Our ancestors never ate only muscle meat. With evolution, our body got adapted to eating the entire animal to bring nutritional balance. But, in the modern perspective, our food choices are limited to the grocery store meats, where we get to choose various muscle meats. According to some reports, internal organs are considered by-products and are exported for profit to other industries.
In our diets, meat has been an important staple food and has evolved over time. The definition of “meat” in the Diet Council Regulation also includes offal or organ meat.
Meat and offal include high-quality proteins, fat, vitamins, and minerals, which significantly determine its taste and dietary value. Organ meat is a valuable source of macro- and micro-nutrients with various health benefits.
In this post, we will review the health benefits of organ meats with an emphasis on all the latest research to back it up. We will also explore potential risks associated with the consumption of organ meats and cautions that need to be followed.
Organ meats are animal organs that can be consumed as food. Also known as offal these organ meats include animal organs like liver, kidneys, brain, tripe, thymus, pancreas, etc. Though organ meats are high-quality food packed with nutrients, they are not consumed routinely.
In traditional foods, hunters ate organ meat to gain maximum nutrient retention and energy. According to studies, minerals content, such as iron, zinc, magnesium, and calcium, are present abundantly in veal and beef liver than in muscular tissue. Organ meats are great sources of essential nutrients.
Nutrient-dense organ meat is a rich source of vitamin B12, which plays an important role in digestion. It helps to fuel up your body cells. As a result, organ meat improves your energy.
Also, according to studies, the risk of vitamin B12 deficiency is seen in people consuming a diet low in animal products. The consequences of low vitamin B12 status have different health outcomes for pregnant women, infants, and the elderly population.
Beef liver, veal, lamb, heart, and kidneys are abundant in B vitamins. These food sources can help you acquire adequate levels of riboflavin. Vitamin B2 or riboflavin helps your body to produce energy by breaking down carbs, proteins, and fats.
Organ meat is an excellent source of vitamin B1 or thiamine. Along with vitamin B12, thiamine plays an essential role in regulating the metabolic reactions necessary for energy production. Low levels of these nutrients may cause fatigue, loss of appetite, constipation, anxiety, and depression.
Organ meats are one of the best sources of choline. It is an essential nutrient that plays a vital role in neurotransmitter synthesis and metabolism. Research studies indicate that a higher intake of choline is associated with better cognitive performance.
As mentioned above, with high vitamin B content, organ meats are believed to preserve brain health and improve cognition. Also, B vitamins help to reduce the risk of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, and anxiety.
Altogether we can say organ meats are filled with nutrients that help to maintain brain health and enhance your cognitive functions.
Retinol, an active form of vitamin A is found in animal food sources like the liver. Vitamin A is well known for maintaining the integrity and function of your skin. It contributes to your healthy skin by promoting cell growth and turnover. Vitamin A also has anti-acne benefits, supports the vision, and healthy immune function.
With an active form of vitamin A, organ meats can definitely help your skin glow. According to studies, vitamin A helps even your skin tone, smoothen the wrinkles, and in the long term, it also reduces the effects of aging on your skin.
Organ meat is a high protein diet that reduces your appetite by making you feel fuller. It promotes weight loss by improving body composition and regulating the glycemic response of your body.
A research study has revealed that replacing carbohydrates with meat, poultry, and dairy proteins has beneficial metabolic effects causing weight loss.
Organ meat is a nutrient-dense food that meets all your nutritional requirements making you crave less for food. When you reduce the intake of calorie-filled junk food, you tend to shed down excess weight.
High-quality protein is essential for building muscle mass. With aging, we experience reduced muscle mass and strength. Research studies suggest that protein intake, especially from animal sources, brings better preservation of muscle mass index.
Few studies have indicated that animal protein plays a vital role in building muscle mass. The study also says that a vegetarian diet is linked to lower muscle mass index.
The high-quality protein present in organ meat provides amino acids to synthesize essential amino acids that include branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), valine, leucine, and isoleucine. BCAAs help to build muscles and achieve faster recovery post-workout, reduced muscle soreness, and muscle wasting.
Iron deficiency anemia is the most commonly faced health problem, irrespective of age, and region. Organ meats contain the most bioavailable form of iron that is heme iron, which is readily absorbed by your body. It contributes to red blood cell production, thus protects against anemia.
Organ meats are also rich sources of folic acid, chromium, copper, and zinc, which are known to support heart health and increase hemoglobin levels in the blood.
The aging process indicates impairment of mitochondrial function, reduced antioxidant effect, and an increase in oxidative stress. Selenium and Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) present in organ meats have antioxidant effects helping in longevity and wellbeing.
CoQ10 is the only lipid-soluble antioxidant generally synthesized within your body. But, with aging, the production of this enzyme decreases. Animal meats like pork, lamb, and beef are good sources of CoQ10. According to studies, CoQ10 helps with anti-inflammatory effects and gene regulation, which reduces the risk of age-related diseases.
Selenium helps repair damaged DNA and is reported to have anti-cancer properties. It also helps in the proper functioning of the immune system and cardiac functions.
Other than these, organ meats are a good source for vitamin D, omega 3 amino acids, and various other nutrients. Adding organ meats to your diet can help you meet all the nutritional requirements of your body.
Organ meat is a part of our natural diet and has no serious drawbacks. Organ meat is high in saturated fat and cholesterol. Though recent scientific studies consider saturated fat as healthy, it should be consumed in moderation.
Some people may be vulnerable to a high intake of organ meats; hence should limit their consumption.
Organ meat quality can be a concern; animals with an unhealthy environment can cause various health problems. Choose quality meat that is organic, grass-fed, and pasture-raised.
Offal is a staple food, and our modern diet is slowly eliminating it. Organ meats have high nutritional value and can meet all your dietary requirements. When eaten in moderation, organ meats are healthy and are a great addition to your daily diet.
After knowing all the health benefits of organ meat, if you are wondering how you can incorporate them into your diet, you can start with the liver. Beef liver is a great option to begin with, as it is nutritious, easy to prepare, and is visually appealing.
Organ meats not only provide you with essential nutrition but are affordable options too. Finally, we can say organ meat is a superfood with great taste, convenience, and cost-effectiveness.