To some, eating raw liver might sound a bit strange. However, there’s a rise in popularity around the carnivore diet and “nose-to-tail” eating. Nutritionally, raw liver can be a rich source of essential vitamins and minerals.
With the right balance, it has the potential to support vision, fertility, muscle development, energy, and even your immune system. Still, there are experts that say it can pose health risks, as some raw meats might.
Is It Okay to Eat Raw Liver?
For centuries, liver has been a popular delicacy in many cultures. In modern Western culture, though, we see it as something to avoid. Typically, this is due to the smell, flavor, and texture, which many consider an acquired taste.
Liver has an almost jelly-like texture when raw in addition to its bitter flavor. However, it contains a broad array of vitamins and minerals, including a high concentration of vitamin A and a spread of B vitamins.
Fans of eating raw liver tout the “anti-fatigue” properties it carries. Back in 1951, a study showed that it had the potential to enhance stamina. In the study, rats fed liver were able to swim for far longer than a control group.
However, the NHS warns that insufficiently cooked meat carries bacteria that may cause illness. This includes E. coli, salmonella, and Campylobacter. If we consume these bacteria, it can lead to food poisoning and an array of digestive issues.
Freezing Raw Liver Before Consumption
Advocates of eating raw liver tend to argue that freezing the meat prevents the bacteria from multiplying. However, it’s important to understand that even small amounts of bacteria are enough to cause a problem.
Grass-Fed Vs Grain-Fed
If you choose to eat raw liver despite the stated risks, there’s another factor to keep in mind. For instance, there’s a difference between grass-fed beef liver and grain-fed.
Research shows that feeding cattle GMO grains and treating them with antibiotics impacts the safety and quality of the liver. Poor farming conditions, antibiotics, and toxin-heavy diets have the potential to cause scar tissue to form on the liver. Moreover, it can reduce liver function and leave traces of toxic substances in the tissue.
Additionally, studies show that there is 4 times the phytonutrient content in grass-fed beef.
The Benefits of Eating Raw Liver
While health officials warn against eating raw liver for the reasons above, others believe that it provides a range of benefits. It’s important to note that some similar benefits come from cooked liver as well.
Higher Folate Levels
Folate is the natural form of Vitamin B9, which is crucial for the growth of healthy cells. However, the standard American diet doesn’t always provide enough of this vitamin.
Often, companies add folic acid, which is synthetic, to prenatal vitamins and enriched flour. Unfortunately, the body has a hard time converting it into folate. However, beef liver is a rich source of folate, which can benefit red blood cells.
When we consume dietary fat along with fat-soluble vitamins (such as found in liver), our bodies absorb and utilize them. Fat-soluble vitamins include vitamins A, D, E, and K.
Proponents say that liver is an excellent way to improve your vitamin D intake, especially during the winter when people have less access to direct sunlight. Vitamin D is vital for a range of functions, including our immune systems and how we absorb phosphorous and calcium. Moreover, sufficient levels are crucial for the growth of our bones and teeth.
Raw liver is also a great source of trace minerals, also known as micro minerals. These are essential for development. While our bodies only require a small amount, these minerals have a huge impact on our health.
They support our nervous system, the growth of hormones, and blood circulation, and liver is a great source. Whether dried, raw, or cooked, it is high in iron, zinc, phosphorous, selenium, and copper.
One of the Richest Sources of Iron
Liver is among the richest sources of absorbable iron, which is heme iron. This plays a vital role in the function of our immune systems, energy metabolism, and cognition.
Concentrated Vitamin B12
In animal products, we often find the only source of significant levels of B12. Raw beef liver has more B12 than any other food. In 100 grams of raw beef liver, you can find 2471% of the recommended RDV.
What does B12 do, though? Well, it’s crucial for the production of DNA and red blood cells, necessary for nerve health, and helps us maintain normal cognitive function. Additionally, a controlled trial in 2013 found that supplementation of B12 helps to improve symptoms of depression.
Dr. Weston A. Price, a pioneering dentist, found that the consumption of liver and other organs helped to promote better bone and dental health in some traditional cultures. Alternatively, modern Western diets high in processed foods were much more susceptible to decay.
Many of these benefits likely came from the fat-soluble vitamins that we’ve explored above.
Eating Raw Liver: Ready for a Bite?
As you can see, eating raw liver is a way to provide your body with a rich source of nutrients. However, many health agencies recommend against the consumption of raw meat. Still, you can achieve many of the same benefits from cooked liver or supplements.
Whether you eat it raw or cooked, it’s important to limit your consumption to under 100 grams each week. This helps you avoid overconsumption of certain vitamins that can cause health problems. When you follow the right guidelines, eating liver is healthy and safe. Interested in trying liver? Visit our store to find a great source of grass-fed beef from humanely raised cattle.