There are many claims to the status of superfood, but there can be no question when it comes to liver.
Liver was once a highly valued food source, but liver has more recently become unfashionable and is considered unpalatable by many. The reduction in consumption of liver is rather unfortunate as liver is rich in protein, low in calories and packed with essential vitamins and minerals.
The aim of this article is to take a look at some of the key reasons why you should include liver in your diet.
What is liver?
The liver is typically the largest internal organ in the body of animals and is vital for the healthy function of the body. Some of the functions that the liver performs including:
- Processing digested food from the gut
- Storing glucose, iron, vitamins and other essential nutrients
- Filtering and clearing toxins from the blood
Organ meats, including liver, were originally very popular as a source of food, but now muscle meats are favoured, despite their lower nutritional value.
It’s a common misconception that the liver somehow stores toxins that it filters, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. The job of the liver is to expel toxins, usually in urine via the kidneys. The liver does store vitamins, minerals and glycogen, but you can be sure that liver sourced from healthy animals that are raised organically is safe and nutritious.
1) Liver is a superb source of essential nutrients
It’s common to think of fruits and vegetables as a good source of vitamins and minerals, but liver is one of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet. Just a small amount of liver provides more than 100% of the Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) for many essential nutrients. Liver is also rich in high quality protein and low in calories.
Below you will find the nutrients found in a 3.5 ounces (100 grams) serving of cooked beef liver:
- Vitamin B12: 3,460% of the RDI. Vitamin B12 helps the formation of red blood cells and DNA. It is also involved in healthy brain function.
- Vitamin A: 860–1,100% of the RDI. Vitamin A is important for normal vision, immune function and reproduction. It also helps organs like the heart and kidneys function properly.
- Riboflavin (B2): 210–260% of the RDI. Riboflavin is important for cellular development and function. It also helps turn food into energy.
- Folate (B9): 65% of the RDI. Folate is an essential nutrient that plays a role in cell growth and the formation of DNA.
- Iron: 80% of the RDI, or 35% for women of menstruating age. Iron is another essential nutrient that helps carry oxygen around the body. The iron in liver is heme iron, the kind most easily absorbed by the body.
- Copper: 1,620% of the RDI. Copper acts like a key to activate a number of enzymes, which then help regulate energy production, iron metabolism and brain function.
- Choline: Liver provides all of the Adequate Intake (AI) for women and nearly all of it for men (AI is used because there is insufficient evidence to set an RDI). Choline is important for brain development and liver function.
In summary liver provides more than the RDI for vitamin B12, vitamin A, riboflavin and copper. It is also rich in the essential nutrients folate, iron and choline.
2) Liver provides high quality protein
Liver is made up of over 25% high quality protein, including all of the essential amino acids.
Amino acids are the components that make up proteins. Certain amino acids can be generated by the human body, but essential amino acids come from food sources.
Protein intake has been proven to assist with losing weight, due to proteins satisfying hunger better than fats and carbohydrates. In addition a high protein diet has been shown to increase metabolic rate, which is the number of calories the body uses to function. An increased metabolic rate can also assist with weight loss.
Finally, increasing protein in the diet helps build muscle and assists with retaining muscle when losing weight.
3) Liver has less calories than most other meats
Liver is one of the most nutrient dense foods available, per calorie. When compared with liver most commonly eaten muscle meats are nutritionally quite poor.
For example 100 grams of sirloin steak contains more than 200 calories. The same weight of beef liver contains only 175 calories and provides a much higher amount of every single vitamin and most minerals.
Particularly for those reducing calorie intake it is especially important to ensure the food consumed includes enough nutritional value. Liver is the perfect food for those wanting to lose weight. While there are foods that contain high quality protein, vitamins or minerals the variety and amount of nutrients in liver outstrips them all.
To top it all liver is low in fat. Approximately 25% of calories in liver come from fat, compared with 50-60% in beef steak.
Hirsch Organic Grass Fed Beef Liver Capsules