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LiverThe liver is one of the most consumed organ meats in both Western and Eastern diets. Beef and chicken liver are the least expensive and most commonly prepared varieties. Goose liver, commonly called foie gras, is a delicacy in most cultures because of how the goose is fattened.
Across all animals, 100 grams of liver contains an average of 133 calories, 2.5 grams of carbohydrates, 19 grams of protein, and 4.5 grams of fat. Turkey liver contains the lowest carbohydrate content but also the highest fat content. Beef and lamb offer the highest protein per serving but have an above-average calories content.
Liver contains very high amounts of water-soluble vitamins B12, folate, and riboflavin as well as fat-soluble vitamin A. Lamb liver has a slight edge over veal liver in the vitamin department. Liver is an excellent source of copper, zinc, selenium, iron, and phosphorus. With the exception of copper, lamb and goose liver offer reasonably high, but not excessive amounts of these nutrients.
Winner: Lamb Liver
KidneyIf there were a popularity contest for organs meats in the Western die, then t I'm willing to bet kidney would trail far behind liver. Don't let the function of the kidney dissuade you from eating this protein-packed nutrient powerhouse. Any reputable butcher or meat preparation specialist will ensure the animal kidney is clean and suitable for consumption.
Across all animals, 100 grams of kidney contains an average of 95 calories, 0.5 grams of carbohydrates, 16.5 grams of protein, and 3 grams of fat. Kidneys are significantly lower in carbohydrates compared to liver but also contain less protein per 100 gram serving.
Pork kidney contains the lowest carbohydrate content but also the highest fat content. Sea lion kidney, slightly edges out beef with the highest protein per serving. However, beef kidney is significantly easier to find and less expensive.
Kidney contains very high amounts of water-soluble vitamins B12, riboflavin, and niacin. Pork kidney is the only variety with these three vitamins almost at or significantly over 100% of the recommended daily allowance.
Like liver, kidney is also an excellent source copper, selenium, iron, and phosphorus. All five varieties offer substantial amounts of thyroid-supporting selenium but only pork kidney provides over 50% of the recommended copper and iron daily allowance.
Winner: Pork Kidney
HeartIf you've been told you don't have a heart, then I'm sorry to report that eating the heart of another animal won't give you one. However, animal heart is an excellent source of protein, vitamins, and mineral. In many Spanish-speaking countries beef heart and chicken heart is grilled on a skewer and sold on the streets as a late-night snack after a long night at the clubs.
Across all animals, 100 grams of heart contain an overage of 126 calories, 0.5 grams of carbohydrates, 17 grams of protein, and 6 grams of fat. Heart contains as few carbohydrates as kidney but more fat than both liver and kidney.
Per calorie, animal heart offers a comparable amount of protein but substantially fewer vitamins and minerals compared to liver and kidney. Beef heart contains the most protein, fewest carbohydrates, and lowest fat content. Veal contains the fewest calories per serving but also contains less protein than beef heart.
Similar to liver and kidney, animal heart is also high in vitamin B12 and riboflavin. However, heart is also a great source of niacin, thiamin, and pantothenic acid. Turkey heart contains the most vitamin B12 and pantothenic acid, pork heart contains the most riboflavin and thiamin, and beef heart contains the highest amount of niacin.
Animal heart contains moderate amounts of selenium, iron, copper, phosphorus, and zinc. Turkey heart is the only variety to contain more than 50% of the recommended selenium intake as well as the highest phosphorus content and moderate iron content.
Winner: Turkey Heart
The Top 3 Organ Meats to EatBased on our macronutrient and micronutrient comparison above, the top 3 organ meats are:
- Lamb Liver
- Pork Kidney
- Turkey Heart
Challenge yourself to purchase at least one organ meat and prepare one dish for one day of the week. This challenge will expand your cooking acumen, increase the diversity of your diet, and nourish your body without breaking the bank.
If you enjoyed reading or have any questions regarding the micronutrient and macronutrient comparison of animal liver, kidney, and heart, then let me know in the comments below. With enough positive feedback I'll write a part two discussing the less-popular organ meats rarely if ever consumed in the Western diet.