Post by Emily White
For those who eat meat, we often just eat the standard muscle cuts out of ease and familiarity. Eating the organ meat is a topic of great controversy and many people would quite literally gag at the thought! Whilst organ meat was once a common part of traditional diets (it would have been ludicrous to waste any parts of an animal!), nowadays it is not all too popular with the mass market.
What many people don’t realise is that often the offal is the most nutritious part of the animal. Compared to the standard muscle meat that we are used to eating, organ meats contain much more nutrients, including B vitamins, folic acid and the important fat-soluble vitamins A; E, D and K. Organ meats are also a great source of the omega-3 fats EPA and DHA (1). Liver for example, is one of the most nutrient dense foods in existence, containing many nutrients that can be difficult to obtain elsewhere. It is known to be one of the most concentrated source of vitamin A, as well as iron, magnesium, B12 and zinc (1) - just to name a few!
Kidneys are particularly high in iron, copper, phosphorus and zinc. The heart (although technically speaking is a muscle) is also very high in nutrients. Heart is a concentrated source of Coenzyme Q10 which can act as an antioxidant (2).
Many people worry that the liver in particular- due to its role in detoxification may contain toxicants. This however is untrue, as while the livers role is to neutralize potential harmful substances, it does not store them. While the liver does not store these substances, it does store important nutrients (vitamins A, D, E, K, B12 and folic acid. These nutrients in turn provide the body with some of the tools it needs to get rid of toxins.
One thing to note however, it that the health of the animal largely affects the health of its organs. For this reason, just as with any meat, it is very important to choose healthy sources. Therefore it is not wise to consume organ meat from caged or conventional animals instead opting for grass-fed/ free-ranged organic meats.
Unfortunately the taste of liver is something that can put many people off. However it is in fact possible to develop a taste for it, if you find a good recipe! You can always start by grinding it up and adding it to minced meat- liver Bolognese anyone?
1. Williams P. Nutritional composition of red meat. Nutrition & Dietetics. 2007;64:S113-S9.
2. Prakash S, Sunitha J, Hans M. Role of coenzyme Q(10) as an antioxidant and bioenergizer in periodontal diseases. Indian Journal of Pharmacology. 2010;42(6):334-7.