Forget chia-seeds, goji-berries, acai smoothies, and maca-root powder. I’m not saying these over-priced, over-hyped products, shipped in from far-flung countries and touted as the next “superfood”, do not have health benefits. They do contain anti-oxidants and nutrients, but they really are not all they’re hyped up to be. In fact, they don’t even hold a candle to some of the real superfoods we have access to, and that were always far more a part of our diet, as human beings, than any of the above ever were (unless we were living in the jungles of south america).

We’re constantly told to eat our “5 servings” of vegetables and fruits every day because of their vitamins, minerals and micronutrient content, but did you know that the nutrients in liver FAR surpass the nutrient content of vegetables and fruits (even when it comes to Vitamin C)? I’m not saying not to eat fruit and vegetables – they are full of phytonutrients, polyphenols and flavanoids that are not found in high concentrations in animal foods, so we should still be eating lots of them. But in addition, we really ought to be trying to include more nutrient dense foods in our diets to cover all our other bases.

And that’s where liver comes in.

Check out where liver ranks next to apples, carrots and the one vegetable many people swear will give you every nutrient you ever need: kale. It puts them all to shame in terms of almost every nutrient:

liver-nutrients

AND liver contains all these nutrients in a highly bioavailable form. In other words, your body will be able to use all of these nutrients easily, whereas extracting them from vegetables such as kale is a lot harder for the body (which is why it is recommended to cook kale, rather than eat it raw).

It even trumps red meat. Obviously we know that meat is an excellent source of nutrients and should form a regular part of our food intake, but liver is between 10-100 times higher in nutrients than muscle meats.

A common objection to eating liver, is the mis-guided belief that liver is a storage organ for toxins. It’s true that one of the functions of liver is to neutralize toxins (drugs, poisons, chemicals etc), but it does not actually store these. The toxins that are not eliminated from the body are likely to accumulate in the fatty tissue and nervous system and NOT in the liver itself.

Liver IS a storage organ, but for the following extremely important nutrients – Vitamins A, D, E, B12 and Folate, as well as copper, iron and CoQ10. These nutrients actually help the body eliminate toxins.

Liver gives you energy!

In addition to the discernible nutrient content of liver, there is an as-yet-unidentified anti-fatigue factor which has been credited with drastically increasing energy levels and stamina.

“Liver’s as-yet-unidentified anti-fatigue factor makes it a favorite with athletes and bodybuilders. The factor was described by Benjamin K. Ershoff, PhD, in a July 1951 article published in the Proceedings for the Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine.

Ershoff divided laboratory rats into three groups. The first ate a basic diet, fortified with 11 vitamins. The second ate the same diet, along with an additional supply of vitamin B complex. The third ate the original diet, but instead of vitamin B complex received 10 percent of rations as powdered liver.

A 1975 article published in Prevention magazine described the experiment as follows: “After several weeks, the animals were placed one by one into a drum of cold water from which they could not climb out. They literally were forced to sink or swim. Rats in the first group swam for an average 13.3 minutes before giving up. The second group, which had the added fortifications of B vitamins, swam for an average of 13.4 minutes. Of the last group of rats, the ones receiving liver, three swam for 63, 83 and 87 minutes. The other nine rats in this group were still swimming vigorously at the end of two hours when the test was terminated. Something in the liver had prevented them from becoming exhausted. To this day scientists have not been able to pin a label on this anti-fatigue factor.””

From The Liver Files on the Weston A Price Website.

This was definitely reason enough for me to try it. However, liver is a VERY acquired taste.

Eating the stuff

Whilst a few people will be able to cook up a slab with some onions and chow it down with pleasure, most of us have not really acquired a taste for it, and even the thought is probably making some of you gag. Trust me, I understand!

I tried the slab of liver and onions initially and could not get it down. Sue me. So, ever since then I have been looking for ways to get it into me in more palatable ways. Here are a few ways that work for me:

  • Puréeing 100 grams or so and adding it to ground meat whenever I make meatballs or meatza etc. It’s a great way to disguise the taste and most people wouldn’t even realize it’s in there
  • Liverwurst. US Wellness Meats does a great version which is actually pretty tasty and makes for a great breakfast meat to go with eggs and a side of veggies. I was scared to try this at first, but actually really grew to like it.
  • Making chicken liver paté. This is a great way to eat it since you’ll be spreading the paté on crunchy crudités such as carrots or celery and the taste is pretty mild, especially if you use chicken livers. It’s also a great way to get down some additional grassfed butter (another super food we should probably be eating more of).
  • Making liver “pills”. This is one of the easiest (and least repugnant) ways to get it down if you cannot stand the thought of the above options. Simply freeze the liver for a minimum of 14 days (this kills any pathogens that might be present in raw liver) and then cut it up into small pill-sized chunks. Keep in the freezer and pop a few of these “pills” a couple times a day. Boom!
  • Lastly, and I’m excited to have just discovered a new method: making a raw liver SMOOTHIE! Okay, I know that sounds about as appealing as chowing down on a plate of rotten sardines, but trust me, you will not taste a single smidge of liver. Again, the liver should be frozen for 14 days to kill any pathogens, and then about a tablespoon added to a fruit-based smoothie. This is my now favorite way to get it down, since you don’t taste the liver at all and the smoothie actually tastes yummy.
  • Obviously I would only ever advise people to consume liver from organically and humanely raised, grassfed animals due to their far superior nutrient content.

    So, if you are looking for more energy and want to be getting all your nutrients from FOOD as opposed to artificial vitamins and supplements, I would highly advise entertaining the idea of adding liver to your diet. Like tomorrow. Do it!

    And when your skin is glowing, you’re bursting with energy and you’re crushing WOD’s like they’re Tracy Anderson videos*, come and thank me!

    Further reading:

    http://chriskresser.com/natures-most-potent-superfood
    http://www.westonaprice.org/food-features/liver-files
    http://editor.nourishedmagazine.com.au/articles/anti-fatigue-factor-of-liver

    *no offense to Tracy Anderson intended