Organ Meat, the Superfood of Our Ancestors
Organ meat is the consumable organs of animals. These animals usually include cows, pigs, goats, and lamb. Organ meat is also referred to as offal. The term offal originates from it being called off fall because it is what would fall off and remain from the butchering process.
In today’s society in America the idea of eating organs is often shunned. It can be considered a mark of low socioeconomic status and also many people are just disgusted by the idea of eating organs. However, in many other cultures the consumption of organs is commonplace. Then if you look back at our ancient ancestors eating the organs of animals was a given because the entire animal was always used. It was even thought to have medicinal properties in the ancient chinese, greeks, african tribes, and native american societies. And they may have been right because many supplements and medications used to help treat people contain animal organs.
Organ meats are in lower demand and thus are often considerably cheaper than their traditional meat counterparts
Higher in nutrients
Many nutrients are synthesized or stored in different organs of the body and thus the organ meats of animals are typically higher in iron, B vitamins, protein, alpha-lipoic acid, minerals (zinc, selenium, and magnesium), and fat soluble vitamins (vitamin D, vitamin K, vitamin A, and vitamin E) than their traditional meat counterparts.
Lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease
The nutrient thiamine (vitamin B1) helps with the prevention of memory loss and plaque formation which are risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease. This nutrient is prevalent in liver.
Many people suffer from iron deficiency and do not even know it. Iron deficiency causes feelings of fatigue and lack of energy. By eating organ meat that is rich in iron, such as liver, spleen, or kidney, this can aid in replenishing iron levels and increasing energy levels in the process.
Reduced risk of cancer
Riboflavin deficiency has been shown to be linked to esophageal cancer and riboflavin has also been shown to reduce the risk of developing lung and colorectal cancer. Riboflavin (vitamin B2) is a nutrient prevalent in liver and kidney.
Reduced risk of heart disease
High homocysteine is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Homocystiene is reduced by having adequate levels of vitamin B12 and folate (vitamin B9). These vitamins are found in high amounts in organ meats.
Boosted immune system
Zinc is an essential mineral for proper immune function. People with zinc deficiency are shown to be more susceptible to infection and illness. Organ meats such as liver, kidney, and heart are rich in zinc.
Joint function support
Compounds such as glucosamine and collagen support the production of joint cartilage to help maintain the joints. These nutrients have been shown to help reduce joint pain and inflammation. Bone marrow is rich in these nutrients.
Good source of protein, B vitamins, selenium, phosphorus, and zinc. Heart is also a rich source of CoQ10 which is an antioxidant that is important for heart health and cell growth.
Good source of omega-3 fatty acid (DHA), sphingomyelin, phosphatidylserine, and brain-derived neurotrophic factor 1 which have been shown to support mood and cognition. Most commonly it is cow brain that is consumed.
Good source of vitamin A, vitamin K, B vitamins, phosphorus, copper, selenium, choline, and heme iron. Heme iron is the type of iron that is most readily absorbed.
Good source of protein, omega 3 fatty acids, selenium, B vitamins, and diamine oxidase (DAO). DAO is a nutrient that reduces the effects of histamines. Kidney is also known to have anti-inflammatory and immune boosting properties.
Good source of heme iron, B vitamins, vitamin C, selenium, protein, and unsaturated fats. This is one of the few organs that contains a substantial amount of vitamin C which is an antioxidant and aids the immune system.
Good source of B vitamins, heme iron, protein, calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin C.
Bone marrow, the sponge tissue in the center of bones, is a good source of collagen and conjugated linoleic acid. Bone marrow in our food system commonly comes from cows, lamb, caribou, and moose. Bone marrow has effects of promoting skin and joint health.
Good source of protein, good fats, vitamin D, vitamin E, taurine, iodine, and selenium. Animal skins commonly eaten include cow, chicken, pig, and fish. In Jamaica cow skin soup is renowned as a hangover cure.
Intestines and tripe (stomach lining)
Good source of protein, monounsaturated fats, zinc, vitamin B12, niacin, and manganese. Manganese is a powerful antioxidant.
Sweetbreads (pancreas and thymus)
Pancreas- good source of digestive enzymes, antioxidants, omega 3 fatty acids, unsaturated fats, vitamin K, vitamin B12, and copper.
Thymus- has similar benefits as spleen.
Good source of B vitamins and zinc.
Good source of lung-specific building blocks, peptides, and enzymes. Historically, animal lung tissue has been used to aid those with lung conditions such as asthma, chronic cough, bronchitis, pneumonia, colds, and dust or fume inhalation.
Common Organ Meat Foods Consumed in America
- Hotdogs and sausages (casing is often made from animal intestines)
- Pork rinds (crispy, chip like snack made from pig skin)
- Bone broth (broth made from boiling animal bones that is a common base for soup)
- Bone marrow (a creamy spread that is rich, slightly sweet, and smooth textured commonly used on toast)
Worldly Organ Dishes
A Scottish dish using the lung, liver, and heart of lamb or sheep with spices, onions, and suet (fat from around the animal’s kidney) cooked in the animal’s stomach.
British dish using pork belly, liver, lung, heart, and caul fat(connective tissue and fat from around the animal’s organs).
A southern soul dish composed of fried pig intestines served with apple cider vinegar and hot sauce.
A Portuguese dish that has been popularized in Brazil and India that contains pig tongue, lungs, liver, and heart that is fried in lard with spices and then simmered in blood until there is a thick sauce.
A Mexican soup containing tripe, hominy (dried corn treated with alkali), chili, garlic, and spices that is stewed for hours.
A Kosher Jewish dish made by sauteing liver and onions and then grinding it with salt, pepper, and a hard boiled egg. This is often eaten on matzah or rye bread.
A Western Norwegian dish, traditionally eaten before Christmas, made from sheep’s head.
A British dish made from the brain of cow, pig, or sheep.
A German dish containing a sausage filled with cooked or dried blood and filler.
Potential Risks of Organ Meat
Organ meats contain high levels of purine which is linked to the progression of joint damage for those with gout. Therefore those suffering from gout should avoid organ meat consumption.
Those who have hemochromatosis should avoid the consumption of organ meats rich in iron such as liver, spleen, and blood to avoid worsening their iron overload.
The quality of the organ meat is important. Many animals are force-fed and treated with harsh chemicals and growth hormones which have negatively impacted the animal’s organ health making their organ meat unappealing and unhealthy. To ensure high quality organ meat consider the following. Does the meat come from a geographic region free from pollution? Is it pasture raised, grass-fed, and grass-finished? Is it hormon, pesticide, and GMO free? Has it been defatted? (organs have greater health benefits when they have not been defatted)
Mad cow disease
In Britain in 1996 mad cow disease had gotten into the food supply. The cow’s brain, which was eaten as head cheese, was infected with mad cow disease and caused physiological effects such as anxiety, depression, and difficulty walking.
Where to Buy Organ Meat
- Local butcher
- Farmer’s market
- Butcher Box
- Online ranchers
White oak pasture, grassland beef:U.S. wellness meat, primal pastures, TruBeef: regeneratively farmed, frankies free range meat, seven sons, blackwing quality meats.