Recently a close friend said she used to LOVE liver and onions, but stopped eating it years ago after hearing that it’s not safe, because it’s the organ that filters toxins from our bodies and we are then ingesting those toxins.
How sad! Not only because that’s not even true, but also, anyone who is lucky enough to love it should eat this superfood as much as possible!
So what makes liver so wonderful?
Quite simply, it contains more nutrients, gram for gram, than any other food. In summary, liver provides:
- An excellent source of high-quality protein
- Nature’s most concentrated source of vitamin A
- All the B vitamins in abundance, particularly vitamin B12
- One of our best sources of folic acid
- A highly usable form of iron
- Trace elements such as copper, zinc and chromium; liver is our best source of copper
- An unidentified anti-fatigue factor
- CoQ10, a nutrient that is especially important for cardio-vascular function
- A good source of purines, nitrogen-containing compounds that serve as precursors for DNA and RNA.
Is liver dangerous?
In spite of widespread tradition and abundant scientific evidence on the health benefits of liver, conventional nutritionists and government agencies now warn against its consumption. The putative dangers of eating liver stem from two concerns–the assumption that liver contains many toxins and the high level of vitamin A that it provides.
One of the roles of the liver is to neutralize toxins (such as drugs, chemical agents and poisons); but the liver does not store toxins. Poisonous compounds that the body cannot neutralize and eliminate are likely to lodge in the fatty tissues and the nervous system. The liver is not a storage organ for toxins but it is a storage organ for many important nutrients (vitamins A, D, E, K, B12 and folic acid, and minerals such as copper and iron). These nutrients provide the body with some of the tools it needs to get rid of toxins.
Of course, we should consume liver from healthy animals–cattle, lamb, buffalo, hogs, chickens, turkeys, ducks and geese. The best choice is liver from animals that spend their lives outdoors and on pasture. If such a premier food is not available, the next choice is organic chicken, beef and calves liver. If supermarket liver is your only option, the best choice is calves liver, as in the U.S. beef cattle do spend their first months on pasture. Beef liver is more problematical as beef cattle are finished in feed lots. Livers from conventionally raised chicken and hogs are not recommended.
As for concerns about vitamin A, these stem from studies in which moderate doses of synthetic vitamin A were found to cause problems and even contribute to birth defects. But natural vitamin A found in liver is an extremely important nutrient for human health and does not cause problems except in extremely large amounts.
What if you’re NOT lucky enough to love it, though?
Well you could try this recipe where my family ate it and had no clue: I ate liver and loved it, oh yes I did!
But we don’t eat that recipe or any liver recipes like we should, soooooooo…
We make sure to get in loads of fermented cod liver oil and dessicated liver capsules. (Here’s where you can buy good brands of both.) This is very important, especially if you’re not eating liver a couple times a week.
Someone asked in the comments “how much is ‘loads’?”
Here is my post with information on cod liver oil amounts to take. Our problem around here is remembering to be consistent. For the liver caps, just take whatever it recommends on the bottle. But remember that with both of these, they are not pharmaceuticals, they are food supplements, so taking more isn’t going to hurt you, and it’s actually good to get in more if you’re sick or trying to heal from something.
I thought I’d share more recipes with you from the Real Food Media bloggers:
- Christine’s: Offally clever: how to sneak liver into your family’s diet
- Cara’s: Superfood muffins: liver, beef and garlic
- Shannon’s: 5 tips for cooking liver that had my husband going back for seconds
- Jenny’s: Chicken liver pate
- Ann Marie’s: Balthazars chicken liver mousse
- Kim’s: Liver and onions
- Heather’s: Ultimate beef liver chili
- Angelle & Susan’s: Liver pate with cranberries
- Kristen’s: Pizza chili recipe
- Kimberly’s: Easy liver pate recipe
- Emily’s: Raw liver shooters
- Sarah’s: Chicken pate video
Add your favorite liver tricks, tips or recipes in the comments!