Dear Mark: Does the Liver Accumulate Toxins?

Liver confuses and confounds many of us. It looks weird, gives off an odd mineral smell, and has a unique texture. We try to reconcile our horrible memories of Mom’s bone-dry renditions of the stuff with all the ethnographic literature describing how hunter-gatherers share precious slivers of the raw trembling organ immediately after a kill. We appreciate and acknowledge the superior nutrient profile of four ounces of beef liver compared to five pounds of colorful fruit even as the shrink-wrapped grass-fed lamb liver direct from the organic farm sits in the freezer untouched. And then we wonder whether it’s even safe to eat, because, you know, it’s the “filter” – the only thing standing between an onslaught of environmental toxins and our vulnerable bodies – and filters accumulate the stuff they’re meant to keep out. See colanders, coffee filters, water purifiers. Liver, then, is many a Primal eater’s Everest. Tantalizing but fraught with seeming danger. Okay, the question:


I was reading your post about organ meats. I have always heard liver was nutritionally valuable, but I hear the same thing about bread.

Maybe I am wrong, but isn’t the liver a filter? Doesn’t it filter poisons and toxins from the body?  If I eat liver, am I ingesting the poisons and toxins of the animal? Seems to me there will always be residual poisons in liver. What are your thoughts on this?


To call the liver a simple filter is incorrect. If we want to maintain the metaphor, it’s more like a chemical processing plant. The liver receives shipments, determines what they contain, and reacts accordingly. It converts protein to glucose, converts glucose to glycogen, manufactures triglycerides, among many other tasks, but its best-known responsibility is to render toxins inert and shuttle them out to be expelled – usually in the urine via the kidney. It doesn’t just hang on to toxins, as if the liver is somehow separate from the body and immune to contamination. The liver is part of the body! If your liver contains large amounts of toxins, so do you!

Okay, so we’ve established that the liver is a processing plant by design, rather than a physical filter whose express purpose is to accumulate toxins, but what about animals raised in industrial, intensive operations? The liver from a pasture-raised cow with a perpetually cud-filled maw can undoubtedly handle its relatively light toxic load; the liver from a CAFO-cow feeding on grain and exposed to environmental pollutants is surely another matter entirely. Right? Sorta, although it’s more complicated than that.

The liver can definitely accumulate heavy metals, but it is not alone in that, nor does it always particularly excel. A 2004 study (PDF) of liver, kidney, and lean meat from cattle, sheep, and chickens randomly selected from ranches in Lahore, Pakistan, found that all three tissues accumulated significant amounts of certain metals. Let’s see how the metals were distributed throughout the various cuts of beef, since that’s what most of us are eating for liver:

Beef liver contained 52 ppm arsenic, 0.42 ppm cadmium, 2.18 ppm lead, and 31.47 ppm mercury. Beef kidney contained 47 ppm arsenic, 0.9 ppm cadmium, 2.02 ppm lead, and 50.65 ppm mercury. Beef lean meat contained 46.46 ppm arsenic, 0.33 ppm cadmium, 2.19 ppm lead, and 62.39 ppm mercury. So, liver accumulated the most arsenic (but not by much), less cadmium than kidney but more than lean meat, and significantly less mercury than kidney and especially the lean meat. All three cuts contained roughly equal levels of lead.

However, another study (PDF) on cattle raised on pasture in the vicinity of metallurgical plants (and their fallout) in the Slovak Republic found that the liver did accumulate significantly higher concentrations of lead, cadmium, copper, zinc, iron, and nickel than muscle meat. What does this tell us? Don’t eat heavy metal contaminated beef, especially liver and kidney; any and all cuts of the animal will accumulate dangerous levels of heavy metals if the animal is exposed to inordinate amounts.

Another study (PDF) examined how aflatoxin, when fed to a cow, was distributed throughout the animal’s tissues, with particular emphasis on the internal organs. Researchers dosed a 160 kg calf with 52 mg aflatoxin per day for five days, then slaughtered the animal and analyzed its tissues for aflatoxin levels. Aflatoxin was found in all cuts, but it was concentrated mostly in the kidneys and, to a lesser extent, the liver. Lean muscle meat contained 12.9 ng/g aflatoxin, heart contained 16 ng/g, spleen contained 18.5 ng/g, kidney contained 145 ng/g, while the liver contained 47.1 ng/g. So, eating a 100 gram portion of liver from this calf would give you 4.6 mg aflatoxin, which is pretty high. Not enough to kill you (the LD50 for baboons is 2 mg/kg bodyweight) on the spot, but it’s probably enough to cause some problems if you make eating aflatoxin-contaminated beef liver a regular habit. Luckily, commercial cattle ranchers aren’t dosing their cattle with 52 mg aflatoxin per day, and aflatoxin doesn’t occur naturally in pasture. It’s a mold that grows on grain stored in damp, humid conditions. Corn, especially improperly-dried corn stored in tropical or sub-tropical regions, is particularly susceptible to aflatoxin.

