Is eating beef liver good for you? Does it count as a superfood? Is it also one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet? The answer is a resounding yes to all three questions. Beef liver is one of the single most powerful foods you can eat to optimize your health and wellness, which we’ll explore in depth in this article.
Unfortunately, many of us don’t find the taste of fresh beef liver appealing due to its strong smell and metallic aftertaste. So, if you aren’t keen on eating fresh liver, how can you reap its benefits? Hint: Beef liver supplements. We’ll share the numerous benefits of beef liver and how you can add it to your diet without putting off your appetite.
Beef Liver Nutrition: What You Need To Know
Beef liver is aptly named a superfood, thanks to its impressive nutritional profile of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. What’s more, all this goodness is packed into low-calorie organ meat, making beef liver ideal for weight loss diets — think maximum nutrition at minimum calories.
Here are three beef liver nutrition facts you should know:
It’s Chock Full of Micronutrients
A 100-gram serving of beef liver provides these key nutrients (as percent daily values based on a 2,000-calorie diet):
- Vitamin B12 (1385%)
- Vitamin B2 or riboflavin (201%)
- Vitamin B9 or folate (65%)
- Vitamin B6 (51%)
- Vitamin A (522%)
- Protein (53%)
- Copper (730%)
- Selenium (47%)
- Zinc (35%)
- Iron (34%)
- Choline (418 milligrams)
- Coenzyme Q10 or CoQ10 (3.3 milligrams)
We will go into the exact details of how these micronutrients boost your health in the next section. But as you can see here, beef liver is chock full of essential vitamins and minerals that will satisfy a significant part of your recommended daily intake (RDI).
It’s a High-Quality Source of Protein
When it comes to protein sources, beef liver contains eight out of the nine essential amino acids:
As humans, we need essential amino acids to build important proteins (like collagen) and synthesize vital hormones and chemical messengers. Given that our bodies cannot produce essential amino acids, beef liver consumption is an efficient way to give your body what it requires.
It’s Low-Calorie and Nutrient-Dense
Did you know that beef liver is also much lower in calorie count compared to muscle meats? In fact, 100 grams of beef liver only has 175 calories, while the same amount of lamb chop comes in at 235 calories.
Beef liver also contains significantly higher levels of micronutrients than other meats, making it a nutrient-dense superfood.
6 Beef Liver Benefits Based on Its Nutritional Profile
Now, let’s take an in-depth look at the various beef liver benefits.
1. Boost Your Energy Levels
When your energy levels are low, daytime sluggishness can prevent you from being your most productive self. But research shows specific nutrients in beef liver can help bring your energy levels back up:
- CoQ10: This fat-soluble compound is an energy-generating powerhouse. It helps synthesize adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is the primary source of energy in cells.
- Riboflavin: This B vitamin is needed to produce two vital coenzymes: flavin mononucleotide (FMN) and flavin adenine dinucleotide (FAD). FMN and FAD are responsible for energy production, cellular growth, and fat metabolism. Consuming enough beef liver boosts your body’s riboflavin levels to keep your energy tanks running at full speed.
- Iron: Beef liver is a potent source of heme iron (dietary iron from animal sources). The good thing is, our bodies absorb heme iron more readily than non-heme iron from plant sources. Sufficient iron intake means every cell in your body receives enough oxygen to transform food into energy.
2. Upgrade Your Fitness Performance
If you’re hitting the gym frequently, a regular dose of beef liver will go a long way in increasing your performance.
The reason being, beef liver contains substantial amounts of CoQ10. Although your body naturally produces this antioxidant to head off oxidative damage, your organic CoQ10 levels start to decline when you hit your twenties. Predictably, your biological defenses against excess free radicals nosedives. This leads to more oxidative damage within your body, which can affect your exercise performance.
Supplementary beef liver raises your body’s CoQ10 levels to dial down oxidative stress and improve muscle function. According to the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, a single dose of CoQ10 supplementation showed:
- Increased muscle CoQ10 concentration, and
- Reduced oxidative stress
Meanwhile, the same study found that 14 days of CoQ10 supplementation increased the body’s CoQ10 levels and improved time to exhaustion. Increased muscle endurance is synonymous with enhanced athletic performance to meet your fitness goals.
If you’re interested in supramaximal training (even more grueling than high-intensity interval training), then the CoQ10 in beef liver will be highly beneficial for you. A 2010 study involving 15 men showed that eight weeks of CoQ10 supplementation increased mean power and lowered fatigue during repeated supramaximal exercise.
3. Improve Your Heart Health
Another beef liver benefit is better heart health. As mentioned earlier, beef liver contains heme iron. Your body uses this readily digestible form of iron to make hemoglobin, an oxygen-carrying protein in red blood cells. The same iron is also used to synthesize another essential component of red blood cells, myoglobin, which is used to transport oxygen to your muscles. Vitamin B12 also enters the equation here to form red blood cells. In that sense, these two micronutrients — heme iron and B12 — in beef liver work together to maintain a healthy red blood cell count.
