Chris D. Meletis, ND
We often hear the advice to “eat your fruits and vegetables, ”but not so much to “eat your organ meats.” At least, not until recently, when more and more functional medicine providers are starting to recognize organ meat benefits.
And just like vegetables and fruits, different organ meats contain different concentrations of nutrients. With vegetables and fruits, we’re told to “eat the rainbow” (the whole array of colors and associated nutrients) of what the garden offers. A similar basic concept applies to organ meats, which contain specific nutrients. Some people refer to organ meats as a superfood.
If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, you’ve probably guessed this article isn’t for you. But if you’re a meat eater, you might be pleased to know that organ meats have many health benefits.
Eating organ meats dates back to our hunter-gatherer ancestors. They did not always have the luxury of having a proverbial food buffet. In other words, food was often scarce. When the food came along, they consumed it entirely, and they prized many parts of the animal.
Which Organ Meats Can You Eat?
You can eat many different organs, and they all have a high nutritional value. Here are the most common types of organ meats:
• Brain – A good source of omega-3 fatty acids, beef brain is prized as a delicacy in many cultures. Brain meat is also high in phosphatidylcholine and phosphatidylserine, two nutrients good for the nervoussystem.1
• Heart – Many people find beef hearts delicious and enjoy the fact that it’s a lean part of the cow. It contains high levels of folate, iron, zinc, and selenium, as well as vitamins B2, B6, and B12. It’s also a good source of coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10).
• Kidneys – Rich in nutrients, proteins, and omega-3 fatty acids, kidney meat has properties that soothe inflammation and may be good for the heart.
• Liver – Beef liver benefits revolve around its high nutrient content. It’s sometimes called “nature’s multivitamin.” It’s rich in vitamin A, folic acid, iron, chromium, copper, vitamin B12, and zinc and can increase hemoglobin levels in the blood.
• Spleen – Beef spleen contains small proteins known as peptides. These peptides include tuftsin and splenopentin, which may promote immune system health by stimulating white blood cells known as macrophages.2
• Sweetbreads – Don’t be fooled by the name. Sweetbreads are not breads and they’re not sweet. They’re made from the thymus gland and pancreas. Beef pancreas is a rich source of vitamin B12. One portion contains over 500% of the recommended daily value.
• Tongue – A muscle more than an organ, beef tongue is high in fat and therefore very tender. Many people consider it delicious.
• Tripe – The lining of an animal stomach—mostly from cattle—tripe can have a chewy texture, but many people find the taste enjoyable.
Organ Meat Benefits
Rich in Nutrients
Depending upon the organ type and which animal they came from, organ meats contain an array of nutrients, including:
• Folic acid
• Vitamin A
• Vitamin B
• Vitamin D
• Vitamin E
• Vitamin K
Some organ meats are also a rich source of such nutrients asomega-3 fatty acids, CoQ10, phosphatidylcholine, and phosphatidylserine. Furthermore, animal protein contains all nine essential amino acids that the body requires.
Supports Muscle Mass
Organ meats are a good source of high-quality protein, which the body needs to build and retain muscle mass.3,4Therefore, they’re an excellent choice for seniors, athletes, and anyone who wants to build muscle.
Organ meats are a good source of heme iron, a highly bioavailable form of this mineral. Heme iron is better absorbed than the non-heme iron found in plants.5
Nutrients in the organ meats benefit those same organs in your body. For example, CoQ10 found in beef hearts is a powerful heart-protective nutrient. In addition, eating brain meat provides antioxidants that protect the human brain and spinal cord.
Beef Organ Supplements
Some people don’t enjoy the taste of organ meats or simply want a more convenient way to consume them. That’s why we formulated TM Ancestral, a bovine-sourced, beef organ supplement that contains liver, heart, kidney, pancreas, and spleen from grass-fed and finished cows that were pastured raised in New Zealand. The supplement is hormone, pesticide, and GMO-free and offers a convenient way to access the unique benefits of organ meats, including supporting healthy bones, joints, heart, skin, hair, energy, and immunity.
1. Are organ meats good for you? Medical News Today. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/319229#benefits-of-eating-organ-meats.Accessed 2022.
2. Najjar VA. Tuftsin, a natural activator of phagocyte cells: an overview. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1983;419:1-11.
3. Lord C, Chaput JP, Aubertin-Leheudre M, Labonté M, DionneIJ. Dietary animal protein intake: association with muscle mass index in olderwomen. J Nutr Health Aging. 2007;11(5):383-387.
4. Aubertin-Leheudre M, Adlercreutz H. Relationship between animal protein intake and muscle mass index in healthy women. Br J Nutr. 2009;102(12):1803-1810.
5. Monsen ER. Iron nutrition and absorption: dietary factors which impact iron bioavailability. J Am Diet Assoc. 1988;88(7):786-790.