Organ Meats in a Nutrient Dense Diet
Updated: Oct 1, 2020
Although I am sure there will be some organ meat lovers out there reading this, I imagine there will be many readers who have a memory of being fed well-done liver and onions as a child, with no other exposure to organ meats. Yikes! This may have been a turn-off we never overcame. Many of us have never had organ meats at all, and have a hard time exploring this option. So as you can imagine, there are lots of people who eat paleo that do not include organ meats in their diet. But in many traditional cultures, they are a vital part of the animal that is consumed regularly. Ancestral based eating ideally incorporates organ meats, with a true nose-to-tail eating approach. But why you might ask? Not only did no part of the animal get wasted, but also, organ meats are by far the most nutrient-dense part of the animal, and more nutrient-dense than just about anything else you can eat! Yes, fruits and vegetables are loaded with a wide variety of nutrients, but organ meats have higher amounts of most of the nutrients they contain, and the bio-availability of these nutrients is also better. This means your body can actually use more of the nutrients, which is very important!
Nutrients and Benefits
Organ meats are particularly rich in B-vitamins, such as vitamin B12 and folate. They are also rich in minerals, including iron, copper, magnesium, selenium and zinc, and important fat-soluble vitamins like vitamins A, D, E and K. Of course, they are a fantastic protein source as well. They are also one of the best sources of choline, which is an essential nutrient for muscle, liver and brain health. It is estimated that 9 out of 10 Americans do not get enough choline in their diet. Pregnant women in particular need to be aware of choline intake, as insufficient choline consumption during pregnancy has been associated with an increased risk for neural tube defects. Eggs are also a good source for choline, but 1 large egg has less than half the choline of 3 ounces of beef liver.
How To Incorporate Organ Meats
Again, there will be those of you who love eating organ meats, whether liver, heart, tongue, or other organs, and will enjoy the flavor. For those of you who struggle with eating them as the star of the dish, I recommend:
Considering mixing ground organ meats into your ground meat when making tacos, burgers, meatballs, chili, Bolognese sauce, and much more. There are also a couple companies you can order high quality meats from, including ground meat they have mixed organ meat into:
https://forceofnature.com/ - the ancestral blend includes organ meat
https://belcampo.com/ - they sell actual organ meats and bones as well, which are wonderful for making your own bone broth
Tongue and heart have a milder flavor, and can be a good place to start. Tongue can be slow-cooked and prepared like a shredded meat you would make tacos with, seasoning it just like you would your typical meat choice. Heart (the best source of CoQ10) can be used in stew or chili, and can also be barbecued on kabobs with veggies and your favorite sauce.
Liver is the most nutrient-dense of all organ meats and can be sautéed with bacon, onions, and greens, for a tasty dish. Let the bacon be the star! It also works really well mixed into ground meat, as mentioned above.
You can even make your own “supplements”, by freezing liver and then cutting it into small pieces you store in the freezer. Then just swallow a couple pieces a day, like you would your morning vitamins.
Regardless of what avenue you take, maybe experiment until you find a way to enjoy organ meat consistently. And if it just does not work for you at all, then consider looking into high quality liver extract supplements from grass-fed animals. The key is quality, whether sourcing meat, organs, bones, or supplements. Grass-fed and sustainably raised does make a huge difference in the nutrient profile of animal products! And as always, if you decide to give any of these ideas a try, let us know how it goes.
I wish you well on your own health journey, and we are here if you need us! Be kind to yourself. ~ Jeanna