Those are the worst-case scenarios. Either the researchers purposely dosed the test animals with massive amounts of toxins or they selected subjects from heavily-polluted areas. Most meat and liver you get comes from animals raised in comparatively cleaner (if not more humane) conditions. Not even the staunchest corn-and-candy feeding cow ranchers want their animals eating aflatoxin-contaminated corn or munching on lead-and-mercury infused feed. It would be bad for business and they monitor this type of thing.

Still, people worry. Just to be sure, let’s take a look at studies on toxin accumulation in the livers of free-living livestock, as opposed to livestock living in contrived conditions. One study, which looked at cadmium, lead, and mercury levels in the organs and meat of healthy horses, cattle, and pigs, found that heavy metal accumulation was generally higher in the liver but not enough to affect human health. Another examined lead and mercury residues in livers and kidneys of Canadian chickens, cows, and pigs; all levels were below the official Canadian tolerance of 2 ppm for lead and 0.5 ppm for mercury. Both studies are from the mid-70s, but more recent studies looking at mercury accumulation in cattle have had similar results. Livestock, even CAFO livestock, just aren’t exposed to toxic levels of heavy metals.

Liver can accumulate toxins and heavy metals, but so can every other part of the animal. If you avoid liver because of toxins, you should probably avoid the rest of the animal, too. Besides, liver isn’t an everyday type of cut. It’s high in vitamin A and copper, high enough that eating a half pound a day is excessive and counterproductive, even without any toxins getting involved. Note that an animal only has one liver, and eating large amounts of it every day is evolutionarily novel. Traditional cultures didn’t prize liver because it was easily obtainable in large amounts, you know. It was a nutrient-dense treat, so consume it accordingly – as a weekly delicacy to be savored and enjoyed. As long as you’re avoiding animals in polluted, toxic environments (and I’m not talking CAFOs here; I’m talking industrial waste and heavy metal runoff) eating contaminated food (which you should be doing anyway, even if you don’t eat liver!), liver is a safe addition to your diet. Livers from organic, pasture-raised animals are obviously going to be tastier (almost sweet, in my experience), more nutritious, and cleaner, but I think you can safely eat the occasional liver meal from conventionally raised animals, too.

How often do you eat liver? Are you worried about toxins? Did you realize the liver isn’t like a simple filter, but instead like a processing plant?

TAGS:  toxins

About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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93 thoughts on “Dear Mark: Does the Liver Accumulate Toxins?”

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  1. I don’t care for liver as “liver” at all, but I love braunschweiger, liver sausage and paté. My background (and current profession) is in biomedical research, so organ physiology is fairly familiar. Another great thing to mention about livers is how regenerative they are, capable of healing themselves after incredible physical or chemical insult.

    1. I don’t care for liver, either. But I do like braunschweiger with mustard.

    2. I think liver should be a MUST to everyone that should be eating it, that! in my frank opinion is just about everyone. Liver can be used a very valuable source of fairly easy to digest protein, a great source of Vit. A, to better allow for the function of other organs (in our body) and mainly for the conversion of T4 into T3 for proper thyroid function.
      I advocate in the consumption of only grass fed liver only, the consequences of eating conventionally raised organs from animals can be damaging in the long run for most common folk, and immediate for those with compromised health, due to exposure to chemicals and hormone alterations.
      Often people dislike also the flavor and texture, well.. i think that also has to do with the preparation

      1. “due to exposure to chemicals and hormone alterations”

        Wait, doesn’t that go against what was written in the article?

  2. I am so glad that you posted this because I have often wondered if a “filter” could possibly be as good for me as people claimed!

  3. Clear, easy to read and relevant info I cannot readily obtain elsewhere. Posts like this are the exact reason why I read MDA! Thank you!

