In Defense of Organ Meats - Aspire Natural Health

In Defense of Organ Meats

4341911482 fbd63b9e32 z - In Defense of Organ Meats

A recent post on our Facebook page about hiding liver in hamburgers ground up a lot of debate (see what I did there!).

One of the questions asked was (to paraphrase), “why go to all this trouble?” or put another way, “why bother eating liver?”

So today we are singing an ode in praise of Organ meats!


Organ meat vs muscle meat

Traditional cultures prized organ meats, and often considered them the most valuable part of an animal.  Stories of traditional Eskimos have them saving the organ meats for themselves and throwing the muscle meat to their dogs.

And it’s not hard to see why. Organs contain most of the nutrients of the animal, muscles on the other hand are primarily just protein.

To get a sense, let’s compare. In the table below I’ve listed the vitamin and mineral content of 1 oz of beef vs 1 oz of beef liver.

Info on beef taken from here. Info on beef liver taken from here

Nutrients Beef, raw – 1oz Beef liver, raw – 1oz
Vitamin A 0.0 IU 4732 IU
Vitamin C 0.0 mg 0.4 mg
Vitamin D 0.0 IU 4.5 mg
Vitamin E 0.1 mg 0.1 mg
Vitamin K 0.9 mcg 0.9 mcg
Thiamin 0.0 mg 0.1 mg
Riboflavin 0.1 mg 0.8 mg
Niacin 1.4 mg 3.7 mg
Vitamin B6 0.1 mg 0.3 mg
Folate 3.6 mcg 81.2 mcg
Vitamin B12 0.8 mcg 16.6 mcg
Pantothenic Acid 0.2 mg 2.0 mg
Choline 22.5 mg 93.3 mg
Betaine 2.9 mg 1.2 mg
Calcium 6.7 mg 1.4 mg
Iron 0.5 mg 1.4 mg
Magnesium 3.9 mg 5.0 mg
Phosphorus 37.0 mg 108.0 mg
Potassium 61.0 mg 87.6 mg
Sodium 18.8 mg 19.3 mg
Zinc 1.0 mg 1.1 mg
Copper 0.0 mg 2.7 mg
Manganese 0.0 mg 0.1 mg
Selenium 3.8 mcg 11.1 mcg
Fluoride 6.3 mcg 0.0 mcg


As you can see, liver wins in virtually every category. That’s why we call liver, nature’s multi-vitamin, and that’s why we recommend you eat it.


But why liver?

Ideally, not just liver. It would be best if you included every organ meat in your diet, at least from time to time. Traditional cultures eat everything: liver, lungs, heart, pancreas, brains, eyeballs…everything. And each organ is packed with nutrition, with certain organs concentrating different amounts of vitamins and minerals.

Feeling squeamish? That’s okay, that’s just our Western cultural conditioning, we’re used to getting bland meat in a Styrofoam tray. Organ meats are messier, it’s true. And they taste strongly, that’s true too.

So, if you’re new to organ meats and they seems scary, start small and try a little liver. It’s the most commonly available organ meat for average urban people. Mix it with other strong flavors to help mask it’s taste. Try the hamburger recipe we posted yesterday.


Before I Go, Let Me Answer Two Myths

  1. Liver is toxic – I often hear this said by former vegetarians or vegans, that the liver is toxic or poison because it’s full of all sorts of toxic compounds. So let’s be clear, the liver is the primary source of detoxification in the animal body. We often use the analogy of an oil filter, and say that the liver is the oil filter of your blood, and that’s mostly true. The difference however, is that all the waste gets trapped in an oil filter and so it ‘gums up’ and becomes ‘toxic’ and you have to replace it. This does NOT happen with your liver. Your liver filters the blood and detoxifies compounds in your blood. It does NOT store them, it passes them on to be gotten rid of in the bile, in your urine, and through your breath. So an animal’s liver is NOT full of poison, no matter how it’s been raised. Nonetheless it is best to get organs (just like anything else) from the cleanest, healthiest animal possible. But if you can’t, it’s important to understand you are not eating toxic waste by eating liver
  2. Dangerous Vitamin A – There are a lot of warnings about vitamin A floating around nowadays and this is the primary reason I see people warned off of liver from the conventional medical community. This is a complex discussion, but for me it boils down to two things. Retin-A a synthetic form of vitamin A used for acne, absolutely DOES cause birth defects. This does NOT mean that naturally occurring, or bio-identical, vitamin A does the same thing. And second, it really seems to come down to balance. We believe most of the harm from Vitamin A are really issues with high vitamin A in the presence of a vitamin D deficiency.

To read more in depth about this, I recommend starting with Chris Masterjohn’s excellent article Vitamin A on Trial.

I hope this has convinced you to give liver a try. It’s a nutritional powerhouse, and most people could benefit by adding 3-4 oz to their diet every 7-14 days.


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