Thursday, January 26, 2012

Liver: the Paleo Superfood You Should Be Eating

Liver. Just the mention of the name sends shudders down people's spines. It functions as a vital organ in animals and humans, but is it really something we should be eating? Let's take a look. 

Chuck Norris rarely ate, but when he did, it was liver

You may not realize it, but eating organs is one of the best things you can do for health and longevity. Hunter-gatherers even favored the organs while throwing muscle meat to their dogs. Rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals, organ meats may not be palatable, but they are certainly good for the body. Liver in particular is one of the best organs to chow down on. It's a great source of CoQ10 (important for heart health), contains high quality protein, and is one of the best sources of iron and vitamin A. If you were to compare the amount of vitamins in liver to fruit and vegetables, it's like comparing a Ferrari to a Dodge Neon. Both will get you what you need, but one is supercharged. Case in point: check out the chart below from Paleo Cafe. You'll see that liver has 3x potassium compared to an apple, 4.5x the amount of vitamin C compared to a carrot, and a whopping 1,335x the amount of vitamin A compared to red meat. The next most concentrated source of vitamin A is carrot juice (source: USDA)

holy nutrients, Batman!

 Liver is also known for its mysterious anti-fatiguing effect. 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." (Weston Price Foundation

Are you kidding me?? Swimming 9x longer and having the experiment actually end before they could find out what happened with those remaining nine rats is astonishing. If you are a triathlete, CrossFitter, or just a HUMAN BEING, this should inspire you to eat liver.

In high school and college, you probably saw those pictures of human livers from alcoholics compared to healthy person's. The same can be considered for animals. Make sure you're choosing healthy, vibrant, red liver when about to chow down. If reading this is not enough to convince you, check out this picture.

I know which one I'm picking

Yes, I realize the thought of eating liver is still gross. There are a lot of recipes out there in the paleosphere and beyond that can help with your aversion to this superfood. Two of the main things you'll usually find in a liver recipe? Bacon and butter. Yum. Knowing this, I made my own liver pâté. (yes I searched how to get those symbols over the "a" and "e.") The liver is from a shipment from PhillyCowShare. They had a box of cow parts that no one really wanted (liver, heart, tongue, tail) so I took it. Score!

1. Gather tasty ingredients. Amount is up to you, but here is what I used: 
3 strips of bacon
1/4 chopped onion
4 cloves of garlic
2 Tbsp. butter + another 2 Tbsp. later
1/2 lb. grass fed beef liver

2.  First, I cooked the bacon. Then I took the strips out, but kept the bacon fat to saute the onion.

3. Then, I added the strips of liver in with the onion to cook. It probably took about 2 minutes each side. Then I added the bacon back in. (Note: At this point you can eat the liver like steak. I will most likely do this next time)

4. If you're going for more of a pâté, then throw all of this in a food processor or blender and whirl away. Store in a refrigerator for 30 min. or so to let it cool down, and then serve on carrots, peppers, or if you're not 100% paleo, on crackers or chips.

So now you know why liver is so good for you AND you have a recipe to make it a little more palatable. Bacon and butter truly make everything better. But if that's still not enough, check out the links below for more information about liver and some recipes too.

Weston Price Foundation: The Liver Files
Balanced Bites: Chicken Liver Pate


  1. Looks good. I'm going to have to try out your recipe. The last time I made liver, I did it in the crock pot but it didn't came out kind of tough. Whenever I've had it in a restaurant it's so creamy and delicious.

  2. I'm picking up 10lbs of bison liver tomorrow!!

  3. So I made some liver following those instructions... minus the garlic and Kerry Gold. Just bacon, bacon fat, onions and liver. I really wasn't a fan, but I was determined to eat it. I threw the whole batch, onions and all, into the food processor and let it sit overnight in the fridge. What a difference! I ate it with some gluten-free crackers this morning. I'm going to get some yellow/red peppers and try it on that.

    Good stuff.

  4. I made some more last night with just onions and garlic. It's pretty foul. I can eat it but I dont have a smile on my face. Where's the "holy shit this is amazing!" recipe?

  5. I love that I just did a search for a pate recipe and your blog post was the second that came up!

  6. It's even more nutrient rich when you eat it raw as long as it is fresh and grass fed. The most horrible thing you've ever tasted but definitely a super food!


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