Liver is a Super Food

Liver is a Super Food


Were you one of those lucky kids that grew up eating liver and onions?  Did you beg your mom or dad to cook this delicacy for you and your siblings, unable to contain your excitement when you began to smell the onions caramelizing in the pan?


I truly hope you were a liver loving kid.  But most folks I know HATED liver.  They gagged down one or two bites until their parents had mercy and let them eat the onions and dinner rolls, sparing them from the organ meat and indirectly creating a life long association that liver = bad.

Liver is a super food, right up there with broth and butter.  This traditional staple has been lost in our food culture of Chef Boyardee, Oreos and Wonder Bread.  It is certainly not hip to like liver, and over time we have been taught that not only is it not hip to like liver, it is also harmful.

liver pate in radicchio

Yet, almost every culture held a special place for liver in its cuisine – traditional peoples in Russia, the Middle East, Scandinavia, the Arctic, Japan and Europe all regularly enjoyed liver dishes.  Liver was an important food for pregnant women, young children and the elderly.  It was a sacred source of nourishment, providing immune booster Vitamin A, a full spectrum of highly absorbable B vitamins, folate, and in its raw form high levels of Vitamin C.  It was considered one of the Eight Delicacies in ancient China.

Liver’s nutrient density also supplies high quality protein, highly absorbable iron, the trace minerals zinc, selenium and copper, and CoQ10.  It is the perfect food source multi-vitamin, and yet we are scared and sickened to eat it.  Why?

Our fear of the superest food stems from the common belief that toxins are stored in the liver.  While we should always seek liver from pastured, well cared for animals, even conventionally raised liver is not an organ of storage.  It is a filter and neutralizer of toxins, but not the area where the toxins are shelved.  The liver only stores vitamins A, D, E, K, B12 and folate, and minerals such as copper and iron, while excess toxins will be stored in the adipose tissues, the nervous system or the bones.

More savvy liver haters have cited that its high Vitamin A content can create havoc in the body, such as psoriasis flare ups, dry and brittle skin and nails, loss of appetite, etc.  However, even the Mayo Clinic states that Vitamin A toxicity is rare.  And cases of birth defects were only reported after very high doses of synthetic vitamin A were taken.

So, are you sold on liver?  Maybe you still dread the taste, but rest assured that there are many easy and delicious recipes for pate’, liver and onions or liver hidden in meatballs or meatloaf.