: Liver recipes are unhealthy since they’re loaded with cholesterol.
It is true that the liver is rich in cholesterol. But this will not increase your blood levels of cholesterol. Translation: Eating liver will not increase your risks of heart disease.
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