Liver: nature's most potent superfood

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  1. Kelly’s avatar

    I always say “liver blows any fruit or vegetable out of the water in terms of nutrient-density” – how nice to have someone else of the same opinion. After numerous tries, my children now eat “kid pate” – made with sauteed apples, bacon, liver, all pureed along with a bit of Rapadura I hope to wean out over time, and cinnamon. They actually really like it on toast, topped with apple slices! Yay!

    - Kelly, CNC
    holistic nutritionist

  2. admin’s avatar


    Thanks for your comment – and for sharing your recipe for “kid-friendly” liver. Truth be told, I’m still experimenting with different methods of preparation myself because I’m one of those unlucky people who finds the taste of liver on its own to be somewhat objectionable.

    My wife is a different story. She gobbles it up stir-fried with a few onions without a second thought!


  3. Bruce’s avatar

    You said that red meat surpasses carrots and apples in all nutrients. Based on your data, folic acid is lower in red meat than in both carrots and apples. Vitamin B6 is lower in red meat than in apples. Thiamin in red meat is simply equal to apples. Other than that, your claims seem to be accurate.

    However, it’s not really fair to compare things on a weight basis. They also should be compared on a calorie basis. Then, the fruits and vegetables may come out ahead. Let’s see. According to NutritionData, 100g of carrots has 35-41 Calories. 100g of apples 48-51 calories. 100g of beef (15-25% fat) is 215-293 Calories. 100g of beef liver has 135 Calories.

    We must also consider how the foods are prepared and the bio-availability of nutrients. Just comparing nutrients by weight doesn’t always tell us the whole story. For example, dark chocolate may have more anti-oxidants per gram than blueberries or red wine, but on a calorie basis it might have less anti-oxidants. Likewise, a food may have more anti-oxidants, but also more pro-oxididants that cancel out the anti-oxidants.

    For example, soybean oil might be higher in Vitamin E than Macadamia Oil, or Coconut Oil, but that doesn’t mean it’s better. We must consider all the factors – nutrients per gram, nutrients per calorie, bio-availability, positive and negative effects, etc. It may be that red meat has more bio-availability than ALL plant foods, in which case it would be better to eat a carnivorous diet. Or maybe fruits and vegetables come out ahead sometimes, because they have more nutrients per calorie.

    What is your affiliation with the Weston Price Foundation? You refer to the work of Chris Masterjohn, and your first name is Chris. Coincidence, or are you the same person? It’s hard to tell from the blog.

  4. Bruce’s avatar

    I said “Vitamin B6 is lower in red meat than in apples. Thiamin in red meat is simply equal to apples.”

    That should be carrots, not apples. I read the wrong column by mistake. But my main point was still right, that red meat had less of several nutrients on the basis of weight. On a calorie basis, it will look even worse, compared to carrots and apples. And those aren’t really the most nutritient-dense foods, either. Compared to romaine lettuce or something like that, the carrots and apples might look like nutritional light-weights.

    Comparing foods by weight can be deceptive, if one food is vastly higher in calories than the other. Like comparing dark chocolate and blueberries. The chocolate may have 10 times as many calories (or more). Comparing things by calories can also be deceptive, if the amounts you would have to eat to get those calories would be unrealistic with a given food. Like comparing a hundred calories of romaine lettuce to 100 calories of butter.

  5. admin’s avatar


    Thanks for your comments. First, I am a member of the Weston A. Price Foundation but I have no professional affiliation with them whatsoever. Nor am I Chris Masterjohn, as you can see from my About page.

    I agree with you that there are other things to consider when comparing foods than a straight nutritional analysis by weight. Calories may be important for some people, but then again, they may not be. I don’t pay any attention at all to calories myself, because 1) I am not overweight and 2) I don’t believe weight management is as simple as “calories in, calories out”. This, in my opinion, is yet another mainstream myth (and I plan to address it in a future post).

    You compare red meat with apples and carrots several times in your comments. Actually, the point of this post was to compare the nutrient contents of vegetables with liver – not muscle meat. And if you look at the chart, liver is significantly higher in every single nutrient than carrots and apples by weight, and is still higher in most nutrients even if you compare the foods by calories.