    1. I agree, very to the point and deals with both sides of the story, not just an “Eat this because it’s good for you and not this because it’s bad.” Thumbs up.

  4. Liver and onions is something I hated growing up, but the other day I tried to make it with a grass-fed local-raised calf liver, grass-fed heavy sour cream, and bay leaves/nutmeg for seasoning, and it came out great.

    When it comes to toxins, just as it’s safest to eat ‘small’ fish down on the food chain, I heard it’s safest to eat liver of baby animals (makes sense right? It hasn’t lived very long, so hasn’t had the time to accumulate).

    The ethnic markets sell exotic cuts like liver too, but with Chinese markets I always wonder about the quality… in some cases I’d trust a big brand US supermarket over a Chinese market. But that’s another story entirely.

    1. First and foremost I’m from Canada and I used to work at a foods warehouse. We do dry goods, meat, and vegetable. The meat all comes from the same few suppliers. The Canadian government are very strict on meat. It may differ if you’re from a different country, but to avoid a Chinese supermarket to a Western supermarket is just silly.

  5. I eat grassfed liver routinely. However, I recently picked up some conventional chicken livers and made curry with them. I had an obnoxious allergic reaction, red and itchy and puffy everything.

    What about antibiotics and hormones given to the animals? Could this have been the reason for my reaction?

  6. Sometimes I’ll make the classic liver and onions in butter, but my favorite dish (which I have almost weekly) mixes in cubes of beef liver, bacon, 6 eggs and raw milk cheddar. Easy, quick and so savory. It’s tough to beat in my book.

  7. Wow that’s some sound reasoning and research as usual!

    Liver from conventionally raised cattle is really gross looking though. It’s so pale. Doesn’t make me want to eat it even if it isn’t toxic.

  8. I make the best Liver on the PLANET!
    I have converted many Liver haters..LOLOL I also only eat calf liver..obviously the younger the animal the less it can accumulate..and it’s sweet..I eat it once or twice a month and make sure its super fresh!..I look carefully and talk to the meat man…get to know your supplier and start up a friendship with them…everyone likes it when someone cares about them and meat cutters are no exception. LIVER!?..on these lips?..You Betcha!…I like chicken livers with bacon and wursts..and liver spreads with eggs and onions..and and..and..and…GROK ON>>>

    1. Well Mr Dave, care to share a secret or 2 to your liver? I like dredging mine in coconut flour & sauteing in bacon fat, but what is it you do?

  9. I hate the taste of liver. Is liverwurst an acceptable substitute? If not, what is?

  10. When I was a kid, several hundred years ago, my mother fixed liver about once a week. It was cheap, because no one wanted it, so we ate it regularly. As an adult, I rarely eat it. I love liver and always have. I just got out of the habit, I guess. But, I am definitely going to add it to my meal plan again. Thanks, Mark for bringing up some good “old” memories.

    1. I asked my butcher this and he assured me (fingers crossed) that this happens sometimes. I believe it’s just the oxidation of the high iron content. As long as it smells fine, you’re still good.

      Also I think that not having preservatives this plays a role too.

      1. I used to worry about the high iron content. For women it’s OK, but generally men don’t need any extra. So I started giving blood as often as possible. I’ve actually read that giving blood is quite beneficial for the donor. In fact, how about a post on that Mark?

  11. I don’t eat beef liver, and the only chicken liver I can currently get is from regular, factory chickens. Less than ideal. But I figure if I’m eating the chicken, I might as well eat the liver too. Any info on chicken liver?

  12. I have enjoyed liver only a few times. I ate it all but didnot prepare it correctly. I have about a half dozen lbs. or so of liver, liverwurst, tongue and ground heart ready to be enjoyed. I was never afraid of the toxin issue myself but my family is of course worrysome…

    Has anyone here enjoyed liverwurst?

  13. out of curiosity. Have there been any studies comparing the meat to fruit, vegetable, or grain grown in the same metallurgical sites?

    Also are there any resources to let us know if our pastured/grassfed animals are raised near such a site?

  14. I used to HATE liver. As a kid all I remember was the tough as leather stuff I was served. I tried it again as an adult a couple of years ago from my grassfed supplier. I cook it gently in Ghee, tallow or bacon grease (ghee is best), and while cooking shake on some chili powder and lightly with cayenne pepper. The key word here is to cook gently. Cook over low heat. Cut it open and see that it has a slight red center. Take it out of the pan and it will continue to cook briefly. I’ve found that it’s almost creaming in it’s consistency and delicious!