CoQ10 also plays an essential role in cardiovascular health. A 2014 study involving 420 patients with moderate to severe heart failure found that consuming 100 milligrams of CoQ10 three times a day for two years significantly improved their symptoms. Most importantly, CoQ10 supplementation reduced the likelihood of cardiovascular deaths by as much as 43% compared to the placebo group.
4. Strengthen Your Hair and Nails
Beef liver benefits also extend to your hair and nails:
- Zinc: Zinc deficiency often presents itself as hair loss. Research suggests zinc supplementation is effective in curing or improving thinning hair. In other words, regularly eating beef liver may help your hair appear fuller.
- Vitamin A: Every cell in your body needs vitamin A to grow, including your hair and nails. To boost your body’s vitamin A reserves, take advantage of the impressively high vitamin A levels in beef liver.
- Choline: Choline is paramount to both hair and nail health. One study shows that 20 weeks of choline-stabilized orthosilicic acid (ch-OSA) significantly reduced nail and hair brittleness. Another study found that oral consumption of ch-OSA improved hair elasticity, reduced breakage, and enhanced thickness in fine-haired women.
5. Support Your Brain Development
Did you know that your brain comprises only 2% of your overall body weight yet accounts for 20% of all the energy consumed, equivalent to 10 times its body weight? Indeed, your brain needs ample nutrition for optimal functioning in your day-to-day life.
That’s where the full array of minerals in beef liver comes in handy:
- Choline: Choline is one of the most important micronutrients for normal brain development and lifelong memory enhancement. You may want to periodically feature choline-rich foods, like beef liver, in your diet.
- B vitamins: This group of vitamins is especially important for overall brain health. To illustrate, vitamin B2 (riboflavin) helps create flavoproteins that metabolize essential fatty acids in the brain lipids. Meanwhile, vitamin B6 plays a vital role in synthesizing various chemical messengers, such as serotonin (a mood-stabilizing hormone) and melatonin (a sleep hormone).
- Copper: Even though copper is present in all body tissues, it’s needed at particularly high levels in the brain. Copper generates specific enzymes that regulate important neurotransmitters like dopamine and neuropeptides. Improper copper oxidation is also associated with neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. As beef liver provides a whopping 730% of copper’s DV, it’s safe to say this organ meat will more than replenish your brain’s copper content.
6. May Help You Lose Weight
To reiterate an earlier point, beef liver is nutrient-dense without piling on the calories. This is ideal for those on a calorie-restriction diet to lose weight.
More significantly, beef liver is protein-rich. This may help increase your metabolism rate through the thermic effect of food (TEF), otherwise known as diet-induced thermogenesis. Based on a 2014 study in the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism, the TEF scores for the three macronutrients are as follows:
- Protein: 15-30%
- Carbohydrates: 5-10%
- Fats: 0-3%
As you can see, protein led to the largest rise in TEF compared to carbs and fats. In other words, a protein-rich meal is more effective in boosting your metabolism rate to burn off calories. You should also know that beef liver contains selenium, a well-known mineral that regulates your body’s metabolism.
Furthermore, a high-protein diet offers the greatest satiating effect — how full you feel after a meal. The fuller you are, the less likely you will snack or eat another meal afterward. This also means you will probably have more success in curbing your appetite to help you lose weight more effectively.
How Much Beef Liver Should You Eat?
Now that you understand the exact benefits of beef liver nutrition, you're probably keen on adding it to your meals. However, that doesn’t mean you should eat beef liver every day. Remember, several of its micronutrients far exceed the RDI for humans. Instead, stick to the recommended amount of 100-250 grams of beef liver per week.
Are There Any Risks To Eating Beef Liver?
Circling back to our previous point, beef liver isn’t for daily consumption due to its significantly high amounts of vitamin A and copper. Eating too much beef liver can cause excess amounts of vitamin A to build up in your liver, increasing your risk of vitamin A toxicity. This manifests as liver damage, brain pressure, and bone pain. Similarly, overconsumption of beef liver poses a risk of copper toxicity, which could lead to organ failure and even death.
On top of that, beef liver may contain unwanted substances. According to the Journal of Food and Drug Analysis, 58% of randomly selected frozen beef liver sold in supermarkets tested positive for antibiotic residues. Moreover, 2% of these samples had aflatoxin B1, a naturally occurring carcinogen (a cancer-causing substance). Therefore, it’s important to check the origins of where your beef liver comes from.
Who Should Not Eat Beef Liver?
As much as beef liver is highly nutritious to the general population, certain groups of individuals should avoid beef liver:
- Pregnant women: The high vitamin A content in beef liver is a concern for pregnant women. Too much vitamin A is known to affect fetal development, such as malfunctions of the baby’s central nervous system and heart.
- People with gout: Beef liver is rich in purines, which are broken down into uric acid in your body. Excess uric acid in the bloodstream can lead to hyperuricemia, the precursor to gout. As such, beef liver consumption may worsen your gout symptoms.
If you have any valid health concerns, check with your primary doctor whether it’s suitable to add beef liver to your regular diet.
