7 Stunning Organ Meat Benefits for Health

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Organ Meat | Bad | Healthy | Types | Health Benefits | How Much | Conclusion | FAQ | Studies

We probably all grew up with bread and milk rather than tripe and heart.

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But although organ meats do not arouse hunger in most people, organs are the most nutritious parts of animals.

Not only our ancestors but also indigenous people today pounce on organ meat instead of the nutrient-poor steak.

Also, they honor and respect the sacrificed animal by eating nose to tail.

Moreover, we reduce the carbon footprint by not wasting these large and nutrient-dense parts of the animal. In this sense, we can act sustainably in many ways.

When an animal is broken down, you might know from the grocery store that it is usually sold as boneless cuts. Most of the rest are bone, skin, and organs.

But from a nutritional point of view, organ meat is far superior to popular muscle meat, as this scientific guide to the health benefits of organ meat will explain.

What Is Offal?

Organ meat, also called offal, is the organs of animals that humans prepare and consume.

The most commonly eaten organs come from cows, pigs, lambs, goats, chickens, and ducks.

However, today’s agriculture focuses on the rapid growth of muscle meat. As a result, organ meat is often overlooked, with most meat typically coming to the table as steaks, fillets, or minced meat.

In contrast, humans once ate more than just muscle meat as hunters and gatherers. Our ancestors demonstrably ate organs such as the heart, brain, or testicles. And they even preferred these parts of the animal (O’Dea 19911).

Correspondingly organ meats are first-class nutrient suppliers and a natural supplement.

Accordingly, offal is packed with nutrients, especially B and A, D, and E vitamins, copper, zinc, iron, magnesium, folic acid, and selenium. Thus, organ meat offers benefits that can complement virtually any diet.

Furthermore, animal protein provides all nine essential amino acids your body needs to function effectively.

even testicles offer organ meat benefits

Is Organ Meat Bad for You?

There is hardly a reason organ meats could be unhealthy.

Although many people still believe that cholesterol in offal clogs arteries and causes heart disease, research has proven otherwise.

Even though cholesterol accumulates in clogged arteries, dietary cholesterol cannot cause them.

With this in mind, the cholesterol in your blood is produced by your liver, which regulates cholesterol production according to dietary cholesterol intake (Jones et al. 20152).

Therefore, the liver produces less cholesterol when you eat high cholesterol foods. As a result, food has little effect on the total cholesterol level in the blood (P2Namara 19973).

LDL cholesterol (usually an estimated value on blood tests) is also not meaningful, as it can only become harmful through high blood sugar levels. Instead, high HDL and low triglyceride levels are crucial for good heart health.

Accordingly, scientists have repeatedly proven that cholesterol from food has little or no effect on heart disease (Fernandez 20124).

Nevertheless, in two cases, there can be dangers of eating liver in excess:

  • If you suffer from gout or
  • Eat extraordinary amounts of copper

People with gout, a common form of arthritis, might consider moderating their offal intake.

An exceptionally high uric acid level in the blood can cause gout, making joints swollen and sensitive (Choi et al. 20045).

And purines, compounds contained in offal, can be converted into uric acid in the body.

Also, beef liver has a very high copper content. And in some people, excess copper can cause liver problems (Gaetke et al. 20146).

However, the other minerals in the beef liver usually help handle the copper content.

You should go for chicken or pork liver if copper is a problem. Both are low in copper but still rich in nutrients.

Does Organ Meat Offer Health Benefits?

If you still aren’t convinced, we have to look at the numbers. Among organ meats are the most nutritious foods in the world, such as beef liver.

With this in mind, only 100 grams of beef liver is incredibly nutrient-dense and can lead to numerous health benefits (in % of the recommended daily dose*):

  • Vitamin A: 522%
  • Vitamin B6: 51%
  • Vitamin B12: 1386%
  • Niacin: 87%
  • Riboflavin: 201%
  • Selenium: 47%
  • Iron: 34%
  • Copper: 730%
  • Zinc: 35%

Types of Organ Meat and Their Benefits

As the example of beef liver shows, organ meat delivers more health benefits than muscle meat.

Furthermore, the following list of healthy organ meats may outshine most vegetables due to their nutrient density.