    For example, you would have to eat seven times more carrots than liver to obtain the same amount of vitamin B6. And you would have to eat nearly fifteen times more carrots than liver to get the same amount of iron. Clearly it’s safe to say that liver is more “nutrient-dense” than carrots and apples by both weight and calories.

    My intention here is not to say that we shouldn’t eat apples or carrots. Far from it. I’m merely pointing out that people often have a mistaken idea that vegetables are the only foods high in vitamins and minerals. This is due to the demonization of meats and organ meats that has occurred over the last several decades in the U.S..

    The importance of eating fruits and vegetables is well-understood in the mainstream (although this advice is not followed by most people according to the statistics). However, it isn’t commonly known that organ meats (and muscle meats to a slightly lesser extent) are often much higher in almost all the nutrients we find in fruits and vegetables. I hope that posts like these will raise people’s awareness of this fact.

    I’d also like to point out that I strongly recommend eating meat and organ meats from pasture-raised animals. Not only is this better for the environment, the nutrient levels in grass-fed meats are significantly higher than those in meats that come from animals raised in confinement feedlots. Please see my recent posts Why grass-fed is best – part I and Why grass-fed is best – part II for more information.


  6. Bruce’s avatar

    I have no disagreement about the calorie myth. I think what you eat is more important than how many calories (which tends to take care of itself when a person doesn’t eat highly processed food). My point was simply that you can eat lots of vegetables without getting a lot of calories. Some people believe juicing raw vegetables is particularly healthy, but I’m not convinced that the plant toxins and anti-nutrients are safe. Liver is a good food, but most can’t stand to eat it in large amounts or frequently. It’s also possible that a highly carnivorous diet would reduce our need for nutrients.

    You say “you would have to eat seven times more carrots than liver to obtain the same amount of vitamin B6. And you would have to eat nearly fifteen times more carrots than liver to get the same amount of iron.” I’m assuming you’re talking about a calorie basis here. Maybe you don’t need much B6 (or other B Vitamins) on a pure meat diet. And maybe it’s not that good to get large amounts of iron from meat. Iron promotes free radicals, lipid peroxidation, and other problems. A high-fat diet would be low in iron, because fat displaces iron. Lean beef has significantly more iron per calorie and gram than fatty beef, for example, because it has more protein.

    To compare several foods and say that one is better does create a fallacy, because it suggests that we must choose between eating one or another when we could just as easily add fruits and vegetables, while also eating red meat and liver, perhaps getting cumulative benefits thereby. It should nonetheless be considered that maybe some people would do better on a purely carnivorous, high-fat, very-low-carb diet without any fiber. I’m by no means convinced fruits and vegetables are essential or healthy.

  7. admin’s avatar

    Hi Bruce,

    Thanks for your very thorough reply. I agree with you that eating lean meat (or any source of lean protein) without fat isn’t a good idea. In part this is due to the higher iron content per calorie, as you mentioned; the other reason is that digestion of protein requires the presence of fat-soluble vitamins (A & D), and if we eat lean protein without fat it depletes our body’s own stores of those vitamins (which are crucial to health).

    I pretty much agree with everything else you’ve said here. I just want to reiterate, however, that I’m not saying that liver is “better” than carrots or apples. As you point out, such a claim isn’t really meaningful without a context. My intention was simply to counter the popular myth that fruits and vegetables are higher in micronutrients than meats and organ meats.

    I’ve got nothing against fruits and vegetables :) – I eat them every day! Are they essential to health? Possibly, possibly not. But as you suggest, there are plenty of cultures around the world that eat almost no fruits and vegetables at all and are healthy and free of many modern degenerative diseases. The Masai tribe in Africa comes to mind. They subsist almost entirely on milk, blood and beef.

  8. Bruce’s avatar

    I’m glad you pointed out Chris Masterjohn’s PUFA Report. I’ve been talking with him about PUFAs on another list, and he has changed his position very considerably from what it was several months ago. A lot of information has been presented by Ray Peat that I find valuable, such as the health benefit of keeping PUFAs very low, the toxicity of various plants, etc. Chris makes a good point that the need for PUFAs is inflated by modern diets of processed refined sugars and toxic vegetable oils.

