Benefits Of Eating Liver

Benefits Of Eating Liver
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Many readers are interested in the following topic: Liver: Is It Good for You. We are happy to note, that our authors have already studied the modern research about the topic you are interested in. Based on the information provided in the latest medical digests, modern research and surveys, we provide extensive answer. Keep reading to find out more.

Liver is high in purines, which form uric acid in the body. It is therefore important to limit your intake if you have gout.

Why Liver Is a Nutrient-Dense Superfood

Not many foods are worthy of the title “superfood.” However, liver is one of them.

Once a popular and treasured food source, liver has fallen out of favor.

This is unfortunate because liver is a nutritional powerhouse. It’s rich in protein, low in calories and packed with essential vitamins and minerals.

This article takes a detailed look at liver and why you should include it in your diet.

The liver is a vital organ in humans and animals. It is typically the largest internal organ and has many important functions, including:

  • Processing digested food from the gut
  • Storing glucose, iron, vitamins and other essential nutrients
  • Filtering and clearing drugs and toxins from the blood

Liver, along with other organ meats, used to be a very popular food. However, muscle meats now tend to be favored over organ meats.

Regardless of its declining popularity, liver is possibly one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet.

People often look to fruits and vegetables for vitamins and minerals, but liver far surpasses them all in terms of nutrient content.

A small amount of liver provides well over 100% of the RDI for many essential nutrients. It is also rich in high-quality protein and low in calories (1).

Liver is cheap and readily available from grocery stores and butchers. While most animal livers can be eaten, common sources are cow, chicken, duck, lamb and pig.


Liver is possibly the most nutrient-dense food in the world. It’s packed with essential nutrients, rich in protein and low in calories.

The nutritional profile of liver is exceptional.

Here are the nutrients found in a 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of beef liver (1):

  • Vitamin B12: 3,460% of the RDI. Vitamin B12 helps the formation of red blood cells and DNA. It is also involved in healthy brain function ( 2 ).
  • Vitamin A: 860–1,100% of the RDI. Vitamin A is important for normal vision, immune function and reproduction. It also helps organs like the heart and kidneys function properly ( 3 ).
  • Riboflavin (B2): 210–260% of the RDI. Riboflavin is important for cellular development and function. It also helps turn food into energy ( 4 ).
  • Folate (B9): 65% of the RDI. Folate is an essential nutrient that plays a role in cell growth and the formation of DNA ( 5 ).
  • Iron: 80% of the RDI, or 35% for women of menstruating age. Iron is another essential nutrient that helps carry oxygen around the body. The iron in liver is heme iron, the kind most easily absorbed by the body ( 6 , 7 ).
  • Copper: 1,620% of the RDI. Copper acts like a key to activate a number of enzymes, which then help regulate energy production, iron metabolism and brain function (8).
  • Choline: Liver provides all of the Adequate Intake (AI) for women and nearly all of it for men (AI is used because there is insufficient evidence to set an RDI). Choline is important for brain development and liver function ( 9 , 10).


Liver provides more than the RDI for vitamin B12, vitamin A, riboflavin and copper. It is also rich in the essential nutrients folate, iron and choline.

Protein is vital to life and found in nearly every part of the body. It’s required to make and repair cells and turn food into energy.

Over one-quarter of beef liver is made up of protein. Moreover, it’s very high-quality protein, as it provides all of the essential amino acids.

Amino acids are the building blocks that make up proteins. Some amino acids can be made in the body, but those known as essential amino acids must come from food.

A high protein intake has been shown to help with weight loss, as it reduces hunger and appetite. Additionally, protein has been found to satisfy hunger better than fat or carbs ( 11 ).

Furthermore, a high protein intake can boost your metabolic rate, or the number of calories your body uses to function ( 12 ).

Having a higher metabolic rate means you use more calories, which can be useful for weight loss, particularly if combined with a reduced calorie intake.

Lastly, a high protein intake can help build muscle and protect against muscle loss while losing weight ( 13 , 14 , 15 ).