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1. Liver

When it comes to organ meats, beef liver is the reigning champion. Although beef liver does not taste good if not appropriately prepared, there is hardly a more nutritious food.

Although pork and chicken livers are excellent options, beef organ meat is the best source of vitamins and minerals.

Above all, the liver can provide precisely those nutrients that are difficult to find elsewhere:

  • Choline is healthy for the brain and cell membranes
  • Copper is essential for the absorption of iron in the intestine
  • Iron is crucial for the formation of red blood cells
  • Zinc is healthy for hormone production and the immune system
  • Folate is critical for energy production, methylation, DNA repair
  • Vitamin A1 (retinol) is beneficial for the eyes and the immune system
  • Vitamin B12 is essential for cellular energy production and methylation (O’Leary et al. 20107)

Since copper deficiency can cause blood deficiency (anemia), beef liver is one of the rare natural sources of copper that can help (Myint et al. 20188).

If you don’t like conventional beef liver, my tip is to try calf liver since it’s easier to prepare and tastes sweeter.

2. Heart

The heart is rich in a powerful antioxidant called Coenzyme Q10 or Ubiquinone-10.

And this CoQ10 can stop the oxidation of LDL cholesterol – the process that makes it dangerous in the blood – and thus demonstrably prevents cardiovascular disease (Langsjoen et al. 19999).

In terms of its antioxidant effect, CoQ10 is ten times more potent than, for example, vitamin E, making CoQ10 one of the most powerful antioxidants for lowering inflammation (Hernandez-Camacho et al. 201810).

CoQ10 improves the production of ATP, the cellular energy carrier, and thus can contribute to cancer prevention (Abdulhasan et al. 201711).

Although it is full of minerals, the heart muscle tastes more like muscle than organ meat.

My tip is the chicken heart, as it’s easy to grill and make a delicious appetizer on a skewer, as many South American countries traditionally serve it.

3. Tongue

Because I grew up in the southeast of Austria, the tongue is muscle meat that has shaped my childhood since smoked tongue is a traditional Easter dish.

The macronutrient profile of the tongue is very similar to other types of meat. While it contains many minerals, it is also quite rich in fat.

Because it is incredibly tender due to its high-fat content, I love eating tongue. Moreover, it’s an excellent choice for a diet rich in healthy fats, such as the keto diet.

4. Brain

Although the brain is not as rich in nutrients as some liver, it is tender, does not taste intense, and has a high-fat content.

And if it comes from a grass-fed animal, it is a prime source of bioavailable omega-3 fatty acids.

Brains are also a good source of choline and contain small amounts of some antioxidant nutrients such as vitamin A, vitamin E, and selenium.

Nevertheless, cattle brains are advised caution, as mad cow disease can affect cattle’s brain and spinal cord.

Consuming tissue from an infected cattle’s brain or nervous system can cause a human variant called Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD).

However, due to the global mad cow disease measures, the risk of contracting vCJD from beef organ meats is now shallow (Brown et al. 200112).

In case of doubt, you should avoid the spinal cord and brain of cattle.

5. Kidneys

The kidneys have a similar nutrient profile to the liver. Accordingly, they also contain very high selenium.

This antioxidant mineral has anti-inflammatory effects and reduces cell stress (Rayman 201213).

Hence, it’s probably no coincidence that selenium in kidneys brings health benefits to your kidneys (Iglesias et al. 201214).

6. Stomach

Although the stomach is not as nutritious as the liver, it still contains a lot of selenium. Moreover, this digestive organ, like most intestines, is rich in collagen, which is healthy for skin, hair, joints, and bones.

Also, collagen improves glucose metabolism and can counteract insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes (Zhu et al. 201715).

Therefore, collagen is a significant reason our ancestors loved offal and avoided steak.

7. Tripe

Chances are you’ve heard of tripe but have no idea what it is. Similarly, I used to think of dog food when I heard the word tripe.

But not so fast – tripe is exceptionally nutritious.

Accordingly, tripe contains protein, selenium, iron, B vitamins, and choline, but unlike liver, it does not have vitamin A (*).

Tripe is the inner lining of an animal’s stomach.

