Carnivore diet

Organ Meat Benefits: 8 Reasons to Add Them To Your Diet

Why You Should Eat Organ Meats

Organ meats are the healthiest foods in the world. But many people are afraid of them and miss out on the many benefits.

What if I told you there were secret, ignored foods that may help:

  • support immune function
  • improve skin
  • increase energy
  • improve libido

And that most nutritionists and the mainstream completely ignore them.

Read more here on the wild world of organ meats and which ones are best.

What Are Organ Meats?

What exactly is organ meat, you ask? Well King Obvious, organ meats are the ORGANs of an animal including the liver, kidneys, brain, tripe (stomach), gizzard (digestive organ in poultry), sweetbreads (thymus and pancreas glands).

Animal organ meats and other components like bones and fat often provide nutrients that fuel the same organs in humans. That’s because the vitamins and minerals will be found where they are stored or used the most. For example, B vitamins that support detoxification are found in the liver - the body’s main detoxification organ. Calcium and phosphorus are found in the bones of animals and also support human bone health. Make sense?

Your ancestors all ate nose to tail...because unlike you they didn't have a butcher to go to that could just give them a ribeye.

Early hominids needed energy, nutrients and fatty acids. The table below from Cordain and Mann shows the energy calories, fat, protein and fatty acid content of foods available to early hominids.

Comparison of energy density, protein content, and AA & DHA in food sources to early hominids

As you can see, no one food contains sufficient amounts of fatty acids, high energy density (kcal) and protein. The highest energy foods like marrow are devoid of DHA. The highest protein foods are devoid of fat and DHA. And the highest foods in DHA did not have sufficient energy.

The only way to get these all in sufficient quantities is by consuming the entire animal, nose to tail.

The human body is the ultimate pinnacle of laziness...and I say that in the best way possible. Over time, instead of synthesizing nutrients on our own, we developed the capacity to steal nutrients from an animal and incorporate them into our own tissue. What do I mean by this? We would walk up to lions and growl at them loudly until they handed over their vitamin A....

No, in reality our body developed the ability to take nutrients from the liver we consumed and incorporate those nutrients directly into our own liver. This dramatically reduced energy expenditure while ensuring nutritional adequacy. Pretty brilliant if you ask me. Some refer to this concept as "like for like".

To make a long story short, yr body adapted to eating an entire animal and now it requires the nutritional balance for them. Whether that's needing the nutrients in brain to support your brain or the nutrients stored in liver to store in your own, it's critical that you eat more than just muscle. Additionally, many nutrients high in muscle meat need to be balanced out by those in other parts of the animal. Copper in the liver is helpful to balance zinc in the muscle meat. Glycine from the collagen balances methionine from the muscles. The fatty acids balance the protein intake. None of your ancestors were eating only muscle meat. So why are you?

#1: Might Improve Energy

Forget the Starbucks run. Organs might be a better alternative. That’s because they're filled with B vitamins.

Have you ever taken a b12 pill? The energy rush is wild.

One of the many functions of this family of vitamins is converting food energy into chemical energy for your cells. As a result, your food can fuel you much better.

B Vitamins play other important roles like supporting fat burning – another method of fueling our cells with the added benefit of improved body composition for you (less fat, more muscle).

Beef liver, heart and kidney are both great sources of the b vitamins. Without those three, it's unlikely you're getting adequate riboflavin.

Beef heart is very similar to muscle meat in many ways, but has a higher amount of the B vitamins and energy supercharger coq10. CoQ10 is a compound that helps to generate energy in your cells. And some studies show that increasing coq10 intake can improve energy levels <*>.

If you're interested in beef liver but don't know how to make it, sign up below for my 5 favorite beef liver recipes + answers to the most frequently asked questions.

#2 May aid weight loss

Adding organ meats to your diet can help with weight loss. This is for two main reasons.

#1. Many of the organ meats are very high in protein and increasing the protein % of your diet, via protein leverage is highly satiating. Protein also has a high TEF (thermic effect of food) and can increase the amount of calories you burn.

#2. Organ meats are very nutrient dense. Anecdotally, I've found that when I eat more nutritious foods, like liver, I am less hungry throughout the day. One of the main reasons people gain weight is because they eat caloric rich, nutritionally empty crap. Their body has plenty of energy, but not enough micronutrients -- thus they remain hungry despite having more than enough energy.

#3 May Support Skin Health

Organ meats, specifically beef liver and kidney, are one of the only sources of vitamin A retinol there is.

Vitamin A has long been known to support skin health but is also vital for reproduction, vision and supporting the immune system.