    So lets here some more liver recipes!

  15. I believe liver from ruminants (cows, buffalo, sheep) is healthier than those from pigs or chicken

  16. I’ve eaten liver most of my adult life a great treat for dinner or breakfast with eggs. The next day after cooking a chuck roast I save the juice and just add more onions, chop up the liver into strips simmer over low heat for an hour and then it’s dinner with lefovers for breakfast. Thanks for the info about liver I will use it the next time someone comments about it.

  17. Coincidentally enough, I’m eating liver for dinner tonight! Since last month, I’ve been fixing it for myself once a week as an iron treatment after 16 years being vegetarian. At the farmers’ market last Saturday, I picked up lamb’s liver, which I’ll be trying next week.

    The strong flavor and texture put me off at first, but I’ve learned how to cook it to my tastes. Soak in lemon juice, fry quickly in my cast iron pan, and serve with plenty of caramelized onions.

    I knew that the liver acted as a purification organ, in terms of processing materials for excretion from the body, so I wasn’t afraid to eat it. The data presented here on toxin accumulation throughout the body are very compelling and I hope will convert some people to the great nutritional benefits of liver.

  18. I have a frozen liver I’ve been grating up occasionally into ground beef. I don’t even notice it! I tried eating it “straight up” and just did not like it much. First couple bites were fine, then the gagging started.

    Same deal with heart – you’ve gotta sneak it in!

    1. I had the same experience…the first bite or two I could handle fine, but after that I had to fight to get it down. I think I must not have prepared it right.

  19. I actually enjoy the taste of liver.. You can soak it in milk before cooking which will make it taste less strong.. But I generally don’t bother, just fry it briefly in some ghee or butter, with onions and apples – typically once a week.

    I’ve been experimenting with eating a little bit of it raw whenever I cook some.

  20. I hated liver growing up. My grandmother would often make liver and onions but I just couldn’t eat it. I’d eat most other organ meats, just not liver. When I was pregnant I started taking dessicated liver capsules rather than attempt to stomach the stuff. Then when my oldest started eating solid foods I made liver pate from pastured animals. If you have kids you know, what your kids eat you eat, especially when they are first learning to eat. Well, darn if my pate wasn’t pretty darn tasty. So I tried grass fed liver and onions and it was delicious, even when my grandmother made it. All those wasted years avoiding liver when all I had to do was get better quality stuff.

  21. If people used the same filter logic, shellfish would be equally bad (which it isn’t) as all require any and all toxins/food to be filtered through.

    1. One New Year’s Eve while working in a restaurant, a coworker remarked as he was slurping down some lobster, “I love poop-eating fish, in butter”

  22. Yikes!! I come from Lahore, Pakistan and most of my relatives still live there. My dad was in the poultry farming business for two decades and owned one of the largest farms in the country.

    The results of this study are very worrying given how heavily meat based the Pakistani diet is. We love our meat and will eat it at virtually every meal. Each time my husband and I visit, we have our fill of all our favorite meat dishes. They
    are SO delicious! Perhaps it’s time to exercise
    some caution. Thanks, Mark. I will be forwarding this post to my family.

  23. Still don’t like it. Anyway, my conventional housemate hates the smell, and even the thought of liver. So I would have to cook it when she was away. And those rare times, I am going to cook shellfish, which she can’t eat.

  24. I eat a half pound of local, organic, pasture raised beef liver weekly. Love it! Pan-fried with lots of onions, and peppers! Spectacular! Liver, whether it is from CAFO or pasture animals, is always cheap and nutritious! A super-food!

  25. When I first started eating primal I craved liver like crazy. I was so nutrient starved that I gulped down an entire beef liver weekly…and they’re huge!

    After about 7 months or so the craving wore off and I started eating ‘normal’…lol. I always wondered if I did myself harm consuming that much liver (it was grassfed/finished), good to know liver is a processing plant and not a filter.

