Why Is Beef Liver Nature’s Superfood?
By Sara Novak
- Why You Should Regularly Consume Beef Liver
- The Assortment of Vitamins in Beef Liver
- How To Find A Quality Source of Beef Liver
- Are Beef Liver Supplements Worth it?
One of my dad’s favorite foods was liver and onions. I think it spoke to his time growing up on a farm in Iowa. I used to make fun of him for eating it. But now it turns out, he was onto something. Beef liver is so good for you and that is why more and more people are labeling it as a superfood. Loaded with a laundry list of health benefits, it is all about choosing the best beef liver out there. And if you do not like liver (and some people just do not), it might be worth adding a beef liver supplement to your repertoire. Here is why adding beef liver to your diet might be just the thing you need to amp up your health.
Table of Contents:
- The Health Benefits of Beef Liver
- How To Find The Best Beef Liver
- Should You Take A Beef Liver Supplement?
The Health Benefits Of Beef Liver:
Not sure about beef liver? It might be worth going out on a limb and giving this superfood its due. Beef liver is nutrient dense and while it is not a commonly known superfood, it is a shame that more people do not eat it regularly. Here’s why:
Skip the fortified foods and get the best form of iron from beef liver. Liver is one of nature’s most potent forms of iron, which is needed for a host of bodily functions. Iron is important for making red blood cells, carrying oxygen through the blood, and for protecting your body from iron deficiency anemia. Heme iron is the best source of iron that you can find. It is iron that is derived from hemoglobin so that it is easier for your body to absorb. Heme iron comes from animal products that originally contained hemoglobin. Nonheme iron comes from plant sources and it is harder for the body to absorb. If you eat enough sources of heme iron, you are less likely to have iron deficiency anemia, a disease that can cause fatigue, pale skin, and a decrease in red blood cells that are needed to carry oxygen through the blood.
2. Vitamin A
Beef liver also contains ample Vitamin A, nearly 17 units per serving. Vitamin A is important for immune function, protecting vision, reproductive function, and for various organs in the body including the heart, lungs, and kidneys.
3. Vitamin C
Beef liver is also a good source of Vitamin C, another important vitamin for immune function. According to the Mayo Clinic, “vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is a nutrient your body needs to form blood vessels, cartilage, muscle and collagen in bones. Vitamin C is also vital to your body's healing process.” It is also an antioxidant that is important for protecting the cells against the free radicals that cause disease in the body and cause general aging.
Getting enough zinc is important because it is necessary for optimal body function. According to the National Institutes of Health, “zinc is found in cells throughout the body. It helps the immune system fight off invading bacteria and viruses. The body also needs zinc to make proteins and DNA, the genetic material in all cells. During pregnancy, infancy, and childhood, the body needs zinc to grow and develop properly. Zinc also helps wounds heal and is important for proper senses of taste and smell.” Eating beef liver is a great way to ensure that you are getting enough zinc.
Like iron and zinc, phosphorus is another important mineral found in beef liver. Phosphorus is important for the formation of bones and teeth as well as kidney function, muscle contractions, nerve function, and normal heart beat.
Again, beef liver is loaded with a laundry list of important minerals. Selenium is crucial because it plays an important role in our metabolism. Selenium is important for DNA function, reproduction, and thyroid health. It can stave off some of the damage caused by free radicals.
7. Best Source Of Protein
Beef liver is the best source of protein that you can find. It provides the most balanced source of important amino acids. Liver has the most protein of all organ meats. According to Harvard Health, “protein is found throughout the body—in muscle, bone, skin, hair, and virtually every other body part or tissue. It makes up the enzymes that power many chemical reactions and the hemoglobin that carries oxygen in your blood. At least 10,000 different proteins make you what you are and keep you that way.”