How exactly does vitamin A contribute to providing a radiant, blemish free glow? Vitamin A is an antioxidant, so it protects skin cells from oxidative stress like damage from UV rays. It also serves other integral functions. Studies show retinol can (*):

  • Slows signs of aging
  • Encourages healthy skin cell production
  • Evens skin tone
  • Clears, soothes and heals acne
  • Smooths wrinkles

In addition to vitamin A, liver is a good source of copper and glycine. Both these nutrients contribute to maintenance of collagen under the skin. Collagen under the skin reduces the presence of wrinkles and fine lines by plumping and firming the tissue beneath the skin.

How do you think my skin is so smooth & porcelain looking?

#4 Organ Meats May Support Cognitive Health

Some of the most critical nutrients for your brain are only found in organ meats.

Choline is the front runner for nutrients associated with brain health. Research shows that choline improves cognitive performance and prevents anxiety and mood disorders (*,*).

The B Vitamins. This one may take a little getting used to - kidneys are also a nutrition frontrunner when it comes to organ meats containing a boat load of B12 and Riboflavin.

Organ meats are also very high in the most bioavailable form of iron -- heme iron -- which is great for cognitive health.

The brain is also a great source of DHA and nutrients that your brain needs to function. It makes sense that an animals brain has all the nutrients in it that brains need.

#5 Organ Meats May Support General Health & Wellness

This study discusses vitamins necessary for immunocompetence. Many of them are highest and only found in organ meats.

Additionally, selenium is very beneficial for immune and antioxidant function. Both beef liver and kidney are very high in selenium. A single serving of kidney provides about a ⅓ of your days needs for selenium, an essential mineral that acts as an antioxidant protecting your cells. Selenium also helps repair damaged DNA, so it actually helps prevent chronic disease like cancer. Selenium also plays a role in heart health by protecting against inflammation in the cardiovascular system (*). Finally, selenium supports a well functioning immune system - something we could all use a little help with!

Lastly, CoQ10, which is high in heart, has been shown to have antioxidant effects <*>.

#6 Lower Homocysteine

One of the biggest challenges of nutritional requirements is the genetic individuality. Genetic differences — just like all the ones that make you unique enough to be reading this — also affect how you process nutrients.

One of the most common ones that has gotten substantial interest recently is a mutation in the MTHFR enzyme.

No…it doesn’t stand for Mother-effer…

MTHFR is an abbreviation for methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase, an enzyme that converts vitamin B9 (folate) into its active form, methyl-folate. Methyl folate is essential for a process called methylation.

Methylation is a metabolic process occurring in every cell of the body and involves one molecule passing a methyl group to another molecule. Ok, ok that might not mean very much to you non-science geeks out there. But, in layman’s terms, it’s essential for a healthy, well-functioning body and mind.

One of the ways methylation completes these vital physiologic tasks is playing a pivotal role in the methionine homocysteine cycle.

If you have a mutation in MTHFR, you cannot properly methylate folate. Methylfolate is necessary to convert homocysteine back into methionine. Thus, inadequate MTHFR activity tends to lead to elevated homcysteine levels. This is associated with a number of diseases described below.

Homocysteine is an amino acid (a building block of protein) found in the blood and is a byproduct of methionine metabolism – that is breaking down methionine to be excreted in urine.

The risks that come with elevated homocysteine include (*):

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Blood clots in veins
  • Pregnancy complications
  • Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
  • Neural tube defects
  • Vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s disease
  • Additional conditions that are being investigated: Downs Syndrome, MS, migraines, autism, PCOS and cognitive impairment

Many of the most critical nutrients for MTHFR are only found in organs. Nutrients like riboflavin, folate and glycine.

Riboflavin and folate are really only found in beef liver, kidney and heart. Glycine is only found in the connective tissue and some in suet.

If you have high homocysteine, you may want to try adding organ meats.

#7 Organ Meats May Support Muscle Growth

Organ meats are a great way to support muscle growth. Many, like liver, are very high in bioavailable protein & leucine. Leucine is the most anabolic amino acid and the most potent activator of mTOR -- the cellular growth signal. They're also high in nutrients and minerals that are critical for growing muscles.

An added bonus is that they're very nutrient dense -- so for very few calories you can get all the benefits.

#8 Reduction in toxic load

Eating liver is certainly not as pretty as the rainbow array of perfectly filled detox juice bottles but the proof is in the pudding! A little over an oz of liver provides the entire RDA for molybdenum.

How does it work? It acts as a coenzyme supporting the conversion of sulfites to sulfates and supporting the metabolism of medications and alcohol. The buildup of sulfites is toxic to the body and too much can be dangerous (*).

For Optimal Health Go Beyond the Muscle Meat

The bottom line here is that animals are nutrient powerhouses and that includes all parts of the animal, particularly the parts that store vitamins and minerals and do the most work - the vital organs.

If the idea of eating organ meats and other animal parts makes you squirm, get the most bang for your buck with liver - it is the superstar of organ meats.

If you're interested in beef liver but don't know how to make it, sign up below for my 5 favorite beef liver recipes + answers to the most frequently asked questions.