Therefore you can find them in the stomachs of ruminants such as cows, sheep, and deer. However, in 90% of the cases, you will get cow tripe.

Since tripe represents the stomach lining, it is tough and needs to be cooked for quite a while to become tender. Accordingly, you can find tripe in a variety of stews around the world.

8. Gizzard

For gizzard, we need a short anatomy or biology degression.

These stomachs come from the digestive tract of poultry and birds (or even reptiles and fish). They are a cheap source of vitamins, minerals, and proteins.

One hundred grams of gizzard contains 30 grams of protein, 60% of the recommended daily selenium intake, and about 15% of the daily requirement of vitamin B12, zinc, phosphorus, niacin, and riboflavin (*).

Although the gizzard is a digestive organ, it is also a muscle. Therefore, you should cook the somewhat chewy gizzards like tripe for a more extended period to become tender.

9. Tail

Although oxtails or pork tails are not organs, they are still considered organ meat or offal.

These gelatinous cuts are rich in revitalizing collagen, making them perfect for stews, soups, and broth.

10. Sweetbread

Sweetbread is a term from the 16th century and refers to an animal’s thymus gland (esophagus).

Therefore, sweetbread is the esophagus of a calf, a cow, a lamb, or a pig.

Sweetbread differs from other organ meats in its high content of vitamin C, which is why it has antioxidant and immune function-promoting properties.

A hundred grams of sweetbread already covers over 50% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C and 35%, 26%, and 20% of vitamin B12, selenium, and riboflavin.

Since sweetbread is a rich delicacy, it is usually served with spices or acidic foods to neutralize the taste.

Organ Meat Health Benefits

Well, now we know that our ancestors were probably right in preferring organ meat over steak.

Due to the health benefits of organs, meat can serve as a more absorbable multivitamin supplement, ranging from disease prevention to weight loss and detox.

7 organ meat benefits (infographic)

1. Weight Loss

Many studies have shown that high-protein diets can reduce appetite and increase the feeling of satiety.

For example, they do this by significantly slowing down stomach emptying.

But few know that they can also increase the metabolic rate (Johnston et al. 200216).

Furthermore, many B vitamins in organ meat help build healthy muscle mass and burn body fat for energy.

2. Muscle Gain

First, offal is a source of high-quality protein, vital for building and maintaining muscle mass.

For example, healthy organ meat can be effective against age-related muscle loss (Lord et al. 200717).

Second, they provide leucine. As this is the most anabolic essential amino acid, it stimulates muscle growth on a cellular basis.

However, we now know excessive growth and leucine can harm health (Bremer et al. 201218).

Therefore, offal is a better choice than fillet cuts, as it has a far better balance of healthy fats and amino acids.

3. Cognition

Organ meat is one of the world’s best sources of choline, an essential nutrient for the brain, muscles, and liver, of which you can hardly get enough.

According to the study, choline improves cognitive performance, anxiety, and mood disorders (Poly et al. 201119).

Furthermore, offal contains easily absorbable heme iron, which can support brain function (Beck et al. 201420).

And the brain itself also supplies omega-3 fatty acids, which in turn are even more organ meat health benefits for your brain.

4. Detoxification

Anyone who eats liver and heart can confidently put detox juices into the sink since they are loaded with insulin resistance-promoting fructose.

As explained above, the heart is full of Coenzyme Q10, one of the most potent natural antioxidants (Hernandez-Camacho et al. 201821).

Moreover, even a tiny piece of beef liver can cover the entire daily requirement of another essential coenzyme: Molybdenum.

Since molybdenum, responsible for converting sulfites into sulfates, helps the body break down alcohol and other toxins, it improves the metabolism of drugs and alcohol.

And high levels of sulfites can have harmful effects on health (Mendel et al. 200622).

liver is a delicious organ meat offering lots of benefits

5. Energy

CoQ10 is not only a potent compound for detoxification but also when it comes to energy production.

After CoQ10 helps mitochondria to produce ATP, the cellular energy carrier, more efficiently, studies show that an increased intake of CoQ10, i.e., from beef heart, can improve energy levels (Abdulhasan et al. 201723).

