Throughout human history we’ve eaten organ meats but in recent years they’ve been eaten less and less. Although our ancestors didn’t know it scientifically, organ meats have lots of nutritional benefits.
Below we list the nutritional benefits of some widely available organ meats and also signpost to some tasty recipes for you to try during Organuary. With that in mind, we just wanted to mention that although we signpost to websites, we’re not responsible for the content on those websites.
If you have any specific dietary requirements then you will need to adjust some of the recipes to become more suitable for your way of eating. For example, if you’re following a gluten-free or low-carb diet then you should remove the bread, flour or potato from the recipes that contain them. And if you’re avoiding industrial seed oils then you’ll want to replace them with natural fats such as beef dripping, butter or lard.
Although not strictly an organ meat, bone marrow is still generally considered offal. Bone marrow contains protein, vitamin B12, riboflavin, collagen and conjugated linoleic acid. This can support joint function, decrease inflammation and promote skin health.
Heart is rich in CoQ10, which is 10 times more potent than vitamin E, making CoQ10 one of the most potent antioxidants available. CoQ10 also helps you synthesise usable cellular energy. Heart is also high in selenium, iron, and zinc. And since the heart is a muscle, it tastes more like steak than other organ meats do. Chicken hearts are probably the mildest option.
- Beef Heart Stew from Healthy Recipes Blog.
- Easy Beef Heart Steak from The Nourished Caveman.
- Bacon Stuffed Lamb Hearts from Great British Chef.
- Offaly Good Chicken Heart Yakitori from Jess Pryles.
- Grilled Deer Heart With Peppers from Honest Food.
Kidney contains many of the nutrients that liver does, as well as high amounts of selenium — an antioxidant mineral required for immune health and sex hormone production. Selenium is also important for kidney function. In other words, eating kidney is good for your kidneys.
- Calf Kidney In Cream from KetoKookin’.
- Spicy Devilled Lamb’s Kidneys from The Harcombe Diet Club.
- Lambs’ Kidneys In Red Wine from Delia Smith.
- Devilled Lambs Kidneys With Mushrooms from The Low Carb Diabetic.
Beef liver is the best source of vitamins and minerals. Chicken, lamb and pork liver are good as well but a portion (approximately 100g or 4 ounces) of beef liver can give you almost a week’s worth of preformed vitamin A (immune health) and B12 (cellular energy production.
Liver also has lots of zinc for hormone production, choline for cognitive health, folate for DNA repair, iron for red blood cell production and copper for increasing iron absorption in the gut.
With the high amounts of vitamin A in mind, we recommend not to exceed 150g of beef or lamb’s liver per week. Chicken liver has slightly less vitamin A and so we recommend not to exceed 230g per week. If you’re pregnant you should avoid liver altogether.
- Minced Liver from Snapguide.
- Grilled Beef Liver from Keto Vale.
- Crispy Spiced Chicken Livers from Well Fed.
- Sliced Liver & Onions from The Harcombe Diet Club.
- Chicken Liver Mousse from Real Everything.
- Peri Peri Chicken Livers from Real Meal Revolution.
- Liver & Bacon Meatballs from The Nourished Caveman.
- Pan Seared Liver With Smoked Bacon from Keto Diet App.
- Chicken Liver In Mushroom Sauce With Broccoli Mash from DietDoctor.
- Andy’s Easy Liver Pate from The Harcombe Diet Club. (TOP TIP: If you’re trying to encourage children to eat organ meats, you can sprinkle this into meals that they already enjoy. Such as a bolognese based meals.)
Stomach (tripe) isn’t packed with nutrients like liver, but it still contains a decent dose of selenium. Plus, like most entrails, stomach is very high in collagen protein. Collagen is rich in rare amino acids (glycine and proline) that support skin health, hair health, wound healing, and stable blood sugar.
- Simple Tomato Tripe from SBS.
- Tripe Alla Romana from Finedining Lovers.
- Cheeky Abruzzo Style Tripe from Vincenzo’s Plate.
- Dominican Style Tripe Stew from Smart Little Cookie.
- Spicy Mexican Tripe Soup (Menudo) from The Spruce Eats.
Sweetbread refers to the thymus or gullet (esophagus), of an animal. Typically sweetbread is calf, lamb, cow, or pig gullet. Sweetbread contains B12 and selenium, but it’s not quite as much a nutrition powerhouse like liver.
- Grilled Sweetbread from Epicurious.
- Spicy Sauteed Sweetbread from Serious Eats.
- Roasted Sweetbread With Sauteed Vegetables from All My Chefs.
Oxtails, pig tails and bison tails are not internal organs, but they’re still considered offal. They’re gelatinous cuts that are rich in beneficial collagen protein and are perfect for stews or broths.
Tongue has a similar micronutrient profile to other meats — high in iron and zinc — but it’s especially high in fat. The high fat content not only makes tongue tender, but also a great option for healthy high-fat diets.
- Slow Cooker Beef Tongue from All Recipes.
- Ox Tongue Goulash from Ramona’s Cuisine.
- Crispy Grilled Beef Tongue from Serious Eats.
- Pickled Beef Tongue from The Healthy Foodie.
- Pressed Ox Tongue Salad from Simply Beef & Lamb.
Hopefully this summary has given you an idea of how nutrient-dense organ meats are and how helpful they can be for health. If you haven’t already, be sure to take the Organuary pledge by subscribing your email by clicking here.