    My mother really knew how to fudge up liver good…dry and totally ‘liver flavored’. I soak mine in milk for 30 minutes and don’t add sea salt until the end, ’cause salt will dry it up. Also, my mother cooked it in Mazola Oil….yuck. I cook mine in Kerrygold Butter and it’s soft and juicey.
    I sometimes add a raw egg yolk or raw cheese into my onions and liver…very yummi 🙂

  26. get some fresh “calves” liver..nice and bright red..not dark or green or any other color…get some bacon..and a nice big Vidalia onion..dice the Bacon -If Im cooking 3-4 nice 3×7 slices I use 1/2 to a whole pound and start to fry it up..when its half done add the chopped up onion and finish the bacon..which should get that onion nice and browned up good..medium heat so as to not over cook either one.Remove from the pan and drain off most but not all of the bacon fat..then turn up the heat a bit. Add the liver slabs and sear a nice brown curb on each side. Dont walk attentive to your food!
    TURN DOWN the heat and put the bacon and onions back in..toss em around and and cook gently until the liver is slightly firm and just hot inside..It does not take long and its ok for it to be pink from edge to edge like a fine steak..Add a couple tbs. of butter and melt it in..Turn it out and eat it will be sweet and mildly creamy and not even anything like your thinking about from the past nightmares of Liver land…GO ahead..try it..this recipe is THE BOMB!

  27. I eat goat liver-kidney-heart about once a month. I enjoy the taste but limited the consumption of liver during pregnancy due to its high vitamin A content.

    1. Per a midwife and an OB seen at separate times during separate pregnancies: avoid too much beta-carotene but do eat liver at least once a week during pregnancy. The vitamin A in liver is safe, too much beta carotene is not.

  28. strange. yesterday I made liver for the first time. (it was super cheap.. well as cheap as pastured chicken meat gets).
    I loved it.
    That was until I stopped loving it. And that suits me just fine. It may be that when you hit your threshold it is time to put it aside.
    also, it seems to be tastier the less it’s cooked.
    thanks, as always the information is greatly appreciated.

  29. what about the cows u see in fields by the side of the highway. just think how much heavy metal comes out of all those exhaust pipes and will settle on the grass. any info on this?

    1. since i can’t bring myself to eat liver i reverted to taking desiccated beef liver pills. i have taken them for approx 2 months now, and i think they are a very good addition, especially if you are iron deficient. most women are, i guess.

      i’ve been primal only for about a year now, and after having been a vegetarian for 23 years the iron stores in my body were severely depleted. my MD recommended i supplement with liver pills. i looked into the subject and found some interesting articles on them.

      my MD told me that it was virtually impossible to lose any weight with iron levels lower than 30 ng/ml. when i was first tested my levels were around 7 ng/ml, i had no energy whatsoever, and so i was put on a bi-weekly iron supplementation IV drip. interestingly, my weight only started to drop recently. my levels are around 100 ng/ml now. so of course i take my liver pills 🙂

  30. Mark,

    Thanks for the reply and clearing up that liver question for me. I guess I will have to take another look at this topic. Maybe find myself some grass fed liver and then try it again. Its been about 30 years since my last meal of liver, and that had to be smothered in onions to make it palatable for me.

    Thank you.

  31. I hate to admit it… but I’m a bit scared of eating liver. I’ve never had it, and I’ve always been told how gross it was. Mom never even allowed it in the house – all my friends thought I was so lucky. LOL

    I did (accidentally) find out as a teen that I actually liked liverwurst, so I bought a little tube of it at the deli the other month. Wow! I still like it, and I love it with my fried eggs. OMG, so good.

    So I guess it’s time to try some calves liver.

  32. The first rule of liver is: Don’t cook it to death! I can recall coming home and knowing via smell (all the way out in the back yard) that we were having liver for dinner. It was so tough it was hard to cut with a serrated steak knife.

    After much persuasion a friend cooked liver that was same day fresh from the butcher shop (they didn’t have vacuum sealed packs back then and six month old frozen liver wrapped in white paper is already starting at a disadvantage) and not overdone to the consistency of leather.

  33. I put my livers in a blender with an egg, and some seasonings,garlic, and some onion, then blend until it’s smooth. Then, I fry it, it fries up like hamburger. After that, I mix it up with roast vegetables, and serve it all in a casserole dish. Even my husband and kids can’t complain. I never liked liver, but I ate it anyways. Now….. It’s the tastiest way I’ve found so far, and it’s very tasty!!!

    GROK ON>>>>>

  35. The important thing to realize here is that liver filters everything in the blood coming from the GI tract that has been absorbed, including toxins. Liver doesn’t store toxins. Liver stores the good stuff (ADEK), glucose, etc. So if we eat liver from a good source, we are eating good stuff. I personally would never buy conventional liver, though.

