I tend to dislike the word “superfood” because for many folks, attempts to eat superfoods tend to become a bit tunnel visioned on eating that food for a couple specific “health benefits” rather than focusing on an overall healthy diet. However, when it comes to liver, no label except superfood really does it justice. As surprising as it may sound,
you simply cannot beat the amazing list of nutrients that are so concentrated in liver: Vitamin A, B Vitamins, Vitamin D, and Vitamin K2, Iron, Zinc, Copper, Selenium, Potassium, Phosphorus, Sodium.
This level of nutrition just isn't packed into many other foods. Read Liz Wolfe’s blog post to get a deeper look at the nutrition in liver.
There are several reasons why you might choose to include liver in your diet:
- Increased energy – Vitamin B12 is abundant in liver, in fact just 1 oz of chicken liver has the same amount of B12 as a Red Bull. I hesitate to even make that comparison because the synthetic B12 added to Red Bull does not compare to the natural B12 found in liver… but it proves the energy point. :)
- For pre-conception or prenatal health – Folate is a B vitamin required for DNA production so it is absolutely critical for healthy development of an embryo. Unfortunately, it is a vitamin that is depleted by excessive consumption of refined carbs and sugars. Fortunately, liver is incredibly high in folate!
- To promote antioxidant activity – Vitamin A is an antioxidant, which means it neutralizes free radical activity which causes inflammation, plaque buildup in the arteries, and a whole slew of chronic diseases. Liver is hands down the most abundant food source of Vitamin A.
- Immune health – Liver is a fantastic source of iron, which is necessary for proper immune function. Iron’s primary function in the body is to create hemoglobin found in red blood cells. Fun fact: Heme iron (the name for iron found in meats) and hemoglobin share the root word “Hemo-“ or blood.
Let’s talk about sourcing for a moment -
It is absolutely essential to eat organic, free range, grass fed (if from a cow) liver.
Liz Wolfe puts it well – the liver is a filter, not a storage unit. However, filters can get clogged too, and this is why it is critical to eat liver from an animal that has been raised following humane practices with appropriate feed.
If the nutritional benefits leave you unconvinced to incorporate liver into your diet, the “whole foods” approach might:
I am a firm believer that if we are going to eat meat (which I think we should), as a society we need to return to being comfortable with the fact that chickens are not exclusively breasts and thighs.
If we are to eat meat, we need to pay appropriate respect to the sacrifice of the animal’s life by eating as much of it as possible.
Soooo this is all well and good, but so many of us completely dislike liver… The gag reflex kind of dislike, right? I am with you, or at least I have been. I’m starting to come around to liver (slowly) but my favorite way to include it in the diet is still hidden.
Stay tuned for my next post with a delicious “Hide the Liver” Burger recipe that will not disappoint!
Do you have ways you incorporate liver into your diet? Share in the comments below.