Liver is a great source of high-quality protein. A high protein intake has been shown to increase metabolic rate, reduce appetite, help build muscle and preserve muscle during weight loss.

Per calorie, liver is one of the most nutrient-dense foods there is.

In fact, more commonly eaten muscle meats are nutritionally poor in comparison.

A 3.5-ounce (100-gram) sirloin steak or lamb chop contains over 200 calories.

The same amount of beef liver contains just 175 calories, all while providing way more of every single vitamin and most minerals than either a sirloin steak or lamb chop (16, 17).

When reducing calorie intake, you can often miss out on vital nutrition. Therefore, it is important to choose nutrient-dense foods.

While plenty of foods contain high-quality protein or vitamins and minerals, no single food contains the same variety or amount of nutrients as liver.

What’s more, eating foods that are high in nutrients but low in calories has been shown to reduce hunger ( 18 ).

Liver is low in fat as well. Only around 25% of its calories come from fat, compared to 50–60% of calories in steak and lamb.


Per calorie, liver is one of the most nutrient-dense foods around. Compared to muscle meats, it is lower in calories and fat and far superior in terms of vitamins and minerals.

Many people have concerns about eating liver and wonder whether it’s unhealthly.

One of the most common questions is if its cholesterol content is a problem.

While liver is high in cholesterol, this isn’t an issue for most people.

People used to believe that cholesterol in food caused heart disease. However, more recent research has shown that this isn’t true for the majority of people ( 19 , 20 ).

Most heart disease-related cholesterol is actually produced in the body. And when you eat foods high in cholesterol, your body produces less to keep the balance ( 21 ).

However, around a quarter of the population appears to be more sensitive to cholesterol in food. For these people, eating cholesterol-rich foods can increase blood cholesterol ( 22 ).

Another common concern about eating liver is that it contains toxins.

However, the liver does not store toxins. Rather, its job is to process toxins and make them safe or turn them into something that can be safely removed from the body.

Experts say, toxins in liver are not an issue, and it should certainly not be avoided for this reason.


Common concerns about liver include that it’s high in cholesterol and may store toxins. However, its cholesterol content is not an issue for most people, and it does not store toxins.

There are certain groups who may want to avoid eating liver.

Pregnant Women

Concerns regarding the safety of liver intake during pregnancy are largely due to its vitamin A content.

High intakes of preformed vitamin A, the type found in liver, have been linked to birth defects. Yet, the exact risk is unclear, and more research is needed ( 23 ).

Nevertheless, it only takes 1 ounce (30 grams) of beef liver to reach the tolerable upper intake level for vitamin A during pregnancy. This is a very small amount, so quantities must be monitored ( 3 ).

Although it may be safe to eat a small amount of liver occasionally during pregnancy, it’s necessary to be cautious.

Those With Gout

Gout is a type of arthritis caused by high levels of uric acid in the blood. Symptoms include pain, stiffness and swelling in the joints.

Liver is high in purines, which form uric acid in the body. It is therefore important to limit your intake if you have gout.

However, if you don’t suffer from gout, eating liver will not necessarily cause it. While a number of factors can increase your risk of developing gout, dietary factors only account for about 12% of cases ( 24 ).


It may be best to avoid liver during pregnancy. Although liver is unlikely to cause gout, it might be sensible to avoid it if you already suffer from gout.

Liver has a unique taste, which some people love and others hate.

Here are some suggestions on how to include it in your diet:

  • Pan-fried: Liver works well when pan-fried with onions.
  • Spaghetti Bolognese: Liver can be chopped or minced and then mixed with regular ground beef. Calf or chicken livers work best.
  • Burgers: As with Bolognese, chop or mince the liver and mix it with ground beef to make seriously nutritious burgers.
  • Add plenty of seasoning: Adding lots of spices and strong flavors can help disguise its taste.
  • Use lamb or calf liver: Both have a milder flavor than beef.
  • Soak the liver in milk or lemon juice before cooking: This will reduce its strong flavor.


Whether you enjoy the taste of liver or not, there are many ways to include it in your diet.

Liver is a greatly underrated food. It’s low in calories and rich in high-quality protein, all while containing an incredible amount of vital nutrients.

Liver: Is It Good for You?

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

  • Vitamin C 1%
  • Iron 33%
  • Vitamin B6 0%
  • Magnesium 0%
  • Calcium 0%
  • Vitamin D 0%
  • Cobalamin 0%
  • Vitamin A 383%

What Is Liver?

Liver has a strong flavor and unique texture that can be polarizing. Some people love it while others hate it. The livers from many different animals are eaten around the world. You might find beef, calf, chicken, pork, lamb, goose, and cod livers in your local butcher shop, fishmonger, or grocery store.

While liver has some significant health benefits, there are also some drawbacks you should consider before adding it to your diet.

Types of Liver

Among some of the more commonly available types of liver are:

Beef liver. This intensely flavored variety is one of the most widely eaten types of liver in the U.S. It’s often used in the classic liver-and-onions dish. It comes from cows that are over a year old.

Calf liver. Also called veal liver, it comes from young cows (under 1 year old). It’s similar to beef liver and can be cooked in similar ways. But it has a more tender texture.

Pork liver. Some people find that this type of liver, which comes from pigs, has a more bitter flavor than beef liver. Pork liver is an ingredient in liverwurst in Germany and livermush in the American South. You’ll also find it in Chinese cuisine.

Lamb liver. This is the liver of a sheep less than 1 year old. It may be eaten fried along with other organ meats (especially in New Zealand and Australia) and is featured in some Indian and Lebanese dishes.

Chicken liver. Chopped liver, a traditional Jewish dish, is made from chicken livers. You’ll find deep-fried chicken livers in the Southern U.S. Their flavor is considered milder than that of beef or pork liver.

Goose liver. This type of liver is best known as an ingredient in the French dish foie gras, made from the livers of geese or ducks that have been fattened. You can also prepare it more simply by frying or pan-searing it.

Cod liver. Its claim to fame is as the main ingredient in the dietary supplement cod liver oil. You can eat it, too. Cod livers are sold canned, and many Europeans eat them spread on bread or crackers. You can cook fresh ones, too. (Even Martha Stewart has a recipe.)

Nutrition Information

All types of liver are richer in vitamins and minerals than muscle meats and many fruits and vegetables. They don’t have fiber like produce does, though.

Liver contains plenty of protein , iron, and B vitamins. It’s also one of the best animal-based sources of vitamin A. One serving of beef liver, for example, provides more than 100% of your daily vitamin A requirement. Getting enough vitamin A has been linked to a lower risk of conditions like cataracts and breast cancer.

Liver is also a good source of:

Beef liver. A 3-ounce serving of beef liver (4 ounces or 110 grams uncooked) contains:

  • Calories: 149
  • Protein: 23 grams
  • Fat: 4 grams
  • Cholesterol: 310 milligrams
  • Carbohydrates: 4 grams
  • Sugars: Less than 1 gram

Calves liver (veal liver). A 112-gram serving of calf liver (about 4 ounces uncooked) contains:

  • Calories: 130
  • Protein: 18 grams
  • Fat: 3.5 grams
  • Cholesterol: 284 milligrams
  • Carbohydrates: 6 grams
  • Sugars: 4 grams

Pork liver. A 113-gram serving of pork liver (around 4 ounces uncooked) contains:

  • Calories: 150
  • Protein: 24 grams
  • Fat: 4 grams
  • Cholesterol: 340 milligrams
  • Carbohydrates: 3 grams
  • Sugars: Less than 1 gram

Lamb liver. A 113-gram serving of lamb liver (4 ounces uncooked) contains:

  • Calories: 154
  • Protein: 23 grams
  • Fat: 5.5 grams
  • Cholesterol: 436 milligrams
  • Carbohydrates: 2.5 grams
  • Sugars: Less than 1 gram

Chicken liver. A serving of chicken livers (4 ounces uncooked) contains:

  • Calories: 130
  • Protein: 19 grams
  • Fat: 5 grams
  • Cholesterol: 484 milligrams
  • Carbohydrates: Less than 1 gram
  • Sugars: Less than 1 gram

Goose liver. One goose liver (about 3.3 ounces uncooked) contains:

  • Calories: 125
  • Protein: 15.5 grams
  • Fat: 4 grams
  • Cholesterol: 484 milligrams
  • Carbohydrates: 6 grams

Cod liver. One 2-ounce serving of canned cod liver contains:

  • Calories: 210
  • Protein: 5 grams
  • Fat: 21 grams
  • Cholesterol: 79 milligrams
  • Carbohydrates: 1 gram
  • Sugars: Less than 1 gram

Potential Health Benefits of Liver

Research has found a number of potential health benefits to eating liver:

Rich source of nutrients. Liver is one of the most nutritionally dense foods on the planet, with significant amounts of iron, riboflavin, vitamin B12, vitamin A, and copper. Eating a single serving of liver can help you meet your daily recommended amount of most of these vitamins and minerals, reducing your risk of nutrient deficiency.

Lower risk of anemia. Iron is one of the most common mineral deficiencies in the U.S. I ron deficiency can lead to certain types of anemia, resulting in fatigue, muscle weakness, and a lack of focus. Liver is an excellent source of both iron and vitamin B12, which work in combination to keep your blood cells in good working condition. In fact, one of the earliest treatments for pernicious anemia was to regularly eat beef liver. Today, adding a few servings of iron to your weekly diet can help ease or prevent anemia.

Improved bone health. Liver contains some vitamin K, which is critical to bone health. Vitamin K helps your body process calcium and add it to your bones. As a result, it helps maintain the strength of your skeletal system. Getting enough vitamin K in your diet has been linked to a reduced risk of chronic conditions such as osteoporosis . Vitamin K is also important to maintaining the health of your circulatory system.

Your daily value for vitamin K is 120 micrograms. A 3-ounce serving of beef liver has about 3 micrograms of vitamin K, and the same size serving of chicken liver has 3 micrograms.

Potential Risks of Liver

The same vitamins and minerals that make liver so nutritionally potent can create complications for people with certain medical conditions. That’s why you should check with your doctor before you start eating a lot more of it.

Here are some possible drawbacks of eating large amounts of liver:

High cholesterol. Liver is high in dietary cholesterol. While many people can eat high-cholesterol foods without a problem, people trying to lower their cholesterol or who take cholesterol medications should watch their intake. Getting too much cholesterol can increase your risk of heart disease .

Vitamin A toxicity. It’s possible, and dangerous, to get too much vitamin A. Eating large amounts of liver can lead to symptoms of vitamin A toxicity, which happens when your own liver can’t process the excess vitamin A quickly enough. Most doctors recommend that people without vitamin deficiencies eat just one serving of liver per week.

Medication interactions. Some medications are known to interact with vitamin A. Since liver is rich in vitamin A, anyone on medications such as Orlistat or certain psoriasis medications should talk to their doctor before adding liver to their diet.

Show Sources

Photo Credit: beyhanyazar / Getty Images

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BBC News: “Vitamin warning for liver lovers.”

Clinical Microbiology Reviews : “Effects of vitamin A supplementation on immune responses and correlation with clinical outcomes.”

ESHA Research Inc.

FoodData Central: “Beef liver sliced,” “Group raised calf liver slices,” “Pork liver,” “Lamb, New Zealand, imported, liver, raw,” “Chicken livers,” “Goose, liver, raw,” “Cod liver.”

National Institutes of Health: “Vitamin A,” “Vitamin K.”

Nutrients : “Vitamin A and Pregnancy: A Narrative Review.”

Cleveland Clinic: “The Pros and Cons of Eating Organ Meat.”