  36. This post was written exactly for me. I kept reading about all the benefits of liver, but when I talked to people about it, they would always say things like, “Ewww…the liver filters all the toxins, I wouldn’t eat that, that’s gross”. This was exactly what I needed to really understand liver as a food instead of a nasty toxin filter.

  37. I grew up eating liver and onions (on crackers) and never could understand why other people hated until I tasted the way other people prepared it. I always stuck with chicken liver, and like others have said the trick is to use mild, fresh, high quality liver and not to cook it until it is hard. Also, most importantly, use a cast iron skillet like my mom did! I don’t know why, that’s just what I learned from trail and error. I use a small one, but nothing else cooks it like cast iron.

    I usually use twice or more the amount of onions as liver, and saute the onions first with butter so the liver doesn’t get too hard. The onions should be caramelized and the liver soft when you are done. Oh, and I finely dice the liver as well, though not too fine.

    And it’s great to add flavoring. If you use any alcohol, a tiny splash of white wine and freshly chopped lemon thyme I find work well. Other times I flavor with mushrooms and bacon.

    Grainless though, I don’t know how to replace the crunchy crackers. That’s the one thing that I think more traditional liver and onions misses, something crunchy to scoop it out of the still hot skillet with…

  38. Whoa, it’s like you were reading my mind. I was just trying to get someone to try liver and they are all worried it’s toxic. Nice timing! 🙂

  39. My doctor told me that he has a friend who works in the meat industry who told him that most livers these days are riddled with cancer. He wanted me to avoid them. I don’t though. I just eat liver from organic pasture-fed animals (lamb mostly).

  40. I love your articles! Too often I read one of your articles and realize that I’ve held onto a tidbit of conventional wisdom without realizing it!

  41. Hmm, I eat up to 0.6 lb of beef liver 4 times a week..and I’m wondering now whether it’s too much.

  42. It’s good to know about these studies indicating the presence of heavy metals in all kinds of animal fats. I was doing some research on exactly how much heavy metals accumulated in animal meat and am pleased to learn it’s not that high. Thanks for this absolutely excellent post, and putting all the research into one place.

  43. I am not too sure I buy into the whole “Eat small amounts of liver” camp. Seems like it was prized because it was nutrient dense and it was rare. So why hold back on such a treasure?

    Maybe you could elaborate a bit more on why its counter-productive to eat a half a pound of liver a day?

    I can envision a scenario where a human would eat that much: Imagine an extremely fit/intelligent/active human who ends up being an exceptionally good hunter, and is also the alpha male of the group. He would get more than his fair share of whatever he wanted. If the most prized was the liver, then he would get that, in large amounts.

    Maybe the unfit/sickly humans would get very small amounts of it.

    I’ve just recently started eating beef liver. Last night I ate a pound of beef liver in one sitting, yes a POUND. (I’ve never been one to practice caution.) Last night I slept like a baby, and today, I feel like superman. More energy than i have had in years. I’ve done this on three occasions in the past couple of weeks and have had the same results each time.

    Why I should stop?

  44. Thank you for the processing plant metephor to replace the filter one. So much better! Love being armed with better info.

  45. I’ve read your blog many times in the past, so when I was searching for info on whether the benefits of eating liver outweigh the potential downsides, I knew I could trust your perspective!!

    We ate liver last night. It had been so many years since I’d eaten it – maybe even since I was a kid. My husband loves liver and onions Mexican style – jalapenos or serranos, onions and mushrooms, even. I smother mine with cheddar chesse (okay, not 100% paleo like I should be eating, but it helps with the taste ;).

  46. Thank you for the article! This question came up last night in a conversation.

    As a person who can’t stand the taste/texture of liver, I desiccate (dry, powder and encapsulate) beef liver to take as a supplement – one I do not have to taste!
    Hadn’t thought about chicken livers. I raise chickens and would love to make use of more of their nutritious insides.

    *Question – Does calf liver have the same nutritional values as grown beef liver?