Additionally, the numerous B vitamins in offal support burning fat as an energy source, making them ideal for a ketogenic diet.

6. Radiant Skin

Edible beef offal is one of the rare natural sources of vitamin A1 (retinol).

This antioxidant protects skin cells from oxidative stress, such as ultraviolet light. Accordingly, it can slow aging, promote skin renewal, smooth wrinkles, and counteract acne (Park 201524).

Moreover, most organ meat is an excellent source of collagen, bringing health benefits to the skin and hair.

7. Homocysteine Reduction

Offal contains high B vitamins, such as folate, vitamin B6, and B12.

According to the study, precisely these B vitamins in organ meat can lower the homocysteine level in the blood (Esse et al. 201925).

Homocysteine is an amino acid that can damage arterial mucosa – the endothelium – and promote cardiovascular disease, migraine, or Alzheimer’s disease.

How Much Offal Should I Eat?

Now that we know what healthy micronutrients offal brings to our diet, it is evident that organ meat contributes to the flawless functioning of the body.

Even one portion of beef liver can cover the weekly requirement of various vitamins and minerals. Correspondingly beef liver offers the most health benefits.

However, the liver is the kind of organ meat from cattle that many people do not like eating.

Nevertheless, you have several options for eating extremely nutritious organ meat:

  • You can eat about 100 grams of beef liver once a week
  • You can eat smaller portions of about one ounce every odd day
  • Instead, you can prepare the more tasty calf liver
  • Or you can eat other organ meats in larger quantities

Either way, you don’t have to eat beef liver all the time, even if it is the most nutrient-dense food since your body stores nutrients.

Moreover, in my experience, a calf’s liver tastes sensationally good. Although this is not necessary, as it is almost as nutritious as beef liver, I could quickly eat one pound at once if prepared well (*).

With other healthy offal such as chicken or pork liver, kidney, heart, or stomach, you can go wild as you like, as they do not have such an extreme nutrient density as beef liver.

Offal Effortlessly Outperforms Supplements

Organ meat, such as liver, heart, and kidneys, is a natural superfood that yields health benefits and helps absorb nutrients.

When you take vitamins or minerals in isolation, such as a pill, the body cannot absorb them properly.

Natural foods, exceptionally organ meats, help to absorb nutrients better. For example, vitamins A, D, and K are fat-soluble because you need to consume them with fat for optimal bioavailability (Albahrani et al. 201626).

Offal already provides this package of healthy fats, minerals, and vitamins. Moreover, they offer a much broader spectrum than a single supplement.

Furthermore, by eating nose to tail, we contribute to sustainability, avoid food waste, and honor the sacrificed animal.

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Organ Meat Benefits FAQ

What is the most nutritious organ meat?

Beef liver is probably the most nutritious food. It contains A, B, D, and E vitamins, copper, zinc, iron, riboflavin, niacin, and selenium. If you don’t like the intensive taste, reach for the more pleasant calf’s liver.

How often can you eat organ meats?

How often you eat offal depends on your preferences. Four ounces of nutrient-dense beef liver per week can yield the health benefits of eating organ meats. But if you feel like you can go wild on other organ meats too.

Do organ meats contain collagen?

Most organ meats contain collagen. The tail and stomach are great choices if you want to get a lot of collagen without intense taste.

How do you eat more organ meats?

With this article, you can bring more organ meats to your diet by knowing the various types of organ meat and their health benefits.

Studies

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3 P2Namara DJ. Cholesterol intake and plasma cholesterol: an update. J Am Coll Nutr. 1997 Dec;16(6):530-4. Review. PubMed PMID: 9430080.

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#8-13

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9 Langsjoen PH, Langsjoen AM. Overview of the use of CoQ10 in cardiovascular disease. Biofactors. 1999;9(2-4):273-84. doi: 10.1002/biof.5520090224. Review. PubMed PMID: 10416041.

10 Hernández-Camacho JD, Bernier M, López-Lluch G, Navas P. Coenzyme Q10 Supplementation in Aging and Disease. Front Physiol. 2018;9:44. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2018.00044. eCollection 2018. Review. PubMed PMID: 29459830; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5807419.

