What are the Benefits of Organ Meat?

Organ meat is an afterthought when it comes to animal meat but did you know its one of the most nutrient dense foods you can eat?

The rise of the carnivore movement has brought back the importance of organ meat and it is about time.

Back in the hunter and gatherer era, every part of the animal was utilized. Not just the muscle and fur, but the organs too! In fact, organ meat was considered a delicacy.

Now we just eat the muscle of animals and neglect the organ meat. Not only is this wasteful, but we’re missing out on the most nutrient dense part of the animal!

Why Organ Meat?

Without a doubt the answer to this question is micronutrients. You should be thinking about organ meats as a daily multivitamin. Even better is that the micronutrients found in organ meat or more bioavailable or better absorbed compared to micronutrients found in plant sources.

While the exact nutrient content will differ slightly from source to source and animal to animal, in general organ meats are a great source of:

  • Protein

  • Vitamin B12

  • Vitamin A

  • Folate

  • Choline

  • Selenium and Iron (1)

Organ meat is a great addition to any diet but is especially crucial on a carnivore diet where food variety and micronutrient diversity may be lacking.

What are the Different Types of Organ Meat?

The most common types of organ meat include liver, heart, and kidneys. The most common animal sources include chicken, cow, pig, lamb and goat.

I believe that the best organs come from grass-fed cows.

Liver

Liver is one of the more popular of the organ meats. Liver helps detoxify the animals body and also happens to be the most nutrient dense of all organ meats.

A 3.5 ounce serving of beef liver contains 25 grams of protein and over 1300% of the RDI for Vitamin B12! Additionally, liver is also high in iron, copper, vitamin A, and niacin. Collectively, these nutrients reduce oxidative stress and can protect the heart (2).

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Heart

The heart is known for being one of the tastier organ meats. Like the liver, the heart is a great source of vitamin B12. Additionally, the heart has >50% of the RDI for riboflavin.

What’s special about the heart (especially cow heart) is it contains coenzyme Q10 or CoQ10. Simply put CoQ10 helps generate energy in the cells. It also functions as an antioxidant, protecting the cells from free radicals and oxidative stress. Research has shown that low levels of CoQ10 is linked with heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

Getting CoQ10 in your diet has been shown to improve exercise performance and may even reduce the severity of migraines through its improvements in mitochondrial function (3,4).

Kidneys

Kidneys function to filter waste and toxins out of the blood. Kidneys are typically rich in vitamin B12 and selenium. In fact, cow kidneys have over 200% of the RDI for selenium.  Selenium appears to improve blood flow which leads a variety of beneficial downstream effects including improved immune function, metabolism and antioxidant capacities (5).

Others

Other popular organ meats include the tongue and brain. Cow tongue is a popular appetizer for many and is the most calorically dense organ meat at around 250 calories per serving. Cow tongue also contains vitamin B12, niacin, and zinc but in smaller concentrations compared to other organ meats.

Lastly, brain meat is known for its large quantities of cholesterol. Per 3.5 oz. brain meat typically contains >1000% of the RDI for cholesterol. Which is a good thing!

The Source Matters

Organ meats are regarded as safe for human consumption however, as with most meats you should look for grass-fed/finished to ensure you are getting the highest quality. If the animal has been eating garbage then the benefits from organ meat are not going to be as robust. Ensuring good sourcing can also make consuming the organ meat a lot safer.

Cooking Organ Meat

Not everyone enjoys the taste of organ meat but this is typically because of the way it is prepared. Do not overcook your organ meat because it will lead to a more pungent flavor and it will cook away a lot of the nutrients. In fact, my favorite way to consume organ meat is raw, but that may not be for everyone.

If you are going to cook organ meat, cook it slow and low and season the heck out of it.

If you are still not down for eating organ meat, you can always give organ supplements a try from companies like Ancestral Supplements.

Conclusion/Safety

Organ meats are rich in purines and vitamin A, individuals with gout and or are pregnant may need monitor organ meat intake (6).

There is a concern that organ meats may store toxins. However, research has found that this is not the case and organ meats are safe and nutritious (7).

It is worth noting that some organ meats such as intestines can contain harmful bacteria if not cleaned properly and brain could contain harmful diseases so it is important to consider your source!

In conclusion, organ meats are a great source of high quality protein and micronutrients! Organ meats can help you pack on the lean muscle mass and keep you satiated. Additionally, as organ meats are rich in vitamin A, B12, Choline, selenium, riboflavin and CoQ10 they can offer a variety of health benefits including reduced oxidative stress, improved blood flow and immune function, and even exercise performance!

Christopher Irvin