  47. Prepare our liver this way and you will actually look forward to your weekly liver night. Slice red or white onions into thin slices and fry in a skillet with bacon fat and/or butter. Add balsamic vinegar, a splash of red wine and reduce. While they are becoming transparent and soft chop about five or six dried figs into tiny cubes, and add to the onions. Fry up until it all becomes tender. Next, dredge your liver slices in almond flour ( or coconut flour, but almond is more decadent). One of the miracles of liver is that it is extremely fast cooking, you really only need a minute a side if the skillet is nice and hot. Fry the liver quickly in bacon fat or olive oil, Top with the onion fig mixture. The balsamic glaze does something to offset the liver taste that many people find objectionable, while the figs add a sweetness that complement it beautifully. Of course, the fresher and more locally raised your grassfed liver, the better it will be. Eat up!

  48. I always loved liver and onions after donating blood but now we eat veggies, grains and fish mostly. After reading this article, I will look for organic meat and start making this dish again! I guess it’s true, everything in moderation.

  49. My mother was a horrible cook. And when she tortured pig’s liver it was dry, strong and as they say one could pound nails with it. It also gave me the hives. Then decades ago I ate beef liver almost raw, just seared on both sides… now I have chicken livers every week, I fry up a pound (in the bacon fat from breakfast) and then eat about 60 grams a day until gone then fry up another batch. It’s a very easy way to get the proper amount of folate I should have daily along with selenium and various chemicals for older eyes.

  50. I actually enjoy fried liver and onions. As you discuss in your article liver definitely can be a vital component in the diet.

    I would say the biggest punch I’ve ever gotten from liver – an immediate warming & energetic feeling – was from a raw liver/carrot shake. Definitely not a delight to the palate – but an intense post-shake glow.

  51. Great text, as usual, but why none of PDFs (discussed researches in the post) are available (they all display page not found)? I would like to read them very much, as I and my child eat liver every week, from pasture raised cattle, so I am very interested to read about this as much as possible.

    1. The original post was from at least as far back as 2011, maybe further. Unfortunately the internet is an ephemeral place, what is here today may be gone tomorrow, or even merely relocated. Entire sites may be gone, or a re-organization puts the resource somewhere other than where the link points to. Sometimes, if the host site is still there, they will have a site search by which you can locate where it has moved to. In many cases it is just gone. Forever.

  52. Be careful with expression 4 significant figures to represent data.

  53. just got my 4 mercury fillings removed. they removed them the quick and cheap way. just drilled them out, and used the suction. im concerned what would happen if small peices of mercury were swallowed. i have leaky gut.

    my q is, what would the body process be if small mercury particles made way into bloodstream? would the particles just sit in my liver and never breakdown?


  54. Horrible article! My dog will only eat grass fed liver. If hae eats CAFO liver he used to throw it up. Now he refuses to touch it! He has no problem if I buy grass fed liver from a farmer I trust. He then readily eats it and does not throw up.

    There is something wrong with this report.

    I trust my dog more than this report. I will only eat liver from farmers I personally know who only have grass fed cattle.

    1. Agree, especially when eaten raw, you can clearly taste the difference between conventionally raised beef liver and naturally raised beef liver. The conventionally raised one tastes horrible in comparison.

  55. I used to HATE liver. THEN I REALIZED that I was simply not treating it or cooking it the way our DISTANT ancestors did.
    If OVER-cooked liver is hard and “mealy”. It is this mealy, shoe-leather texture that turns us off of it when we’re kids.
    Everyone I know who loves liver (and I’m not talkin’ about pate or braunschweiger or wurst) UNDER-cooks their liver, leaving the inside a dark maroon colour.
    Also, eat it when you are very hungry!!!
    I eat liver 4 or 5 times a week with occasional longer breaks.

  56. How I cook liver!
    Like Val Parma.
    I egg (yokes) my liver-then drench in italian bread crumbs…butter in cast iron pan with a little evo…quickly crisp on either side,,take out of pan..set aside…put in pan diced tomatoes with or without herbs..replace liver…pan will still be warm…put some of the canned tomatoes on top…add plenty of mozzerella cheese cover and cook ever so lightly…test with knife if liver is slightly pink …take off heat and serve…you;ll be suprised how great it tastes!

  57. I read all these articles about the pros and cons but I like skipped over how long do you boil it to make sure it’s done nobody just comes out and say 30 minutes 20 minutes I know I know him just as much now as I did before reading it

  58. When you get fresh liver, the easiest way to check the quality is to eat a small part raw. Any good quality liver should have a sweet taste. If it is bitter, it means that there some kind of toxins stored. I noticed that vaccinated animals are much more frequently tasting bitter and completely naturally raised animals are nearly always sweet and nice tasting.