Addressing Misconceptions About Beef Liver
There are a few myths regarding the dangers of eating offal (the entrails and internal organs of an animal used as food) that put people off beef liver. In this section, we put these myths to rest with research-backed evidence so you won’t be deterred from partaking in this superfood.
Is Beef Liver Toxic?
One of the most common myths surrounding beef liver is that it’s too toxic for human consumption. While the liver is the primary organ for detoxification, it doesn’t mean it stores the toxins. Instead, the liver filters toxins to pass them out of the body rather than retain the harmful substances. As such, beef liver isn’t toxic by nature and is safe for human consumption.
Is Beef Liver Bad for Blood Cholesterol Levels?
Dietary cholesterol (cholesterol that comes from the food you eat) has long been believed to be the major cause of high blood cholesterol, and by extension, heart disease. But newer studies are dispelling this misconception.
For example, a systematic review and meta-analysis inspected 40 studies involving more than 300,000 individuals over 34 years. The review highlighted that although dietary cholesterol increased blood cholesterol levels, it “was not statistically significantly associated with any coronary artery disease.”
With that said, some of us — roughly 25% of the general population — are “more sensitive to dietary cholesterol.” In which case, beef liver being cholesterol-rich organ meat, may not be suitable for these people.
Is Beef Liver Bad for Your Heart?
Due to the negative (and misguided) connotation of beef liver and high cholesterol levels, many people automatically assume beef liver is bad for the heart. But, as we’ve previously explained, one of beef liver’s benefits is to promote heart health.
To recap, this organ meat has heme iron and vitamin B12 to maintain a healthy red blood cell count. Studies also show that CoQ10 (present in beef liver) can help improve symptoms of heart failure and lower the risk of cardiovascular death. As long as you consume beef liver in moderation, you’d likely reap its heart-healthy benefits.
How To Incorporate Beef Liver Into Your Diet the Easy Way
At this point, you’re probably wondering how to incorporate beef liver into your diet when you:
- Don’t find fresh liver appealing
- Have no time to buy, prepare, and cook fresh liver
The solution is simple: try beef liver supplements.
High-quality beef liver capsules provide your body with all the nutrients found in fresh liver, minus the unappealing taste. You also don’t have to feel squeamish when handling the blood-soaked raw organ during the cooking process.
How To Choose High-Quality Beef Liver Supplements
Choosing high-quality beef liver supplements need not be a hard chore. Here’s what to look out for:
Just like buying steaks, you want beef liver supplements extracted from grass-fed cows for the highest-grade quality. Research shows “grass-based diets can significantly improve the fatty acid (FA) composition and antioxidant content of beef” compared to grain-fed ones.
Most importantly, 100% grass-fed beef liver supplements typically exclude:
- Genetically modified organisms (GMOs)
On top of that, healthy, grass-fed cows are usually free of BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy), commonly referred to as mad cow disease.
Raw Liver Content
To ensure that the beef liver supplement you’ve chosen is potent enough to meet your health needs, check the amount of raw liver each capsule contains. For example, a Zen Principle Beef Liver Capsule has roughly 1/4 ounce of fresh liver. Consuming four capsules a day will give you about an ounce of fresh liver.
Vacuum-Dried or Freeze-Dried
As you may have heard, most vitamins and minerals are sensitive to heat. Fresh beef liver that’s dried at lower temperatures tends to retain most, if not all, of the vital nutrients that make it a superfood. That’s why top-grade beef liver supplements are usually vacuum-dried or freeze-dried to maintain the potency of these micronutrients.
Desiccated and Non-Defatted
Desiccated beef liver supplements simply mean fresh beef liver is dried into a powdered form. This helps preserve all of the nutrients. In fact, a desiccated liver is four times as nutritious as a whole liver by weight!
The term “non-defatted” may appear on the product label of liver supplements. For the uninitiated, this means the beef liver used in the supplement has retained its nutrient-rich fat layer, which typically consists of the fat-soluble vitamins A and K. Choosing non-defatted supplements would mean you receive the full benefits of beef liver as you would eating fresh liver.
As with any dietary supplement, it’s important to check if your beef liver supplement has been verified by independent third parties. For your peace of mind, look out for:
- GMP certification: This means the product is manufactured in a facility that follows the Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) set out by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In which case, you’re guaranteed consistent quality, freshness, and safety throughout the production process.
- Certificate of Analysis (COA): The COA is a confirmation by independent labs that the product you purchased meets the quality standards set out by the manufacturer. It’s a good way of ensuring you’re getting what you paid for.
Try Zen Principle Beef Liver Capsules Today
After reading about the benefits of beef liver nutrition and how to choose high-quality supplements, you’re probably interested in adding a beef liver supplement to your diet. If that’s the case, look no further than Zen Principle Beef Liver Capsules.
Our beef liver supplement is extracted from healthy, grass-fed cows born and raised on the nutritious pastures of Argentina. Each bottle is stringently produced and tested in a GMP-certified facility in the U.S. and shipped quickly for maximum freshness. Every capsule contains desiccated, non-defatted, and vacuum-dried fresh beef liver for a rich nutritional profile.
If you’d like to know more about our beef liver capsules, check out our FAQs for more details.