11 Abdulhasan MK, Li Q, Dai J, Abu-Soud HM, Puscheck EE, Rappolee DA. CoQ10 increases mitochondrial mass and polarization, ATP and Oct4 potency levels, and bovine oocyte MII during IVM while decreasing AMPK activity and oocyte death. J Assist Reprod Genet. 2017 Dec;34(12):1595-1607. doi: 10.1007/s10815-017-1027-y. Epub 2017 Sep 12. PubMed PMID: 28900834; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5714820.

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13 Rayman MP. Selenium and human health. Lancet. 2012 Mar 31;379(9822):1256-68. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(11)61452-9. Epub 2012 Feb 29. Review. PubMed PMID: 22381456.

#14-19

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15 Zhu C, Zhang W, Mu B, Zhang F, Lai N, Zhou J, Xu A, Liu J, Li Y. Effects of marine collagen peptides on glucose metabolism and insulin resistance in type 2 diabetic rats. J Food Sci Technol. 2017 Jul;54(8):2260-2269. doi: 10.1007/s13197-017-2663-z. Epub 2017 Jun 14. PubMed PMID: 28740282; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5502017.

16 Johnston CS, Day CS, Swan PD. Postprandial thermogenesis is increased 100% on a high-protein, low-fat diet versus a high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet in healthy, young women. J Am Coll Nutr. 2002 Feb;21(1):55-61. doi: 10.1080/07315724.2002.10719194. PubMed PMID: 11838888.

17 Lord C, Chaput JP, Aubertin-Leheudre M, Labonté M, Dionne IJ. Dietary animal protein intake: association with muscle mass index in older women. J Nutr Health Aging. 2007 Sep-Oct;11(5):383-7. PubMed PMID: 17657359.

18 Bremer AA, Mietus-Snyder M, Lustig RH. Toward a unifying hypothesis of metabolic syndrome. Pediatrics. 2012 Mar;129(3):557-70. doi: 10.1542/peds.2011-2912. Epub 2012 Feb 20. Review. PubMed PMID: 22351884; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3289531.

19 Poly C, Massaro JM, Seshadri S, Wolf PA, Cho E, Krall E, Jacques PF, Au R. The relation of dietary choline to cognitive performance and white-matter hyperintensity in the Framingham Offspring Cohort. Am J Clin Nutr. 2011 Dec;94(6):1584-91. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.110.008938. Epub 2011 Nov 9. PubMed PMID: 22071706; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3252552.

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21 Hernández-Camacho JD, Bernier M, López-Lluch G, Navas P. Coenzyme Q10 Supplementation in Aging and Disease. Front Physiol. 2018;9:44. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2018.00044. eCollection 2018. Review. PubMed PMID: 29459830; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5807419.

22 Mendel RR, Bittner F. Cell biology of molybdenum. Biochim Biophys Acta. 2006 Jul;1763(7):621-35. doi: 10.1016/j.bbamcr.2006.03.013. Epub 2006 May 12. Review. PubMed PMID: 16784786.

23 Abdulhasan MK, Li Q, Dai J, Abu-Soud HM, Puscheck EE, Rappolee DA. CoQ10 increases mitochondrial mass and polarization, ATP and Oct4 potency levels, and bovine oocyte MII during IVM while decreasing AMPK activity and oocyte death. J Assist Reprod Genet. 2017 Dec;34(12):1595-1607. doi: 10.1007/s10815-017-1027-y. Epub 2017 Sep 12. PubMed PMID: 28900834; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5714820.

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This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Carlijn

    Very informative and thorough information, great job! I feel so much better when consuming organ meats. I suspect it’s the b12, which I did supplement but like you say, supplements aren’t ideal. Guess nature always knows best.

  2. Ann Pletcher

    Thank you for this explanation. Excellent approach to micro nutrients.
    I am going to focus more on organ meats on the diet. Recently have eaten liver 7 out of the last 10 days. This has me feeling much healthier and my inflammation and autoimmune issues are subsiding. You are a blessing!

    1. Hi Ann,

      Thank you for the appreciating words. Great that the information could help you out 🙂

      Please keep us posted about how you are progressing with your inflammation and autoimmune issues!

      BR,
      Stephan

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