Many people make a face when the subject of eating liver is discussed, convinced that no one should consume it.
But what they don’t know is how easy liver is to make delicious and how nutritious it really is.
Looking back in history, almost all traditional cultures valued organ meats for their ability to build up the body’s vitality. For instance, native African mothers would give their babies raw liver as a first source of solid food. In some traditional cultures, the liver was even considered to be a sacred food.
Why Eat Liver?
Organ meats, including liver, are rich in the fat-soluble vitamins A and D, essential fatty acids, and many macro and trace minerals.
A deficiency of vitamin A in the diet has been linked to multiple health problems, including disturbances in ovulation, infertility, a resorption of the fetus in pregnant women, lack of coordination, spasms and blindness.
A lack of vitamin D also can lead to many health issues, including the development of rickets, increased risk of cardiovascular disease, an impaired immune system, childhood asthma, and an increased risk of cancer.
Some people have bodies that are unable to make certain essential fatty acids that are needed, and therefore they must consume them in their diets. Organ meats, along with chicken egg yolks, fish eggs, and fish oils are excellent sources of the EPA and DHA that are needed by the body. These foods, such as the nutrient-rich organ meats like liver, contain a number of fat-soluble vitamins that are critical for long-term robust health and fertility.
Liver can be a very important preconception and fertility food for both men and women, and pregnancy food for women. The fat-soluble vitamins A and D and the macro- and trace minerals present in organ meats like liver are important for producing healthy and strong babies.
According to the Weston A. Price Foundation, those planning to conceive should consider eating organic liver and other organ meats, as well as taking a cod liver oil supplement and eating other traditional fertility-supporting foods such as seafood, eggs, butter, cream, bone broth, and fermented milk products for at least six months prior to conception.
The Weston A. Price Foundation guidelines for pregnant women include two eggs, raw milk or bone broth, and cod liver oil every day, and eating liver at least once per week. Nursing women should continue to consume liver, eggs and cod liver oil to provide high quality fat-soluble vitamins in their breast milk.
High vitamin A intake is necessary during childhood, but is also a critical nutrient for supporting ideal health and strength throughout adult life.
Can’t You Get Vitamins Elsewhere?
It is very difficult to get sufficient Vitamin A by eating plants alone. This is because the vitamin A (such as beta carotene) that is present in plant foods (such as carrots and sweet potatoes), is actually not true vitamin A, but is actually in a form that must first be converted into the version of vitamin A that the human body can use. Yet quite often, the body doesn’t actually covert these carotenes very efficiently. Conversion of these compounds requires bile salts, fats and vitamin E. Children, infants and people with thyroid disorders do not convert carotenes very well in the body.
Vitamin D can be made in the skin from cholesterol and sunlight, but much of the modern human population receives insufficient sunlight due to our largely indoor lifestyles.
True vitamins A and D in the diet are only present in animal foods such as seafood, liver, butter and eggs.
What About Toxins in Liver?
Many people are concerned about the toxins that might be present in liver. Such a concern embodies the reason why it is important to eat only organic liver from naturally raised animals. While organic liver may still contain some toxic substances, the nutrition that is provided by liver such as copper, zinc, iron and the fat-soluble vitamins A and D far exceed the small amount of toxins that may still exist.
Liver is also a good source of antioxidants that help your own liver to detoxify, so the dangers of any toxins present in organic liver are likely to be minimal.
How Should Liver Be Prepared and Consumed?
Liver should be organic and fresh, or frozen. The surrounding filament should be removed prior to cooking.
To draw out impurities and improve flavor and texture, the liver can be soaked in lemon juice for several hours. Liver can be cut into ¼-inch to 3/8-inch slices and then used to make dishes such as liver and onions, liver and mushrooms, breaded liver, and liver with balsamic vinegar sauce.
If the idea of eating organ meats is challenging for your family, such foods can be “snuck” into a number of dishes to make them palatable and even unnoticeable, while giving them the great nutrition that they need. Grated liver or other organ meats can be added to any ground muscle meat dishes, such as meat loaf or hamburger, and grated liver can be added to brown rice in a casserole.
Do you eat liver? Do you have any preparation tips? Share it in the section below: