The thought of eating liver can be hard to stomach. There’s something about the mere mention of liver which can send even those with the most liberal palates running for the hills. Perhaps it’s bad memories from childhood, or for those yet to indulge, perhaps it’s simply the fear of the unknown.
We get it. It’s not the most attractive ingredient around, the texture is unique, and granted it doesn’t taste like any other meat we’ve ever tasted.
Then again, most people don’t take issue with devouring a hearty steak and kidney pie. It’s a British classic you hear them cry! Mention the ‘L’ word though, and it’s a different story altogether.
Once a familiar sight on the nation’s plates, thanks to the ‘yuck factor’ and unsubstantiated scare mongering, liver’s popularity has taken a dramatic nose dive over the years.
It’s not toxic
So what’s everyone scared of? We all know that one of the functions of the liver is to filter and neutralize toxins and poisons from the body. So it’s no stretch to assume that the liver will retain some of these toxins.
If that’s one of the reasons that puts you off tucking in, let’s put those misconceptions aside. In truth, the liver doesn’t store toxins, instead it stores plenty of powerful nutrients which help the body to fight toxins.
In short, it’s perfectly safe to tuck in, plus it’s super healthy.
The health benefits de-liver
Sometimes referred to as the ultimate superfood, gram for gram, liver contains more nutrients than any other food. Known for being a rich source of iron, liver is bursting with plenty of other nutrients including vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, riboflavin, copper, niacin, phosphorus, zinc, chromium, folate, trace minerals and protein.
Fantastic for supporting healthy skin and eyes, boosting the immune system, maintaining metabolism, producing red blood cells and delivering the amino acids essential for optimum health; liver contains more highly concentrated vitamins and minerals than many fruits and veggies.
Popular with athletes, liver is also known to combat fatigue, though the reason for this remains unexplained. Pretty low in calories too, what’s not to love?
Lots of livers
Ranging from light cream to deep purple in colour, with a smooth, dense texture and unmistakable flavour, there are several types of liver to enjoy. Chicken, beef, lamb, pork and fish are all popular on the plates of the nation’s liver lovers.
If you can, opt for liver from organic grass fed animals, which will be hold even more nutrients than animals fed a soy diet.
Watching your waistline? Go for pork or fish which are kinder on calorie count. Save the lamb liver for special occasions, as it has the highest levels of fat and calorie content.
Possibly its’ only pitfall, all meat liver is high in cholesterol - one serving can contain nearly twice the recommended daily amount. Keep your intake below 300mg and limit liver to once or twice a week to stop blood cholesterol levels going through the roof.
How to eat it
If you’re still dubious about tucking into a slice, change the texture by blending roughly chopped liver in a food processor (the particularly squeamish – us included – should look away whilst this is happening). Once blended, spoon into ice trays and freeze. When you’re next making a stew or slow cooker dish, add a couple of cubes to the pot. You won’t notice a difference in taste or texture and will still get all of the nutritional benefits.
For the more daring, slice it up fine and enjoy in a thick, warming chilli; dice up and add to a spaghetti sauce; serve up a piping hot plate of liver and onions or ease yourself in gently with crunchy toast topped with creamy liver pâté. However you eat it, this nutrient-rich organ is worth persevering with.