These days, most of us have little to no interest in eating organ meat; that is, the organs from an animal, such as the liver, kidney, or heart. In fact, for most of us it’s not even a consideration to be included in our diets, for a variety of reasons. Most of these foods seem more like a punishment than a delicacy, but food science is discovering that there is great nutritional value in organ meat, so much so that it could, and perhaps should, become a regular part of our diet, possibly a significant part of our diet. (If you want to know where I get my organ meat, drop me a line at the contact form)
Believe it or not, organ meats are one of the most densely packed foods with regards to vitamins and minerals. They contain heavy doses of several important B vitamins, including B1, B2, and B12. Vitamins A, E, and K are also prevalent in organ meats, while some of the highest concentrations of naturally occurring vitamin D come from organ meats compared to other food sources.
Organ meats are also high in useful minerals like iron, magnesium, iodine, calcium, potassium, sodium, and zinc, among many others. It’s not just that organ meats contain all these different vitamins and minerals, but the fact that they are so dense in these nutrients makes them beneficial from a health standpoint. Few other foods can deliver such a variety of healthy nutrients that it doesn’t make sense to exclude organ meats from your diet completely.
Native Americans have always been unafraid to eat organ meat, as they believed in putting every part of the animal to good use after killing it, and for centuries that helped them stay clear of many of the diseases that they could no longer avoid after coming into contact with the first European settles. They believed that eating a certain organ would improve the function in that organ in their own body; for example, eating brains would improve memory and cognitive function. That’s not exactly accurate, but each type of organ meat can be beneficial in its own way.
For instance, the heart is the best food source of CoQ10, which is important for energy production and mitochondrial health. Those that suffer from chronic health conditions often have a CoQ10 deficiency, which can be improved by eating animal heart. Liver may be the most nutrient dense food that exists, so much so that eating it once every two weeks can do amazing things for one’s health. Kidneys are also rich in nutrients, especially amino acids. Animal brains contain a healthy dose of the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, much like fish. Brain has the added benefit of containing anti-oxidants, and much like the Native Americans believed, it helps to protect neurological tissue, enhancing neurological function. Bones and tendons are helpful in creating healthy blood cells and maintaining a strong immune system.
Of course, the huge caveat with organ meat is that they should come from grass-fed and organically raised animals. Animals that are treated poorly, fed low-grade grain to fatten them up, and live unhealthy lives before being slaughtered for meat will not produce healthy organs. However, if you have assurance that organs came from animals that were raised properly and in good health, then organ meat can be a beneficial part of your diet, even if it’s only on the menu a few times per month.