Understanding the benefits and risks of eating liver.
Many people look upon liver as a staple part of their diet. Cooked in a variety of ways, liver can be very versatile. Others simply cannot take to the idea of eating this particular item, and liver has always been particularly unpalatable where children are concerned. So what are the pros and cons of eating liver? Read on to find out if eating liver is really worth the benefits.
Good source of iron
Iron is critical to the absorption of oxygen through your body, through the blood cells and muscles. Iron deficiency, known as anemia, can cause problems with your heart and is often caused by pregnancy or poor diet. Liver is an excellent source of iron. According to McKinley Health Center, a 3-ounce serving of beef liver contains 7.5mg of iron, nearly the entire recommended dietary allowance. A 3.5-ounce serving of chicken liver contains 12.8 mg of iron.
Good source of vitamins
Liver can also be an excellent source of vital vitamins. Vitamin A plays an important role in maintaining a healthy immune system. According to The Office of Dietary Supplements, 3 ounces of pan-fried beef liver provides more than four times your recommended daily value, and is one of the best dietary sources of vitamin A. Liver is also a relatively good source of vitamin D, which is rare in most foods. A serving of beef liver contains 11 percent of the recommended daily value.
Cheap and versatile
Compared to cuts of muscle meat, liver is very affordable, and costs considerably less than beef steak. It is also versatile, and can be cooked in a number of different ways. Pan-fried liver can be flavored with a variety of ingredients, and you can also serve liver as a delicious pate.
Increased exposure to heavy metals
Certain chemicals, known as heavy metals, can accumulate in the liver of beef cattle. These toxins build up over the animal's lifetime, and can then be passed on to humans when the liver is eaten. The United States Department of Agriculture also warns that livers can accumulate pesticides and veterinary drugs. Choosing liver from organic, grass-fed cattle can mitigate these risks.
Increased risk of gout
Gout is a painful condition, caused when urate crystals accumulate in your joints. This causes inflammation and intense pain. These crystals can form if there is a high level of uric acid in your blood. The body produces uric acid to break down chemicals called purines, which are found in a number of sources, including organ meats like liver. If you eat too much liver, you can increase the level of purines in your blood, leading to an increased risk of gout, particularly if you are diabetic, obese or suffer from kidney disease.