What is it about offal, better known as organ meats, that causes so many in our society to think that it is well – so awful? It wasn’t so long ago that you could frequently find liver and onions on family dinner tables and served at restaurants across America. Unfortunately, our modern viewpoint on organ meats tend to have most avoiding what is one of the most micronutrient Rich Food categories on the planet. In other words, organ meats, including liver is really good for us! There is even a theory, first posited in 1995 by Aielllo and Wheeler in the Journal of Current Anthropology, that animal meats, of which organ meat would have represented a vast quantity, are the origin of the evolution of our large brain size. In fact, unlike our modern culture where the fat-free chicken breasts seem to be the cut of choice, anthropologists suggest that for our ancestors the most prized cuts of meats are often the ones we now throw out or feed to the dog. In fact, after a successful hunt tribal leaders and revered warriors where awarded the most coveted pieces starting with the liver and the animals warm blood, along with pieces of fat, heart, kidneys, brain, intestines, followed by ribs and backbone, and lastly muscle meats – the parts we pay the highest prices for today.
So what caused our radical shift in culinary preference? When questioned, many cite the texture and taste of organ meats as their major objection, which in all fairness, is definitely a valid point. There is a very distinct taste and texture to organs such as liver, which can be almost metallic at times (don’t worry we will show you how to hide that flavor at the end of the post). But herein lies some of its greatest virtues, it micronutrient density. Liver is very rich in fat-soluble vitamins A and K2, as well as folate, selenium, vitamin B12 and copper; it also has high levels of CoQ10, potassium, vitamin D, and heme iron. Heart is rich in thiamin, folate, selenium, phosphorus, zinc and CoQ10. You get the point. Others cite the liver’s role in the body as a detoxifier of toxins as a source of concern. However, this is not the whole story, as while the liver does cleanses the body of toxins, it does not store them. In fact, it is those very micronutrients we just talked about, which assist in the body’s detoxification process. Having said this we do recommend, as we do with all meats, that you source grass fed (organic when you can) organ meats to ensure you are getting the healthiest and most micronutrient rich cuts possible.
Once you get past the mental game of eating offal, you open the door to an incredible tool that can greatly assist you in achieving micronutrient sufficiency. For example, did you know that liver has more micronutrients in a mere three ounces than does several pounds of mixed vegetables? Take a look at our info-graphic below to see just how good the micronutrients found in liver are for your heart, immune system, bones, and in fighting cancer. So the take home message is this, remember that micronutrient sufficiency is the foundation of optimal health. Without it we are leaving small holes in our HOH (House of Optimal Health), which can over time become much larger holes and eventually lead to health problems and disease. If your dietary philosophy allows it, we urge you to start including offal from quality grass-fed ruminants, and pasture-raised, poultry and swine on a regular basis – who knows you might even find you like it!
Not sure how to incorporate offal into your current diet? If you are like most people, your first few attempts with offal may scare you a bit—It did us! But we guarantee that the benefits are huge and by following our directions you won’t even know it is in the recipe. Liver may be the easiest to start with, but don’t just fry up a plate of liver and onions if you are a newbie, and don’t even tell your family you are sneaking it in, if you are the chef! Our favorite way to incorporate liver into our diet is to first get the freshest liver you can find (as instructed above) then blend it in a blender—literally liquefying the liver. From here the sky is the limit, you can use it in any recipe where you use ground beef. You can try meatballs, meatloaf, chili or our favorite, a spicy Mexican beef dip! Add in 1 part liver to 3 parts grass-fed beef. You will also need to “beef up” the spice content too. Remember to use organic spices to avoid the free radicals caused by irradiation!
Live it up! Liven your dinner with liver… We bet your family won’t even know you’ve done it- our guests never do!