When most people think of “superfoods” they think of leafy green vegetables, bright colored berries, matcha tea, or cacao. We, at Natural Heart Doctor, would like to propose a different angle to superfoods and bring in a new group: organ meats.
Don’t stop reading until you hear us out. Our modern-day palate, partly because of our disassociation with food, is no longer accustomed to the unique flavor of organ meats. However, these cuts of meat were sheer gold in the Paleolithic Era. Why? Because our ancestors knew these were THE MOST nutrient-dense foods available. Imagine eating a small piece of liver and getting your vitamin A for the week. It’s pretty amazing.
We define nutrient density as the number of beneficial nutrients in the food compared to the amount of calories the food contains. Healthy food has a high number of nutrients in a small amount of food and organ meats are one of the most concentrated sources of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fatty acids, and amino acids.
Top reasons to add these superfoods to your diet:
- Organ meats support cardiovascular health
Organ meat, such as heart, is one of the best sources of the antioxidant CoQ10, which is key to heart health. This antioxidant reduces blood pressure, strengthens the functioning of heart cells, improves artery health, and helps protect against heart failure. Organ meats are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids and choline, both of which are essential for cell membrane and arterial health. Furthermore, organ meats are one of the best foods for obtaining vitamin K2. Vitamin K2 is crucial to preventing arterial calcification and atherosclerosis.
- Organ meats aid in brain health.
Grass-fed organ meats are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, an essential type of fat that only the diet can supply. Organ meats are higher in EPA and DHA (the two main omega-3 fats) than other types of meat (seafood being the richest source). In fact, a recent study ranked organ meats as one of the most antidepressant foods, along with other foods like seafood. This is because organ meats are rich in brain nutrients like omega-3 fats, vitamin A, vitamin D, magnesium, and key B vitamins.
- Organ meats increase immunity.
Vitamin D is the key immunity vitamin. Often, it is hard to get bioavailable forms (bioavailable means the body can absorb and use the nutrient) of vitamin D from food alone – this is why we love sunshine. However, organ meats have one of the highest concentrations of the bioavailable form of vitamin D, called D3 or cholecalciferol. In fact, liver is one of the best sources of vitamin D3. Vitamin D supports immune function. Essentially, this nutrient regulates the body’s innate immune response by regulating the expression of immune cells, signaling pathways and the inflammatory response.
- Organ meats boost energy.
Organ meats are one of the best sources of vitamin B12, the key energy micronutrients. B12 plays a role in converting food to cellular energy. We also need vitamin B12 for heart and brain health. We can find B12 abundantly in various meat sources. Organ meats like liver and kidneys contain some of the highest amounts of B12 and will aid in energy production. Vegetarians and vegans are often at risk for a B12 deficiency because plant sources do not contain bioavailable forms of vitamin B12.
- Organ meats are part of an anti-inflammatory diet.
Organ meats help to combat cellular inflammation because of their significant concentration of omega-3 fatty acids (both EPA and DHA). Brain tissue is one of the most concentrated sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fats protect against symptoms of inflammatory disorders such as arthritis. These fats work to eradicate systemic inflammation at the cellular level, making them one of the most essential nutrients to fend off chronic disease.
- Organ meats benefit the skin.
Vitamin A, the key nutrient for skin health, is a skin antioxidant that protects against infection, promotes cellular turnover, and fights aging. We find it abundantly in organ meat tissues. In fact, organ meats contain some of the highest concentrations of vitamin A, specifically the active retinol form, found in food. There are plant sources of vitamin A, however, it is quite a tedious process for the gut to convert inactive vitamin to active vitamin A (retinol). Many individuals have leaky gut syndrome and therefore their gut mucosal barrier is not healthy enough for full conversion. Liver is the most concentrated source of retinol. Fat-soluble nutrients need fat for proper absorption, which is another benefit to consuming organ meats (which are rich in fat and the fat-soluble vitamins).
I eat a nutritious Paleo Diet. Do I still need to incorporate organ meats?
Most individuals on a Paleo diet are consuming more muscle meats and eggs. Of course, these are still great, healthy staples. However, including organ meats is an essential part of the Paleo diet.
Think about eating “nose to tail” on the Paleo diet. This is the way of our hunter-gatherer ancestors. Offal was a consistent part of the ancestral diet and should be today as well.
Upping the Paleo Diet and going Carnivore?
Organ meats are a MUST if you are trying out the Carnivore Diet. Organ meats are CRUCIAL to round out this diet with vitamins and minerals you would otherwise be missing on an organ free carnivore plate. Need more information on this diet? Check out our 3 Part Series for all things Carnivore.
Best ways to consume organ meat
We feel eating fresh organ meat is best but understand that may be a challenge for many people. Luckily, we have a variety of supplements that can support your nutritional needs. Talk with one of our health coaches for more information. The first consultation is FREE!