Modern-day meat-eaters have grown accustomed to having their meat trimmed and trussed beyond recognition, finding it easier to tuck into a goujon or nugget rather than something labelled as heart or kidney. You can understand why some people may be squeamish about eating organ meats, but once you can start to overcome that - you can unlock the amazing health benefits of including them in your diet.
What are Organ Meats?
Organ meats (also known as offal) are parts of the animal other than the muscle tissue – such as the heart, kidneys, liver, brain, tripe, pancreas and glandulars (other parts of the animal which are not technically organs).
They were a prized staple food for our ancestors for thousands of years but more recently are overlooked, mainly due to our changing perceptions and modern preference for muscle meat.
Whilst organ meats are still enjoyed in many cultures, in the UK it seems that we are missing out for sure.
Organ Meats are Incredibly Nutritious and Good for Us
Good quality meat and fish provide some of the most nutrient-dense food available for humans. Having said this, by choosing to eat mainly muscle tissue and discard things like organs, skin, glandulars and other parts of the animals, we are not only being incredibly wasteful but also missing out on some of the best animal-sourced nutrients out there.
By including more organ meats in our diet we can boost levels of vital nutrients which are hard to come across on the modern menu. What’s more, getting them in their natural, unprocessed and real food form means that they are easier to absorb and utilise in the body. In fact, organ meats provide vitamins, minerals, fats and amino acids in a highly bioavailable form that’s hard to match. Let’s take a look at some of the health-boosting nutrients you’ll find in abundance in organ meats and glandulars:
- Iron – Helps our red blood cells to transport oxygen around the body, producing energy and helping to fight off fatigue and tiredness. The iron found in organ meats is ‘haem iron’ which is better absorbed and easier utilised compared with non-haem iron found in plant-based foods.
- Protein – Organ meats contain all of the essential amino acids which make up a ‘complete’ source of protein. Think of this complete protein as the whole package – delivering amino acids in a form most recognisable by the body, so they can go on to work their magic uninhibited!
- Vitamins – Per calorie, organ meats are some of the most vitamin-dense foods available. They provide a whole spectrum of vitamins but are highest in the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K; as well as B12 and folate – with one serving of organ meats typically providing well over 100% of your daily requirement for each.
- Minerals – Organ meats are packed with essential minerals such as magnesium, zinc, selenium and iron. Unlike most plant-based foods which tend to be higher in one or two minerals but not all, organ meats are your go-to-guy for a good dose of many different nutrients all under one roof.
- Collagen – Collagen is essential for joint and bone health as well as promoting healthy skin, hair and nails. It’s found in skin and connective tissues of animals and so is usually removed before it reaches our plate! You can reap the amazing benefits of collagen by including collagen peptides, skin or bone broths in your diet.
- Choline – Needed for DNA synthesis, choline is another nutrient which is hard to come by in the modern diet. Getting enough choline is important for brain, muscle and muscle health, but most of us don’t get enough from our diet. You guessed it! You can get yours from organ meats – particularly liver which is a rich source of choline.
- Healthy Fats – Organ meats provide a rich source of essential fatty acids. They also contain a preferential ratio of Omega-3 : Omega-6 fatty acids, which has been shown to reduce inflammation and promote overall health. Good fats are a great source of natural energy and important for absorbing fat-soluble vitamins.
Aside from providing masses of essential nutrients, organ meats are also the ideal addition to any Paleo or Keto lifestyle, as they are high in protein and fat but naturally low in carbs. And, of course, because they are natural, real food that’s free from harmful fats, grains and sugar.
Other Benefits of Eating Organ Meats
- Eating Organ Meats Supports the Nose to Tail Philosophy – Eating all of the animal, from nose to tail, reduces waste and helps to make sure that we are being as sustainable as possible when it comes to eating meat. Read more about the nose to tail philosophy.
- Amazing Nutrition at a Fraction of the Price – One benefit of eating organ meats that you’ll notice instantly is just how cheap these parts of the animal are to buy. As less of us eat organ meats compared with conventional cuts, this drives down the price and means you can grab a nutritious and delicious bargain, make no mis-steak!
- Support your Local Butcher by Widening Your Meaty Horizons! – Go into any supermarket and you’ll see shelves stacked high with chicken breasts, steaks and slices of cooked meat – but rarely any organ meats. Choosing to eat more of these meaty morsels will steer you toward your local butcher’s shop – helping to support small businesses and boost your local economy – hoorah!
Let’s Get Cooking!
Now you’ve got your head around eating organ meats the next step is to take the plunge into buying and cooking with them. Here’s our advice for getting started with cooking and eating organ meats and glandulars:
- Ask Your Butcher – Don’t be afraid to be inquisitive and ask your butcher about organ meats and how to cook with them – they are the experts after all! Check out Pasture For Life Farms for some amazing British suppliers.
- Follow the Recipe – Cooking with organ meats will take some trial and error to start with, be sure to follow recipes carefully until you get into the swing of things.
- Try A New Restaurant – There are plenty of restaurants out there showcasing organ meats and promoting the Nose to Tail philosophy, keep an eye out for meaty menus in your area. Some top nose to tail restaurants are St Johns (London) and The Flank (London).
Organ meats are a nutritional powerhouse and provide a whopping dose of a whole spectrum of nutrients in every serving. Including them in your diet will not only be for the benefit of your own health but can also help to reduce waste and use the whole of the animal for the good of the planet.