(NaturalNews) Fruits and vegetables often take the spotlight when it comes to nutrition and health, with meat products typically being relegated to the unhealthy category. But meat from pasture-raised animals, and particularly organ meat derived from animals fed a diet of grass, water and sunshine, is one of the most nutrient-dense "superfoods" available, say proponents.
The idea of consuming organ meat may seem unappealing to some who are unfamiliar with its extensive history of use in traditional fare. But if you can overcome the gross factor and find a quality source of organ meat from animals raised humanely on pasture land, you will be doing you and your family a favor in the nutrition department.
"While it's true that fresh fruits and veggies are full of vitamins and minerals, their micronutrient content doesn't always hold up to what is found in meats and organ meats -- especially liver," explained acupuncturist and integrative medicine specialist Chris Kresser on his blog. "In general, organ meats are between 10 and 100 times higher in nutrients than corresponding muscle meats."
Liver actually stores nutrients, not toxins
Because of its role in filtering and eliminating toxins from the body, the liver is commonly misconstrued as being some kind of storage container for toxins. Some people take this common misconception to mean that consuming organ meat also means consuming toxins, which couldn't be further from the truth.
While the liver is responsible for neutralizing drugs, chemical agents, and other toxins that enter the body, these poisons do not stay in the liver. Most of the time, they end up accumulating in fatty tissue or in the nervous system. On the other hand, the liver does act as a storage mechanism for vital nutrients such as vitamins A, D, E, K, B12 and folic acid, as well as other rare nutrients like bioavailable copper and iron.
Liver contains much higher nutrient levels than apples, carrots and grass-fed meat
Not to be misconstrued as trivializing the role of fresh produce in a healthy diet, organ meat simply cannot be matched in terms of its nutrient density. While many fruits and vegetables are phytonutrient powerhouses -- that is, they often contain high levels of antioxidants like flavonoids and polyphenols -- organ meat is a micronutrient powerhouse.
In a chart posted on Kresser's blog, the nutrient profiles of apples, carrots, red meat and beef liver are compared, revealing exceptionally high levels of nutrients like phosphorus and vitamin A in beef liver. Compared to apples, beef liver contains over 18 times more folic acid, which is important for proper brain function.
Believe it or not, beef liver also has far more vitamin C than either apples or carrots, containing 27 milligrams (mg) per 100 grams (g) of liver compared to 7 mg and 6 mg, respectively, in apples and carrots. And the vitamin A content of beef liver is off the charts -- apples and carrots are completely devoid of vitamin A (though they do contain compounds that the body can convert into vitamin A), while organ meat contains an astounding 53,400 international units (IU) of it. Red meat, on the other hand, contains a mere 40 IU of vitamin A.
"Remember that it is essential to eat meat and organ meats from animals that have been raised on fresh pasture without hormones, antibiotics or commercial feed," added Kresser, noting that meat and organ meat from pasture-raised animals contain up to four times the amount of omega-3 fatty acids compared to meat from commercially raised animals.
For recipe ideas on how to incorporate organ meat into your diet, visit: WestonAPrice.org.
If you are on a strict autoimmune or Paleo diet, here's another great liver recipe: Autoimmune-Paleo.com.