Today I want to talk with you about one of the most nutritious foods on the planet, liver.
Now if you’ve never eaten liver before, you may have just cringed a little bit.
This unusual meal is seldom eaten by Americans these days. That’s too bad, really. Liver is an absolute powerhouse of nutrients, vitamins and minerals.
In fact, gram for gram it’s one of the most nutritious foods on the planet.
It’s very high in protein. Liver also contains an easily absorbed form of iron, all of the B vitamins, and remarkable amounts of vitamin A.
If that weren’t reason enough to consider adding liver to your diet, I have a few more. You can find many more trace elements and minerals in liver.
These include copper, zinc, chromium, phosphorous and selenium. You can also find the essential fatty acids EPA, DHA and AA, as well as the powerful antioxidant CoQ10.
For anyone looking to optimize their health, liver is a must in your diet.
Image Source: en.wikipedia.org — Beef Liver Sashimi
Below, I’ve listed the top three reasons to start eating liver today.
Packed with Vitamin A
Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that plays a critical role in maintaining healthy vision, neurological function and healthy skin.
It’s also a potent antioxidant.
Like all antioxidants, vitamin A is involved in reducing inflammation through fighting free radical damage. (Put simply, it can help keep the aging and disease-management processes in check.)
Vitamin A also provides these three critical health benefits …
Protects eye health
Provides immunity support
Helps prevent cancer
In nature, vitamin A comes in two forms: active vitamin A and beta-carotene.
Active vitamin A comes from animal-derived foods and is called retinol.
You can find beta-carotene in fruits and vegetables. But this red-orange pigment needs to first be converted to active vitamin A in order to be utilized by the body.
The "pre-formed" retinol can be used directly. This makes it the preferred source for your body.
However, retinol is very hard to find in needed quantities. That is, outside of organ meats — specifically liver.
For example, a cup of broccoli only has around 2,500 International Units (IU) of inferior beta-carotene. Meanwhile, just 100 grams of beef liver (think of a deck of cards as the serving size) has around 53,000 IUs of retinol.
So how much liver should you be eating, then?
I’ll get to that in a second.
A Vitamin B12 Monster
One in four U.S. adults is deficient in vitamin B12. And most of the rest are only getting a barely sufficient dose.
Vitamin B12 is essential for energy production, blood formation, DNA synthesis and myelin formation. Myelin is insulation that protects your nerve endings and allows them to communicate with one another.
B12 is not readily available in plants. So if you don’t eat meat or animal products, you are at risk of being deficient in this important nutrient.
The few plants that do contain B12 are actually B12-analogs. That means they block the uptake of true B12. So, your body’s need for the nutrient actually increases.
Another issue with B12 is that you’ll often see B12 supplements in your neighborhood health store. But what they don’t tell you is that these supplements are barely, if at all, absorbed in your digestive system.
This is where liver comes in.
Just 100 grams of beef liver contains around 60 mcg of vitamin B12. That is 988% of the daily value "needed."
Not consuming enough vitamin B12 can lead to a multitude of health issues including, depression, anemia, sleep problems, cardiovascular disease, cancer and fertility issues.
Here’s one more way liver can boost your health …
Loaded with Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)
Another nutrient packed into liver is CoQ10.
CoQ10 is also a powerful antioxidant and immune-booster. It guards against disease-promoting damage to proteins, lipids and DNA.
Mitochondria are the "power plants" of your cells. And CoQ10 is one of the most important nutrients when it comes to keeping those mitochondria healthy.
And you need to keep them healthy. That’s because there’s a strong connection between defects in mitochondria and resulting oxidative stress in the brain.
In other words, a CoQ10 deficiency produces disruptions that can lead to catastrophic consequences. It contributes to many age-related neurodegenerative conditions such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
CoQ10 levels in the brain begin declining at the age of 20, and sharply decline after the age of 35.
Image credit: Medical NDX
There are different forms of CoQ10 supplements. But nothing beats getting this nutrient from whole foods.
How Much Should You Eat?
Vitamin A is a fat-soluble nutrient, meaning it’s stored in the body for long periods of time. That’s quite different from water-soluble vitamins that are quickly excreted by the body.
This means there are risks of toxicity. And because there is so much vitamin A in liver, you don’t want to overdo it.
From all I’ve researched, eating about a quarter-pound of liver once a week is all you need to receive sufficient amounts of vitamin A and still benefit from all the other nutrients within it.
To those who have tried liver, you’ll agree that it is quite the acquired taste. But it isn’t the worst thing in the world.
Many diners and delis serve liver. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can try pan-sautéing it at home with some salt and pepper, or you can find many great recipes online.
We would love to hear your own experiences with liver and any recipes you may have. Leave us a comment in the section below.
Happy and healthy investing,