Is Liver Good for You?

Liver is a very popular food in many cultures around the world. The most common livers include bovine, pork, chicken and lamb. Liver is mostly cooked in the same way as other meats. Liver can either be eaten as a main dish, either smothered in onions or plain, or combined with other meats. Some traditional recipes like India's mutton liver fry and Scotland's haggis include liver as an important component. Liverwurst and liver pate spreads are also a source of liver in your daily diet.

Is Liver Good for You?

Yes it is, if eaten in moderation. Liver is a rich source of nutrients, minerals and vitamins. Middle aged men and women can get sufficient nutrients and trace minerals from liver. These nutrients are required to maintain healthy skin and eyes, to help in production of red blood cells and boost the immune system. However, you have to eat it in moderation, because despite having so many nutritional benefits, liver is also high in cholesterol.

5 Reasons Why Liver Is Good for You

1.     Full in Vitamin A

3.5 oz of liver provides about 200% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin A. Vitamin A is vital for proper immune and thyroid function, healthy skin, growth, development, regulating genes and healthy eyesight including night vision. Most people are unable to convert beta-carotene to vitamin A and therefore require vitamin A from an animal food source.

Remember the body needs fat to synthesize vitamin A. A 3-ounce serving of veal liver has 60,000 international units (IU) of vitamin A. The same portion of beef liver, lamb liver and chicken liver provides 26,957 IU, 21,203 IU and 11,329 IU of vitamin A respectively. The Food and Nutrition Board recommends 2,333 to 3,000 IU daily.

2.     Source of Vitamin B 12

Is liver good for you? Yes since it is a good source of vitamin B12 which helps in management of disorders of the nervous system. Nervous signs and deviant behavior can occur as a result of vitamin B12 deficiency. Both healthy people and those suffering from vitamin B12 deficiency should take liver to sustain their vitamin B12 levels. As much as vitamin B12 is found in other animal meats and products, liver provides more of it.

3.     Contains Cooper to Support Metabolism

A number of enzymes have copper as a functional component. These cuproenzymes help the body metabolize iron, produce energy, keep nerves healthy and synthesize collagen. Antioxidants which protect the body from free radicals that damage cells are also made by these copper-dependent enzymes. A 3-ounce serving of beef or veal liver provides 12 milligrams of copper. The recommended daily intake is 0.9 milligrams.

4.     Packed With Other Minerals

Calf liver is particularly rich in iron. A 3-oz serving of calf liver supplies 11mg of iron which is equivalent to 61 percent of the 18mg daily recommended intake. Beef liver has less iron, providing about 5.2 mg per serving. One oz of calf liver provides more than 100 percent of the daily copper intake and around 25 percent of the selenium and zinc recommended daily. Copper, just like folate and vitamin B12, is important for iron metabolism and proper functioning of red blood cells. Selenium works with a variety of enzymes as an antioxidant. It also helps with male fertility. Zinc maintains a healthy immune system and helps with healing wounds.

5.     Low in Calories

Beef liver is one of the meat cuts with the lowest density of calories, with a serving containing only 150 calories. This is extremely low compared with most cuts of steak and other types of beef in the market. So, is liver good for you? Of course, since you can eat liver and get the benefits of eating beef without worrying about the calories you would otherwise consume in beef.

Eat in Moderation!

Despite being very good for you, liver cannot be eaten every day. Owing to its high cholesterol content, excessive consumption of liver can be harmful to your health. Liver should not be eaten more than once a week. However, people with iron deficiencies can be advised to take more liver by their doctors. Doctors also discourage pregnant women from taking liver and liver products since a high vitamin intake could harm the unborn baby. Liver also contains high levels of purines which could increase the risk for gout and kidney stones.

Tips on Cooking Liver in Good Taste

Is liver good for you? Yes, but how to prepare it to maximize its benefits and enjoy it best? Here're some tips you may find helpful: 

1.    Soak Liver in Acidic Water

No need to worry about the dense texture of liver! It can be broken down by acidic water, making it more palatable. Just place your liver in a bowl and cover with water. Squeeze in some lemon juice or a tablespoon of vinegar and soak for a couple of hours prior to cooking. Drain, pat dry and you are good to go!

2.    Avoid Overcooking

A little bit undercooked is just fine! Although lemon juice makes it a bit tender, do not overcook it. Remove it from the heat with a little pinkness left. Cut the liver into thin strips. Fry for several minutes on both sides. The hot pan will do the cooking off the fire.

3.    Be Generous with Cooking Fat

Fat has flavors that add taste to food. It’s good for you, so don’t worry! A form of animal fat like lard, bacon drippings, tallow or even unflavored coconut oil will work best for you. Use about one third to half a cup of fat for every pound of liver and flavorings combined.

4.    Add Flavor

Liver has a natural distinct flavor that some people cannot stand. Adding flavors helps tone down the liver smell. Garlic and onions will do the wonder. Chilies, bacon and herbs like sage and thyme also come a long way to reduce the smell of liver.

5.    Do Not Forget Ketchup

The strong sweet and sour flavor of ketchup definitely tames the liver flavor. You can make your own ketchup or buy one from the store. Buy organic to steer clear of high fructose corn syrup. Sugar-free barbecue sauce will also work just fine.

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