It may look strange to us served in dark slivers over a bed of golden sautéed onions, smelling strongly of minerals and separating all too easily under the clip of a fork, but just 100 years ago, liver was a very common food in many American diets. Baked, sautéed or ground, liver recipes once filled the food-stained pages of beloved household cookbooks. Somehow they have hauntingly disappeared without a trace. Now, many of us walk rapidly past the strange hunks of maroon meat at the grocery store, or stop to gawk at the odd plastic wrapped stuff, only to grip our carts and speed away as a wave of nausea hits. Although eating organ meats has largely fallen out of favor in popular modern cuisine, these sacred foods contain a wealth of important nutrients that are just incredibly nourishing. Here are some common questions about mysterious liver answered, with some ideas on how to reinstate it into your diet.
Q. What nutrients can I find in liver?
Gram for gram, liver is one of the most nutrient dense foods available to us. It contains a large amount of high-quality protein, an easily absorbed form of iron, all of the B vitamins (including B12 and folic acid in significant amounts), balanced quantities of vitamin A, many trace elements and minerals including copper, zinc, chromium, phosphorous and selenium, essential fatty acids EPA, DHA and AA, as well as the powerful antioxidant CoQ10. See The Benefits of Eating Liver- Our Most Nutrient Dense Food.
Q. I thought that the liver filters toxins. Are animal livers dangerous to eat?
While it is true that one of the liver’s functions is to act as a filter for toxins, it is not a storage place for them. Once the liver has identified the toxins, they are marked to be excreted via the intestines or kidneys. If there are too many toxins to be processed, they generally accumulate in the fatty tissues and nervous system of the animal. Thus when considering any animal product it is of utmost importance to make sure that it is purely grass-fed and from a trusted source.
Q. Are there risks of vitamin A toxicity from liver?
As a sacred superfood that has been celebrated for centuries, liver is one of the best sources of balanced, naturally occurring vitamin A and its fat-soluble cofactors. Vitamin A is an important catalyst for many biochemical processes in the body and is absolutely essential for nutrient assimilation, bone development and fertility. Many experts believe that modern diets have left people largely deficient in vitamin A, contributing to poor vision and weak immune systems across the population. Yet, as with anything, too much of a good thing can cause harm. Recent hype and concerns over vitamin A toxicity have stemmed from studies using high doses of synthetic vitamin A in concentrated doses, which were linked to compromised bone health and development in subjects. These isolated forms of vitamin A however, did not contain the naturally co-occurring fat-soluble vitamins D, E and "X-Factor" K2 found in liver and other whole foods, which are vital for vitamin A metabolism. Based on the work of Weston A. Price and others, experts have estimated that hearty primitive diets high in organ meats included roughly 50,000 IUs of vitamin A per day, while the RDA is set at a measly 5,000 IUs today. It is important to consume vitamin A from whole foods like liver, which offer a balanced nutrient profile and are safe, prepared as nature intended. Also, it is also important to note that contrary to the popular misconception, the beta-carotene found in greens and other plants is not actually vitamin A- it is a preformed version of which only an average of 8% is converted for use in the body. Active vitamin A is thus only found in high quality foods of animal origin.
Q. What's the best way to incorporate liver into my diet?
In a culture where we are used to consuming primarily lean muscle meats, many people find the taste and texture of liver difficult to tolerate. Traditionally, liver was used in a myriad of dishes from puddings to dumplings to meat pies and sausages. Many peoples highly valued eating raw liver! If you are looking for some recipes to get you started, Nourishing Traditions presents several preparation methods in an informative and practical way. In this innovative cookbook you will also find advice on how to purchase organ meats.
Q. I'm not so sure about eating liver. Are there other ways to get the benefits?
If you want to reap the health benefits but aren't up for the organ meat challenge just yet, Radiant Life’s Desiccated Liver is a highly recommended alternative as it is simply and purely grass-fed beef liver. Offering one of the world's most sacred foods without supplemental iron or other additives our Desiccated Liver comes from healthy young cattle grazing on the lush pastureland of Argentina without the use of hormones, pesticides or antibiotics.
As the liver powder has been carefully placed in capsule form for your convenience, you can simply take with a glass of pure water. Alternatively, the capsules can be easily opened and the contents added to soups, gravies, stews, smoothies, broths, etc. A great way to introduce liver into diets of those who don't care for the taste and texture of liver!
Q. Why buy Desiccated Liver from Radiant Life when I can find it elsewhere?
Not all beef liver products are alike. Ours is selected particularly with you in mind... All natural grass fed cattle raised free from hormones, antibiotics, and pesticides. Made without introducing heat, solvents, deodorizers, bleach, and refining. No supplemental iron added, just pure beef liver. Regularly tested for purity.
Q. I used to be a vegetarian or was on a lean meat diet and have a tough time digesting red meat. Will I be able to tolerate Desiccated Liver?
While everyone has a different system with varying capacities for tolerance and absorption, many people find the Desiccated Liver capsules very helpful in rebuilding stores of key nutrients and replenishing their bodies and minds. As the digestive system strengthens, Desiccated Liver is a phenomenal source of the crucial energy building nutrients all in an easily digestible form. Liver also contains substances which help to remove toxic substances from the body to promote a rebuilding of healthy immune and digestive systems.
Q.What are other people saying about Desiccated Liver?
Jeanne of Sasalito, CA says:“I was recommended these by a friend for low ferritin levels (17). I also had low B-12 (around 500) After taking these for 2 months, my ferritin jumped to 43, and B-12 to 1500! I was taking 1 to 2 a day. My Dr recommends taking them less often as I am absorbing them so well. I have tried many other iron and B-12 supplements, including sublingual and they have been mere upticks compared to this. I highly recommend these pills.”
Sarah from Cleveland, OH says: “I love those Desiccated liver tablets. Makes me feel so good that I am getting liver in when I take them. During my first pregnancy I had anemia and had to take iron supplements. After I learned all about WAPF and Radiant Life I bought some liver tablets. When I conceived this baby in my womb I had PERFECT iron levels and had a MUCH easier early pregnancy! I still have great iron levels and I am almost due!! Yeah for Radiant Life!"
Want to Learn More About Liver?
Sacred Foods For Exceptionally Healthy Babies...and parents too! by Jen Allbritton
The Liver Files by Lynn Razaitis
Vitamin A on Trial: Does Vitamin A Cause Osteoporosis? by Chris Masterjohn
9 Steps to Perfect Health: Supplement Wisely by Chris Kresser
Photo Liver and Onions by Ian Sommerville/ Courtesy Flickr