If you are in the younger age brackets or you live in a first world country, chances are that most of the meat you have ever seen was either coming from supermarkets or fancy display counters.
The first image of meat that comes to your mind is of a steak and you can’t imagine a whole butchered animal hanging upside down in a slaughterhouse without any skin.
Supermarkets usually employ slaughterhouses that send over only the juiciest, perfect American cuts, while the rest is used in side products or is discarded. The emphasis on eating muscle meat is immense, especially in countries like the US. There is very little value placed on organ meats or other parts of the animal, such as ones that contain collagen.
Eating more than just muscle meat is an emerging trend that is gaining momentum. This approach is being supported by chefs, butchers, and bodybuilders and it hopes to change the mindset. Not only is eating just muscle meat a huge source of physical waste, it is also a waste of immensely valuable nutrients that are hard to find in our diets normally and especially if you are only eating ribeyes.
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This term was coined by a well-known chef Fergus Henderson in his book The Whole Beast: Nose-to-Tail Eating, which was published in 2004.
This name might be new but the process itself is primordial. Our ancestors had to survive and thrive in a very hostile environment. The lived in a time when hunting could take days and could easily cost them their lives. Do you think that they only chose to eat the muscle meat of the animal, while leaving the organ meats behind? Did they throw away the carcass after a taking a small part of it? No way. They ate everything. From the nose of the game to the tail, every bite was valuable to them.
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All this has changed now with the industrial revolution and super-efficient animal farming techniques where we are capable of breeding millions of livestock animals every year.
“Nose-to-tail eating is not a bloodlust, testosterone-fueled offal hunt. It is common sense, and it is all good stuff.”
- Fergus Henderson in his book The Whole Beast: Nose to Tail Eating.
In our struggle to appear perfect and fancy, “pretty” cuts have taken over our dining tables. Most of the animals we eat are thrown away and the variety of taste and flavor that we take from the animal is ignored.
“ If you're going to kill the animal it seems only polite to use the whole thing.”
- Fergus Henderson in his book The Whole Beast: Nose to Tail Eating.
What we forget is that every portion of an animal has unique nutrients that can provide the resources to supply our many needs. For example, human hearts require certain unique nutrients to perform well. We may get those nutrients from a variety of foods but what is the surest, easiest way to get all the nutrients for a heart in a single place? An animal’s heart.
Makes a little bit of sense huh?
Organ Meats Are the Hidden Superfood:
Here’s the list of organ meats that can be consumed and are easily available in the markets:
All these organs, aside from being excellent protein sources, are also particularly rich in B-vitamins, folate, iron, magnesium, selenium and zinc, and important fat-soluble vitamins like vitamins A, D, E and K.
They also provide all the nine essential amino acids required by our bodies.
Below is a short nutritional overview for some of the commonly consumed organ meats:
A beef heart contains much nutritional value, including all essential amino acids, zinc, selenium, and phosphorus. It has more than double the elastin and collagen that other meats have and is a highly concentrated source of Q10, also known as CoQ10.
This coenzyme is used for conditions that affect the heart, such as heart failure, chest pain, and high blood pressure. It is also used for preventing migraine headache, Parkinson's disease, and many other conditions.
A 4-ounce portion of beef brain contains 12.3 grams of protein. Beef brain is well acclaimed for possessing high amounts of docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA, which is a type of omega-3 fatty acid that is essential for our own brains.
Beef brain also has a copper content of 324 micrograms and a selenium content of 24 micrograms, which covers 44% of the daily recommended selenium intake and 36% of recommended daily intake of copper.
A small portion of beef brain also contains 2.3 mg of vitamin B-5, also known as pantothenic acid — covering 46 percent of recommended daily intake — and provides 11 micrograms of vitamin B-12, which is multiple times daily B-12 requirement.
