Offal is not awful. Organ meats (also called offal) are a cornerstone of a traditional foods diet since they are the most nutritionally dense foods on the planet. Considering offal includes some of the best foods for hormones, fertility, and libido, it’s time to make them sexy again.
Organ meats were once the most prized
Organs meats are a critical source of bioavailable nutrients that are largely missing from Western diets.
Traditionally, offal was never discarded. In fact, they were the most prized part of the animal. While it varies by region, organ meats were typically reserved for pregnant women, heads of family, hunters, and elders.
We can observe their prized nature in the animal world too, as alpha wolves and lions typically eat the heart and liver first.
Why eat organ meats?
1. Nutrient density and bioavailability
Ounce for ounce, organ meats are the most nutritionally dense foods on the planet. Period.
2. Less wasteful
Respect the lives of animals that nourish our bodies by letting nothing go to waste.
Since offal is often discarded, it usually is an inexpensive way to get nutrients, protein, and fat. Especially if you buy in bulk!
It may sound a bit out there, but our ancestors were really onto something. In cultures across the world, traditional ways of supporting the health of various organs were to eat like-for-like. What does that even mean?
That means eating a specific organ from a healthy animal will support the health of that same organ in your body. For example, if your heart needs support, eat heart. If your liver needs support, eat liver. I know it sounds a little woo-woo, but there is actually science to back it up. If you look at the nutrients and enzymes and various components that make up each organ of an animal, you will see that they contain the very same nutrients and components that are needed to support those organs in human bodies.
Let’s look at some examples:
Eat Liver for Liver Health
Liver is an excellent source of b-vitamins, especially B12, B2, B5, and B7. Our livers need b-vitamins for both phases of liver detox, especially glucuronidation and methylation. These phases are critical to properly breaking down and eliminating urea, pharmaceuticals, excess hormones such as estrogen, and chemicals from xenoestrogens.
Eat Heart for Heart Health
Another great example is eating heart for heart health. Beef heart is one of the best sources of CoQ10. CoQ10 is essential for the production of ATP (energy) in the cell. For this reason, CoQ10 plays an important role in making sure cells with high energy requirements, such as cardiac cells, get enough energy.
Eat Thyroid for Thyroid Health
Eating the thyroid gland of healthy animals has been a practice for centuries as a form of thyroid therapy, especially in those with an underactive thyroid. Western medicine even caught onto this decades ago as powdered thyroid glands of both pigs and cows are often used as a natural alternative to taking synthetic thyroid drugs. I will note here that animal thyroid contains active thyroid hormone and thyroid hormone is a powerful substance and should be treated as such. For that reason, it is best to use animal thyroid under the supervision of a healthcare professional.
Benefits of Beef Liver
Beef liver is an unparalleled source of vitamin A (retinol).
Retinol, or true vitamin A is only found in animal products and 1 oz of beef liver contains well over 100% of your RDA. It is essential for thyroid health, healthy vision, and immune function. It is also key to healthy, glowing skin, nails, hair and healthy gums.
Beef liver is also an amazing source of zinc, copper, B12, B2, B3, B6, folate, choline, biotin, and selenium.
Benefits of Beef Heart
Beef heart is the richest source of CoQ10 in nature, a nutrient essential to heart health (a great example of like supporting like).
CoQ10 also slows the aging processes and boosts energy levels.
CoQ10 plays an important role in fertility with studies showing it can improve both male and female fertility.
Heart is also an excellent source of copper, zinc, and collagen-building amino acids.
Benefits of Beef Kidney
Beef kidney is another abundant source of vitamin A.
Suffer from allergies or histamine intolerance? Kidney is nature’s most abundant source of DAO. DAO is an enzyme whose job is to break down histamines (kidney = nature’s anti-histamine).
Kidney is also rich in selenium, with one serving providing about one-third of your daily needs of this powerful antioxidant.
Also a great source of b vitamins, especially B12 and riboflavin.
Benefits of Pancreas
Sweetbreads, especially pancreas, provide an abundant source of enzymes.
These enzymes contribute to optimal digestion while also supporting blood sugar signaling, all important for the functioning of your own pancreas.
Pancreas assists in digestion and nutrient assimilation and may also increase your own pancreatic reserves (another example of eating like-for-like).
How to start with organ meats:
It can take some time to develop a taste for offal, especially liver and kidney.
If you would have told me 10 years ago that liver and heart would one day be a staple in my diet, I would not have believed you.
Organ meats are warrior and fertility foods and fertility is a vital marker for optimal health. Enter into eating offal with a warrior mindset. Leave the “ew, yuck” mindset at the door and walk away a stronger, healthier you.
Here are a few easy ways to get started with organ meats:
- Beef and chicken heart skewers. Chicken hearts are mild in taste and similar texture to muscle meats (since heart is a muscle) so they are an easy organ meat to start with.
- Try a liver pate with raw carrot sticks or on toasted sourdough bread.
- Blend ground beef with heart and liver. Ask your butcher to do for you. There are also great brands like Force of Nature that offers ground meat and organ meat blends.
- Braunschweiger: a blend of ground meat, liver, herbs/spices. It’s delicious on GF sourdough toast. My favorite braunschweiger is from US Wellness Meats.
- Hide organ meats in meatballs, meatloaf, and cottage pie.
- Take in capsule form. Perfect Supplements has a great Organ Blend and Beef Liver capsules (Code CKN10 for 10% off).
Organ meats: A little goes a long way
Like all things, the law of diminishing returns applies. Just because some organ meats are good for you, doesn’t mean you should eat pounds of offal at every meal.
They are VERY high in nutrients so a little goes a long way.
For example, 3-6 oz of liver per week does the trick.
If you’re just starting out, there’s no shame in taking organ meats in supplement form. I often take these out of convenience for days or weeks I don’t have organ meat on hand.
Just make sure to get from a reputable source and from 100% grass-fed cows.
Organ meats have been a vital part of the human diet since the beginning of humans. They provide an abundance of nutrition and, when prepared properly, can be a delicious way to provide your body with the nutrients it needs.
What are your favorite ways to prepare offal? Share in the comments below!
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