Organ Meats: Our Ancestral Multivitamin and Multimineral Supplement

It may surprise you that four of our planet’s seven most nutrient-dense foods are animal organ meats, with bovine liver taking first place. There are many ways to evaluate how healthy a particular food is and whether it just safeguards a basic level of survival or provides all essential nutrients that allow us to thrive physically and psychologically. Nutrient density is the only accurate measure of how the food we eat ultimately affects our health. Our Hominid ancestors successfully evolved over six million years consuming nutrient-dense organ meats containing all fat and water-soluble vitamins, minerals, trace elements, fatty acids, and amino acids. Even our more recent ancestors-grandparents and great-grandparents-included organ meats in their diet. Today, well-designed and accurate epidemiological studies have confirmed that 90% of Americans are deficient in one or more essential nutrients. Our Standard American Diet (SAD) is sadly not supplying us with the vital nutrients of life!

In our modern culture, consuming organ meats for their nutrient value is complicated for several reasons. Clean organ meats may be challenging to source and prepare, and palatability is a significant concern for many people. Fortunately, some reputable companies have been able to produce a freeze-dried blend of organ meats in capsule form. The organs are sourced from pasture-raised Icelandic, New Zealand, and Argentinian sheep and cattle not exposed to hormones, antibiotics, or environmental toxins and free from Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE). The freeze-drying process preserves all the essential nutrients, enzymes, and amino acids. This is nature’s true “superfood.”

Depending on where you live, there are dozens of “accepted” types of organ meats. Here are a few of the most common:

Liver

A nutritional powerhouse indeed! It’s an incredible source of fat-soluble vitamins, essential minerals, iron, protein, and amino acids. It can supply organ-specific nutrients and enzymes, meaning eating the liver can promote a healthy liver.

Heart

While it may not contain as many nutrients as the liver, the heart (especially bovine heart) provides you with the most CoQ10 (coenzyme Q10) of any organ meat. The heart contains over 100 percent of the daily value of the vitamin B12 you need, over half the riboflavin, and significant amounts of niacin, iron, phosphorus, copper, and selenium.

Kidneys

The kidney can provide 228% of the daily value recommended for selenium. This trace mineral has several powerful health benefits, including preventing specific cancer types, decreasing oxidative stress, and enhancing immune function.

Sweetbreads

Sweetbread refers to the organs found in two body parts: the thymus and pancreas. This is also the first organ meat in which vitamin C wins the top spot for nutrient profile, making cooking with it ideal for those looking to boost immunity and decrease cancer risk.

 

Heath benefits of consuming organ meats

High in Vitamin A

Vitamin A, one of the most potent antioxidants known to man, is found in massive quantities in most organ meats. Because it functions as an antioxidant to fight free radical damage, vitamin A protects your body against several diseases associated with oxidative stress and inflammation.

Good Source of B Vitamins

All B vitamins in organ meats (vitamin B12, niacin, vitamin B6, riboflavin) are associated with a cardioprotective effect. This means that, in one way or another, all of them help protect you against heart disease.

Supports Healthy Pregnancy

Several of the vitamins found in organs are crucial for promoting a healthy pregnancy. Vitamin B6, for example, helps decrease pain responses to menstrual cramps and has been shown to help eliminate some nausea usually experienced in the “morning sickness” phase of pregnancy. Folate is also crucial to fetal growth and development, so it’s found in almost all prenatal supplements and diet plans.

Supplies CoQ10

Another essential nutrient in many organ meats is coenzyme Q10, or CoQ10. While not considered a vitamin because the body produces it in small quantities, research shows that CoQ10 functions as an antioxidant and has been used for some time as a natural method to prevent and treat certain diseases.

Protects Against Anemia

Many of the nutrients found in organs work together to fight anemia. This condition occurs when your body cannot create and deliver enough oxygen-rich, hemoglobin-filled blood cells.

Promotes Muscle-Building

Organ meats are a great source of protein, an essential nutrient that plays a central role in tissue growth and repair. Getting enough protein in your diet is especially important for building and preserving muscle mass. For instance, one study published in the Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging showed that higher protein intake from animal sources was linked to increased muscle preservation.

When you think of a “superfood” it may conjure up images of nuts, seeds, exotic berries, and mushrooms – but there’s a rarely-discussed category of superfoods that our ancestors ate regularly…and that most of us now eat almost none of. The #1 nutrient-filled superfood on the planet is actually organ meats!

 

Michael Chase, MS, NTP
Nutrition Science and Dietetics

DISCLAIMER: The information provided in this post is for educational purposes only, and should not be construed as personal medical advice or instruction. No action should be taken based solely on the contents of this information. Individuals should consult appropriate health professionals on any matter relating to their health and well-being. The statements made in this informational document have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Any product discussed is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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