We consider those foods as “Superfoods” that contain maximum amounts of essential nutrients like proteins, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. The liver is one such food, that is often referred to as a ‘Nutritional Powerhouse.’ For its high nutrition value, the liver is called a treasure food source- that houses high-quality protein, essential vitamins, minerals, and is exceptionally low in calorie content.
What is the liver?
The liver is the largest solid internal organ and one of the most vital organs of an animal body. Eating liver once per week is an effective way to ensure that you get the optimal amount of the major vital nutrients, like excessive amounts of B vitamins. The liver performs various important functions:
- Manufactures Albumin: It helps carry blood and body fluids through the blood vessels and prevents them from spreading into other tissues and carries hormones and enzymes throughout the body, thus improving the circulatory system.
- Bile Synthesis: Liver produces bile, a fluid that helps in digestion in the small intestine, absorption, and metabolism.
- Purifying Blood: Liver removes the toxins and other impurities like germs, bacteria and so on from the blood, coming from stomach and the intestines and thus helps to resist infections.
- Blood Clotting: Liver produces blood coagulant proteins with the help of Vitamin K that is carried into the bloodstream through bile.
- Vitamins and Minerals Storing: The liver stores significant amounts of vitamins A, D, E, K, and B complex, as well as iron and copper.
- Glucose Production: The liver removes excess glucose (sugar) from the bloodstream and stores it as glycogen. As needed, it can convert glycogen back into glucose.
Liver and organ meats are highly recommended for a healthy diet, though sometimes muscle meats are also favored by dieticians and experts.
Regardless of its declining popularity, the liver is possibly one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet.
People often look to fruits and vegetables for vitamins and minerals, but the liver far surpasses them all in terms of nutrient content.
A small amount of liver provides well over 100% of the RDI for many essential nutrients. It is also rich in high-quality protein and low in calories (1).
Liver and its rich nutrients:
The Vitamins and Minerals
The liver is by far the most nutritious organ that provides enormous health benefits when consumed and has a high nutrition profile. Here are the nutrients found in a 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of beef liver (1 Trusted Source)
- Riboflavin (B2): 210–260% of the RDI. Riboflavin in liver helps in cellular development and functioning. It also helps to bring out the energy stored within food for the proper mechanism of organs (2 Trusted Source).
- Vitamin B12: 3,460% of the RDI. Vitamin B12 regulates the blood circulatory system and formation of RBC (red blood cells) and helps in DNA synthesis (3 Trusted Source).
- Folate (B9): 65% of the RDI. Folate helps in the synthesis of DNA and cell growth and plays an essential role in tissue formation (4 Trusted Source).
- Iron: 80% of the RDI, or 35% for menstruating women and for those suffering from iron deficiency or anemia. Iron helps in the production of blood cells and hemoglobin, an important blood component that helps produce oxygen and this oxygen is circulated throughout the body (5 Trusted Source).
- Copper: 1,620% of the RDI. Copper acts as a catalyst that activates a number of enzymes, which helps in energy production, iron metabolism and brain function (6 Trusted Source)
- Choline: Liver provides all of the Adequate Intake (AI). Choline is important for the development and functioning of the brain (7 Trusted Source).
- Vitamin A: 860–1,100% of the RDI. Vitamin A is important for vision, to build proper metabolism and to strengthen immunity. It also helps organs like the heart and kidneys function properly (8 Trusted Source).
The High-Quality Protein and Calorie Burn
The high-quality protein present in the liver produces the key amino acids present in the liver help to boost your metabolic rate, or the essential number of calories your body uses to function (12Trusted Source), thus, helping to control proper circulation, metabolism, and absorption.
If you are planning for weight loss, have liver. Because, when you are planning to reduce calorie intake, you can often miss out on vital nutrition. The liver helps to burn up calories, builds and strengthens muscles, and prevents muscle loss while losing weight. (9 Trusted Source).
The liver has a much lower amount of calorie content than many similar protein-rich foods or muscle meats. A 3.5-ounce (100-gram) sirloin steak or lamb chop contains over 200 calories, while beef liver of the same amount contains just 175 calories, providing all the vital vitamins and more minerals than a sirloin steak or lamb chop.
The liver contains plenty of high-quality proteins, essential vitamins, and minerals that are not found in many regularly consumed meat, fruits, or vegetables altogether. Moreover, eating foods that are high in nutrients but low in calories are scientifically proven to have reduced hunger, and the liver is one such food (10 Trusted Source).
The liver has a very low-fat content. Only around 25% of its calories come from fat, compared to 50–60% of calories in steak and lamb.
How to include liver in your everyday diet?
Liver, like any other meat, tastes genuinely good and is even loved by children at lunch, if cooked properly. Here are some suggestions on how to include it in your diet:
Pan-fried Liver: You can enjoy liver with simple tossed and pan-fried, with sprinkled herbs and butter
With Spaghetti: Liver can be minced and mixed with any kind of meat (beef steaks, chicken, or mutton) and have it with penne or spaghetti
Liver with Seasoning: Add spices and herbs to the liver and enjoy it baked or grilled.
Liver in milk or lemon juice: Try preparing the liver with milk and lemon juice to reduce the strong smell of the liver. You can also add cheese if you want.
Some concerns about the liver:
Though the liver is extremely rich in nutrients, some people are concerned about eating the liver. One of the most common reasons behind it is whether its rich cholesterol content is a problem.
The liver is high in cholesterol, and those with heart disease should avoid having the liver frequently, to keep the balance of their LDL and HDL levels.
Most heart diseases related to cholesterol are produced in the body. And when you eat foods high in cholesterol, your body produces loses the balance of good and bad cholesterol. (11 Trusted Source).
However, the majority of the population appears to be more sensitive to cholesterol in food. For these people, eating cholesterol-rich foods can increase blood cholesterol (12 Trusted Source).
Another common concern about eating the liver is that it contains toxins. Most people tend to believe that toxins in the liver might prove to be harmful to their body, but its job is to process toxins and make them either safe for the body or turn them into something that can be safely removed from the body.
Therefore, one must not worry about the toxins in the liver, and anyone can have a liver fearlessly.
Who should not include liver in their diet:
The liver is certainly not for everyone and there are certain groups of people who should avoid eating liver. Here is the list below:
1. Pregnant Women
The liver is rich in Vitamin A and might become harmful if taken frequently by pregnant women. High intakes of preformed vitamin A, the type found in the liver, can cause birth defects or abnormalities in the embryo. Yet, the exact risk is unclear, and more research is needed (13 Trusted Source).
Nevertheless, it only takes 1 ounce (30 grams) of beef liver to reach the tolerable upper intake level for vitamin A during pregnancy. This is a very small amount, so quantities must be monitored (14 Trusted Source).
Although it may be safe to eat a small amount of liver occasionally during pregnancy, one needs to be extremely cautious about such intake.
2. People with Gout
Gout is a type of arthritis caused by high levels of uric acid in the blood that can lead to pain, stiffness and swelling in the joints.
The liver is high in purines, which form uric acid in the body, an excess of which can damage your kidneys and may lead to renal failures. It is therefore important to limit your liver intake if you have gout.
However, if you do not suffer from gout, eating liver will not necessarily cause it. While a number of factors can increase your risk of developing gout, dietary factors only account for about 12% of cases (15 Trusted Source).
The liver is delicious food and has an extraordinarily high amount of nutrients, compared to any other meat. It is extremely healthy and beneficial for proper metabolism. So, be sure to add liver to your plate every day.
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