    I’ve read Ray Peat’s articles on fats, oils, Vitamin E, and PUFAs. He is a bit extreme about it, basing the diet on foods that are very low in PUFAs, like coconut oil, dairy, red meat, potatoes, honey, fruit, and root vegetables. I think there is a lot of truth to what he is saying, though. Here are some of his key articles, I think, which support a lot of Chris Masterjohn’s points. It is good to read them all, as they build on each other.

  9. admin’s avatar


    Sorry I didn’t reply earlier. Somehow your comment was erroneously labeled as SPAM.

    Yes, Chris’s report is excellent. I have also read all of Ray Peat’s articles and I am less convinced by some of his more extreme views. I do not believe that n-3 PUFA in small amounts is toxic as he suggests. However, in general he makes several good points and I agree with much of what he is trying to get across.


  10. Bruce’s avatar

    I tried to post this in the EFA article, but the site kept rejecting it. Said you had disabled all comments temporarily to prevent spam. I think because of having several links, the software identifies it as spam. I didn’t think it had gone through at all, because the site wouldn’t accept it.

    Peat is not against small amounts of omega-3, but he gets it in the form of shellfish and lean fish (cod, white fish, pollock, etc) eating occasionally. The point that he makes is that we should be making more Mead Acid, which is the 20:3 omega-9 PUFA our bodies make (from MUFAs, SFAs, carbs, protein, and so forth). Here’s a good article about Mead Acid.

    There are other PUFAs we can make, llike Nervonic Acid, with vital functions in the brain. These fats have not been investigated enough, because all of the attention is on dietary PUFA (omega-3 and omega-6). Mead Acid is less inflammatory than omega-3. In fact, it makes omega-3 look inflammatory by comparison. Peat believes that most of the PUFAs in our bodies should be made by our body. That way, there’s a feedback loop preventing them from building up to toxic levels. Obviously, it’s impossible to avoid omega-6 and omega-3 fats completely, but they can be kept very low (1-4% of calories), without much effort, depending on your total fat intake.

  11. admin’s avatar


    Sorry you had trouble posting the comment. I’ll look into it. I’m still pretty new to blogging, so I haven’t figured out exactly how the comments filter works.

    Thanks for the link about mead acid. I’ll definitely read it, and I’ve seen a lot of discussion of mead acid and the various other fatty acids elsewhere lately. Clearly we still have much to learn.


  12. crystal sage’s avatar

    I have just recently read an article where a fellow consumed 5 pounds of carrots daily to treat his cancer.. Would he have been better off adding some liver to his diet?

  13. Chris’s avatar

    In short – yes! There is a rather famous doctor (can’t remember his name at the moment) who uses raw liver juice and dessicated liver to treat cancer.

  14. Bruce’s avatar

    Max Gerson used to do that, but he stopped recommending the practice for some reason. I think raw liver would be better than 5 pounds of carrots. It would be difficult to consume that many carrots unless you juiced them and carrots are high in sucrose and carbs. What’s the reason for liver juice? It’s not hard to eat raw liver, just swallow without chewing. Stefansson said in one of his articles that the the Eskimos didn’t chew their meat much. A dog won’t chew their food, either. They just gulp it down.

  15. Chris’s avatar

    Thanks Bruce. It was Max Gerson I was thinking about.

    If that fellow wasn’t eating any fat along with the carrots, then he wasn’t absorbing the beta-carotene and converting it to vitamin A. I can’t see how that would be beneficial.

    Often when people improve with such strategies, I think what is actually happening is they are benefitting more from what they’ve *removed* from their diet (PUFA, flour, processed food, etc.) than what they’ve added (a whole bunch of carrots).

  16. Bruce’s avatar

    Five pounds of carrots is insane. That’s like half a gallon of juice probably. I agree with you that it’s probably food elimination that provides most of the benefits there. When you stuff yourself with one food, you eat less of other foods. It’s basically like a fast or elimination diet. That’s how those fad diets work like the grape diet, grapefruit diet, cabbage soup diet, etc.

  17. Joan’s avatar

    Raw carrots rid the body of estrogen.  Drinking carrot juice increases PUFA’s and liver is anti-thyroid.  Not that I would recommend eating five pounds a day.


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