Are Organ Meats Healthy?
Organ meats can be a controversial topic these days. Many people have unfavorable reactions to the idea of consuming organs, and for different reasons. While organ meats (offal)were once a common part of many cultures’ traditional diets, they seem to have largely fallen out of favor these days.
Are Organ Meats Healthy?
I have family members who don’t consume organ meats because they don’t think that they are healthy since they filter toxins from the animal’s body. Even those who don’t have a problem with the idea of consuming organs often have somewhat of an aversion to the taste.
What many people don’t realize is that organ meats (especially liver) are nature’s multivitamins. Liver is an excellent source of many nutrients. Chris Kresser has a great post on the topic where he explains:
“Liver is an important source of retinol, which is pre-formed vitamin A. Just three ounces of beef liver contains 26,973 IU of vitamin A,
while pork liver and chicken liver contain 15,306 IU and 11,335 IU, respectively. (3) If you aren’t supplementing with cod liver oil, you’ll probably want to eat liver a couple times a week to make sure you’re getting enough vitamin A, especially if you have skin problems. Folate, choline, and vitamin B12 are three more nutrients that are found
abundantly in liver, and they can be especially important in the context of a Paleo diet. Two Paleo staples – muscle meat and eggs – contain a high proportion of the amino acid methionine, and higher intakes of methionine increase homocysteine production. This increases the need for vitamins B6, B12, folate, betaine, and choline, which recycle homocysteine
Although all meats contain some amount of vitamin B12, liver (especially beef liver) blows everything else out of the water, with almost three times as much B12 as kidney, seven times as much as heart, and about 17 times as much as tongue or ground beef. (6) Choline is concentrated mainly in egg yolks and liver, so if you aren’t eating egg yolks it’s important to get some liver into your diet. And as Chris Masterjohn points out, it can be difficult to get enoughfolate on a Paleo diet without including liver, because other than liver, beans are actually one of the best sources of folate. This is especially true if you eat lots of muscle meat and not enough folate-rich greens.
One of the main nutritional differences among the livers of different animals is copper content. Beef liver contains 14.3mg of copper per 100g, while chicken and pork livers contain less than 1mg. (7) Thus, beef liver is a great choice if you tend towards copper deficiency, but as I mentioned in this podcast, copper excess can also be a problem. Luckily the choline, zinc, and B vitamins in liver significantly reduce the risk of copper toxicity, but if you need to limit copper in your diet, you can always opt for chicken or pork liver instead.”
Organ meats are also one of the four foods recommended in Deep Nutrition for optimal gene function.