Liver is perhaps the best source of B12. It is involved in DNA function, the production of red blood cells, and healthy brain function. Liver provides over 3,000 percent of your daily allowance of this ever important nutrient. A B12 deficiency can cause nerve damage as well as a host of other issues including tiredness, weakness, loss of appetite, numbness, and tingling in the hands and feet. Two steps are required for the body to properly absorb B12 from the foods you eat. As the stomach starts to digest protein, hydrochloric acid separates protein from the B12 nutrient. Next, B12 combines with a substance made in the body called intrinsic factor, which allows the entire body to absorb the nutrient.
Choline, also known as Vitamin J, is an essential nutrient in the body for functions like liver protection and brain development. Choline is a precursor molecule to acetylcholine which is the main neurotransmitter of the parasympathetic nervous system and is required by the nervous system to relay electrical signals. It is also important for brain health as it helps to maintain neuroplasticity as we age and can even decrease the effects of neurodegenerative disorder. It is estimated that up to 90% of American's are deficient in Choline, so it is extremely important to ensure you are consuming enough choline either through your diet by taking a choline supplement:
Copper is a mineral that is found in beef liver. It is important for regulating energy and enzyme production, iron metabolism, and brain function. However, you can have too much of a good thing. If you have too much copper, it can cause copper toxicity, which can be deadly.
Folate is an essential nutrient needed in cell growth and the formation of DNA. According to the National Institutes of Health, “folate is a B-vitamin that is naturally present in many foods. Your body needs folate to make DNA and other genetic material. Your body also needs folate for your cells to divide. A form of folate, called folic acid, is used in most dietary supplements.” This is one of the most important B-vitamins and you can get your fill from liver.
Riboflavin is a B vitamin that helps your body turn food into energy as well as assists with cell development. Get your fill from beef liver. Riboflavin is a water soluble vitamin present in our diets. According to the National Institutes of Health, riboflavin “is an essential component of two major coenzymes [which] play major roles in energy production; cellular function, growth, and development."
13. Fewer Calories
Because beef liver is so densely packed with vitamins and minerals it actually has a smaller serving size and therefore fewer calories compared to other meats. At only 200 calories per serving, this can be a great choice if you are trying trying to watch your weight, but still want to get all the benefits of eating meat.
While liver does have a number of health benefits, you will want to make sure that you are eating the highest quality.
How To Find The Best Beef Liver:
Avoid Antibiotics -
Make sure that you eat liver that does not contain any antibiotics. A study published in the Journal of Food and Drug Analysis found that liver tended to contain high levels of antibiotics. The authors write “antibiotic residues in liver samples may be attributed to the failure to observe the preslaughter withdrawal time. Samples with highly positive antibiotic residues were not unusual, since the liver organ is the major storage for antibiotics and toxic substances in the body.”
Choose Grass-Fed -
Cows are supposed to eat grass, it is best for their health and it makes the liver that you are consuming healthier in the end. It has lower levels of saturated fats and it contains higher levels of Vitamin A and E. Grass fed is also free of hormones and antibiotics. Not to mention that it tastes better. It is also higher in healthy fats that decrease your risk of heart disease.
For more information on why consuming grass-fed beef is so important check out our blog: You Are What You Choose To Be: The Biology of Belief
The closer the animal, the less greenhouse gases used to get it from the farm to your table. There is also a better chance that you can see the way the animals are treated.
When animals are treated better, they are exposed to less contamination from infection like Staph and e-coli because they live in better conditions. You also cannot use antibiotics to treat them after the fact. The bottom line is that a healthier animal makes a tastier, more nutrient dense liver, which is better for everyone.
Should You Take A Beef Liver Supplement?:
If you hate liver and you cannot be forced to eat it, you may want to consider a beef liver supplement. Make sure that if that is the case, that you choose a freeze dried liver supplement that does not use high heat in production. Using high heat means that you destroy many of the nutrients, minerals, and antioxidants found in the product. Choose organic, grass fed, and make sure there are no additives.
Here are some reasons why you might consider adding a liver supplement to your routine:
- A host of B-vitamins including vitamin B12
- Perfect source of protein
- Heme iron
- Cell function support
- Immune support