STL Locavore: A Nutritional Comparison of Organ Meats to Other Foods

As you may (or may not) know, I’m a huge supporter of nose-to-tail eating as it not only uses as much of the animal as possible, thus minimizing waste, but also some of the less-consumed meats are actually the least expensive and give you the most nutritional bang for your buck! I’m mostly talking here about eating organ meats. Now, a lot of people have serious reservations about eating organ meats — mostly because they find that they don’t taste good or they’ve never tried them and it seems strange to eat the organs of another animal. Some also have some unfounded concerns about waste products in liver, for example, or whatever. (You can read about why this is erroneous here.

What makes eating organ meats especially worthwhile is that they are AWESOME when it comes to nutrition. There are so many essential vitamins and minerals in liver and other organ meats, it’s crazy. And beautiful. Chris Kresser did a nice post about the benefits of eating liver, which you can find here. At the end of his post you can see where he compared liver, beef, carrots and apples for nutritional content and it’s pretty amazing to see. I mean, 100g (3 oz) of liver, has more Vitamin C than both apples AND carrots! By a wide margin! It’s crazy. Which got me to thinking. What about the other organ meats commonly available in the grocery? How would their nutritional content stack up to various other foods? Thus, I went to the good ol’ USDA website and compiled the following information. Let’s take a gander…

Sweet potato, raw Spinach, raw Beef liver, raw Beef Heart, raw Beef Kidney, raw Ground Beef,
Grass Fed, Raw
100 g 100 g 100 g 100 g 100 g 100 g
Calcium (mg) 30 99 5 7 13 12
Iron (mg) 0.6 2.7 4.9 4.3 4.6 2.0
Magnesium (mg) 25 79 18 21 17 19
Phosphorus (mg) 47 49 387 212 257 175
Potassium (mg) 337 558 313 287 262 289
Zinc (mg) 0.3 0.5 4.0 1.7 1.9 4.6
Vitamin C (mg) 2.4 28.1 1.3 2.0 9.4 0
Thiamin (mg) 0.1 0.1 0.2 0.2 0.4 0
Riboflavin (mg) 0.1 0.2 2.8 0.9 2.8 0.2
Niacin (mg) 0.6 0.7 13.2 7.5 8.0 4.8
Vitamin B6 (mg) 0.2 0.2 1.1 0.3 0.7 0.4
Folate (µg) 11 194 290 3.0 98 6
Vitamin B12 (µg) 0 0 59.3 8.6 27.5 2.0
Vitamin A, RAE (µg) 709 469 4968 0 419 0
Vitamin A, IU (IU) 14187 9377 16898 0 1397 0
Vitamin E (mg) 0.3 2.0 0.4 0.2 0.2 0.4
Vitamin D (D2+D3, µg) 0 0 1.2 0 1.1 1.1
Vitamin D (IU) 0 0 49 Unavailable 45 Unavailable
Vitamin K (µg) 1.8 482.9 3.1 1.4 0 5.3

So upon seeing that table, your eyes probably glazed over and your brain probably shut off, cause I mean so many numbers, right?! That’s how I felt too after I constructed it. But then I organized it a little bit and created two additional categories: “Highest Food With Specific Nutrient” and “Highest Meat with Specific Nutrient”. When you do that, it’s easy to see that, out of these meats and produce mentioned here, Spinach and Liver were the most abundant for “Highest Food With Specific Nutrient”, though Liver beat out Spinach overall (i.e. gives one the most bang for their buck!). In the “Highest Meat with Specific Nutrient”, liver again won hands down. I mean, no contest. Kidney was next, followed by the ground beef. This is interesting because, since I was able to find grass-fed ground beef, but am unsure about the quality of the other meats, it’s hard to say if grass-fed organ meats would yield even MORE nutrients. Come on, USDA! Give me more complete data! Additionally, though Spinach has high amounts of various nutrients, one must consider the bioavailability of those nutrients to the eater, with the animal meats being more bioavailable sources potentially of those nutrients.

Regardless, I believe it’s safe to say that one should make liver (and other organ meats) a regular part of one’s diet, in conjunction with dark leafy greens! I definitely tend more towards Denise Minger’s recommendations when it comes to diet (which also overlap a bit with Weston Price Foundation recommendations):

  • Elimination of refined sugar, High Fructose Corn Syrup, and other nutritionally-devoid sweeteners
  • Avoidance of man-made ingredients and fake foods (artificial sweeteners, soy-based meat replacements, chemical additives, nitrites, preservatives, artificial flavors, dyes, margarine, and hydrogenated fats)
  • Inclusion of mineral-rich foods (dark greens, seaweeds, animal organs, green juices or produce grown in well-mineralized soil)
  • No pasteurized, homogenized cow dairy
  • Emphasis on eating foods in their whole state
  • Emphasis on some or all pre-agricultural foods (fruits, veggies, meat, fish, nuts, seeds) rather than post-agricultural foods (grains, potatoes, dairy, vegetable oils)
  • Large portion of fresh, raw foods and/or “living” foods (kombucha, fermented vegetables, kefir)
  • High nutrient density

Anyway, just a few things related to nutrition! Main takeaway: Organ meats, nose-to-tail eating, and nutrient density are all important things to consider as you go about stuffing yer yob! Thanks for reading.

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