The Health Benefits of Organ Meats

Jul 12, 2021

The breakneck pace of modern culture means it’s all too easy to discount the wisdom of how we did things in the past. For many people, just hearing the term “organ meats” may conjure up thoughts about bygone eras and outdated practices we no longer need or want to live by. Why read books when we have podcasts and an endless amount of choices on Netflix? Why eat organ meats when we have cutting-edge nutraceuticals?

When it comes to optimal nutrition, however, this type of thinking is fundamentally flawed. 

For all our technological advancements,’ our bodies haven’t evolved beyond the types of foods that got us here in the first place. We’re hardwired to eat an animal-based diet…whether we like it or not. 

You only need to look at how our ancient ancestors ate to see the proof. Far from being rooted in superstition, the nutritional habits of ancient cultures were perfected by eons of evolution–an intimate call and response between our bodies and the natural world. 

When we peer into our anthropological record we see that people all over the world prized organ meats above anything else. In times of scarcity, organs were preferentially given to tribal chieftains, elders, and pregnant women; in times of plenty, they were enjoyed by all. [1]  

What are organ meats?

Organ meats sometimes referred to as “offal,” are the organs of animals that we prepare and consume as food.

Organ meats all-stars:

  • Liver: A true superfood, and the most nutrient dense superfood, loaded with bioavailable vitamins that combat numerous diseases including heart disease and Alzheimers. 
  • Tongue: A tender muscle, high in healthy fats as well as zinc, iron, choline, and vitamin B12.
  • Heart: a great source of coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), an antioxidant that treats and prevents numerous diseases. 
  • Kidneys: high in omega 3 fatty acids, and known to contain anti-inflammatory properties. 
  • Brain: A delicacy in many cultures, and a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Sweetbreads: Neigher sweet, nor a bread, this organ meat comes from the thymus gland and pancreas. And is loaded with healthy mono- and polyunsaturated fats that improve blood cholesterol levels, lower the risk of heart disease, and help regulate blood sugar. 
  • Tripe: The lining of an animal’s stomach, tripe packs an impressive amount of nutrients, including selenium, zinc, and vitamin B12.

People have been eating organ meats for as long as we’ve been on this planet. Many traditional societies still make organ meats central to their diets.  And even in Western societies you still find sweetbreads made from thymus glands and pancreas, Menudo soup with tripe, and foie gras pate, a delicacy made from duck and goose liver. 

The most nutrient-dense foods in existence, organ meats are packed with highly-bioavailable nutrients, including both fat-soluble and water-soluble vitamins. 

Organs are also a great source of heme iron and protein. Last, but definitely not least, organ meats are uniquely rich in several different forms of vitamin K2, a nutrient that was previously known as “Activator X” for its ability to activate bone development. [4]

The many health benefits of organ meats 

Let’s shift perspectives and take a look at eight central health benefits practically all organ meats have in common. 

Organs meats are an excellent source of iron

Even a single serving of most organ meats is enough to hit your daily iron RDA.  What’s more, organ meats contain highly-bioavailable heme iron, which is far better absorbed than the non-heme iron found in plant foods. [26]

Organs meats may help retain muscle mass

The human body requires nine essential amino acids to function — and organ meats contain all of them.  Their high-quality protein can benefit anyone who wants to build muscle mass. Muscle mass, in turn, promotes increased weight loss by increasing your metabolic rate — the calories you expend while resting. [27]  

Organs meats are a great source of choline

Organ meats are one of nature’s best sources of choline, an essential nutrient that benefits the brain, muscles, and liver. Many people eating the standard American diet (SAD) are deficient in choline — eat your organs so that doesn’t happen to you! [28]

Organs meats are rich in peptides

Peptides are small amino acid-based molecules our bodies use to send important messages. 

The peptides found in bovine organs include BPC-157, Thymosin alpha-1, LEAP-2, tuftsin, and more. Science is just beginning to appreciate how these peptides might be contributing to the health benefits of different organ meats. [29]

Organs meats are rich in fat-soluble vitamins

“An essential characteristic of the successful dietary programs of primitive races,” wrote pioneering doctor Weston A. Price, “has been found to relate to a liberal source of fat-soluble vitamins.” [30]

Translation? Of all the vitamins out there, fat-soluble vitamins are probably the most important. Organ meats are very rich in these vitamins — and the ancients knew it. In times of plenty, native Americans would sometimes select the fattiest parts of an animal and throw the rest away. 

All this fat, of course, contained plenty of fat-soluble A, D, E, and K. 

Modern research has discovered that fat-soluble vitamins work together to promote bone health: vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium, vitamin A prepares the body to use calcium, and vitamin K2 helps shuttle the calcium to the right places. The same Dr. Price that documented dental health among ‘primitive’ cultures also documented cases of reversing cavities with vitamin K2 among his own patients.

Fat-soluble vitamins aren’t just important for dental health, either. They’re important for nearly everything

Organ meats keep you fuller for longer

The protein and fatty-acid content of organ meats may also help you stick with your ideal diet.  

Studies have shown that eating a high-fat, moderate protein diet can increase one’s feelings of fullness and decrease one appetite. [31]  At the same time, protein also ‘costs’ more energy than other macronutrients to be absorbed. If the keto diet has you experiencing out-of-control cravings, try incorporating more protein. We bet it’ll help. 

Organs meats make optimal health simple

Eating beef liver provides us with liver-specific health benefits. Likewise, eating kidneys provide kidney-specific nutrients. The same goes for eating heart, which provides us with all sorts of heart-healthy compounds.

Noticing a trend? Animal organs contain nutrients that benefit the same organs of those who eat them. It’s almost like nature wanted to make things simple for us!

Organs meats are very affordable

The term “superfood” may conjure images of fancy natural food stores and empty wallets. 

When it comes to buying organ meats, however, that’s simply not the case. Most organ meats are still very affordable. It’s not uncommon to find high-quality grass-fed and organic organs for just a few dollars a pound. 

The bottom line

For all our biomedical progress, optimal nutrition has been perfected by nature. Organ meats are a powerhouse source of numerous bioavailable vitamins and minerals that are hard to get from most other foods.

Incorporating organ meats will boost your nutrition while reducing food waste. It could also lead you to new cultural experiences.

The way we see it, returning to humankind’s original way of eating is a journey that’s meant to be cherished and enjoyed. So have fun optimizing your nutrition as you experiment with nature’s superfoods!


Part of article from: Meats: A Lost Tradition


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