Beef liver, the most nutrient dense organ meat, is the best dietary addition you can make to provide your body with. A 3.5 oz portion of cooked beef liver provides 175 calories and the following nutrients:
- Protein: 27 grams
- Vitamin B12: 1,386% of the RDI
- Copper: 730% of the RDI
- Vitamin A: 522% of the RDI
- Riboflavin: 201% of the RDI
- Niacin: 87% of the RDI
- Vitamin B6: 51% of the RDI
- Selenium: 47% of the RDI
- Zinc: 35% of the RDI
- Iron: 34% of the RDI
As seen by the percentages, a 3.5 oz portion of liver can give you all the vitamins and minerals you need. So much in fact that you might get sick.
The contents of these nutrient-dense meats is immense and a sad fact is that most of these are thrown away because they don’t carry the taste we are accustomed to.
Is It Okay to Eat Beef Liver Everyday?
Beef liver is the complete package of nutrients. It has a high concentration of protein and contains many essential vitamins and minerals. This food that our ancestors would have considered a superfood has been shunned away as we became ever more “sophisticated.
In place of this, we began eating processed “tasty” junk which we infused with industrially derived vitamins and minerals from plants.
To understand the value of this food, know that Chris Kresser, a well-respected clinician and educator in the fields of functional medicine and ancestral health, calls liver “nature’s most potent food.”
Beef liver is very high in nutrients such as iron, B12, Vitamin A, and copper. So rich that a small intake of liver greatly exceeds recommended levels.
A study done on toxic and trace elements in the liver and kidney meat of slaughtered animals found that a 100g portion of beef liver contains more than six times the recommended dietary intake (RDI) of vitamin A, and 7 times the RDI of copper.
Too much of Vitamin A can cause problems like bone pain, increased risk of fractures, nausea, vomiting, and vision problems. Too much copper can cause vomiting, hypotension (low blood pressure), jaundice (yellowish pigmentation of the skin), gastrointestinal distress, and even coma.
It is therefore NOT suggested to eat liver every day.
Is there a better solution? Yes.
Beef liver pills are a much healthy alternative. Lower in potency, easily available, and devoid of the “acquired” taste that puts people off with regular liver. Tablets of beef liver extract can be taken each day, and equate to 2 oz of liver per week.
These allow you to keep this superfood in your diet, but at levels that are not too high. These pills represent a potent, healthy, and nutritious package from nature.
Are Beef Liver Pills Any Good?
If you can find a natural way to get all your vitamins and minerals, it is a much better route to go than to supplement with industrial, plant derived vitamin supplements.
Beef liver pills are a great example of this. This supplement was the solution to the issue of people not liking the taste of liver, but knowing how beneficial it was to consume it. This is also great because you know exactly how much of various nutrients are being consumed. You can objectively determine whether you are hitting the RDI of B vitamins, copper, and Vitamin A.
It is important to vet your chosen organ supplements though, especially in how they source their products. It is important to get only supplements that were derived from pastured cows because organs like the kidneys and liver end up absorbing many of the toxins present in the diets and environments of grain fed cows.
What your food ate matters.
The best source I have found in terms of overall quality has been from Ancestral Supplements.
They only source from pastured beef and they operate by Good Manufacturing Practices, which if you’ve ever seen factories that don’t follow GMP, you’ll understand.
Their supplements are all high-quality, so I consume more than just their beef liver pills.
One pill, one glass of water and that’s it.
What Is Liver Extract Used For?
Liver extract or liver pills are used for improving liver function, treating chronic liver diseases, preventing liver damage, and regenerating liver tissue. It is also used for
Some common uses of beef liver pills are for:
- Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)
- Enhancing muscle development in bodybuilders
- Improving stamina, strength, and physical endurance
- Removing chemicals from the body (detoxification)
- Recovering from chemical addiction or poisoning.
- Boosting energy
- Increasing immunity
- Regulating cholesterol levels
- Blood sugar maintenance
Research has also shown that liver extract can help fight Hepatitis B and C and has been used since ancient times to prevent and treat cancer.
If you take anything from the nose-to-tail ideals, it’s this: place a much higher emphasis on eating parts from the whole animal. Our diets have become poorer and poorer in nutrients.
Processed foods may be engineered to make us want them, but they can never compete with the substance of organ meats.
Eat right. Live right.