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August 29, 2016
By A. Weinberg, Contributing Columnist
Whether you eat meat or not, something visibly bloody and part of
another being can sometimes cause a bit of rejection or make you feel
grossed out. For many, chicken livers fall into this category. But if you
are morally aligned with meat consumption, they are really no different
than anything else: except for their extremely high quantity of nutrients.
Yes, it turns out that chicken livers in moderation can provide a lot of
what your body craves. They are full of nutrients vital in many
mechanisms of the human system.
It would seem odd to some that the liver, an organ that is supposed to
filter out toxins, wouldn't be toxic itself. However, in that regard, it's
perfectly safe. Toxins are filtered through the liver, but they are not
stored there. They're more likely to end up in fat or the nervous
system. You should, however, be careful with how often you indulge.
While chicken liver doesn't contain much fat, it does contain a fair
amount of cholesterol. If you are a person with already high levels, you
might want to use sparingly, a few times a month at most. However, if
you have normal levels of cholesterol, eating chicken liver on a weekly
basis for enjoyment and to reap its other benefits is a great idea.
Read on to find out the advantages of including this organ meat in your
diet. And then cook up your favorite chicken liver recipe.
1. Prevent Anemia with Iron and Vitamin B12
Chicken liver contains both iron and vitamin B12, two key ingredients in
keeping anemia at bay. Iron is one of the components of hemoglobin,
which carries red blood cells throughout the body. Without iron, it is
impossible for the body to construct hemoglobin, and in turn, anemia
Healthy males need 8 milligrams of iron, and healthy females need even
more, 18 milligrams per day. Iron-deficiency anemia is quite common,
and chicken liver is an excellent source of heme (animal-based) iron.
Just one serving contains 5.12 milligrams. According to the Cleveland
Clinic Foundation, some other good sources of heme iron include
shrimp, eggs, tuna, beef, and clams.
2. Protect Your Vision and White Blood Cells with Vitamin A
Chicken livers are chock-a-block full of vitamin A. Just one ounce
contains 62% of the necessary amount per day.
So, what? Vitamin A is absolutely vital for ocular health. A deficiency of
it is a serious, widespread health problem, which is the leading cause of
preventable blindness in young children.
In addition to vision problems, a vitamin A deficiency can lead to
anemia and/or a weak resistance to infections. Consuming the right
amount supports cell development, vision, growth, and normal
In addition, including vitamin A in your diet during important
developmental periods—infancy, childhood, pregnancy, lactation—is the
way to avoid impaired tissue function, according to a 2016 report by E.
M. Wiseman at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. So, while we don't
usually think much about this particular vitamin, it has to be there in
#3. Heal Wounds, Boost the Immune System, and more, with Zinc
from Chicken Livers
Zinc is our friend, for so many different functions in the body.
Zinc is responsible for helping wounds (even little cuts) heal up more
quickly, and for keeping the immune system in working order.
In addition, it has been found vital for skin disease and renal anemia in
some cases. A chicken liver contains 1.75 milligrams of zinc. (Adult
males need 11 milligrams and adult females 8 per day).
All the roles of zinc haven't been discovered yet, but it has certainly
proved itself to be a multifaceted mineral. A 2016 report by T.
Fukushima revealed that it is common for patient with chronic kidney
disease to develop renal anemia, and that zinc supplementation helps it.
A report from the same year by T. Kawamura found that mice fed a
zinc-deficient diet developed severe irritant contact dermatitis. You
never know what reaction a lack of zinc might cause in your own body,
so it's best to find ingredients containing it, including our friend the
chicken liver, to include in your weekly recipes.
4. Maintain Your Weight with Moderate Consumption of Chicken Livers
Eating a chicken liver is great, because it's full of protein and low on
fat. One liver contains just 2.86 grams (0.9 grams saturated fat).
However, as mentioned, chicken liver also contains cholesterol. A
serving size contains approximately 248 milligrams, and according to
the American Heart Association, 300 milligrams is the maximum amount
of cholesterol anyone should consume per day.
So, while eating chicken livers can be part of a healthy low-fat diet, it
isn't something you should be munching on the daily.
Jennifer Neily, a Dallas licensed dietician recommends no more than a 2-
3 ounce serving of any kind of liver per week.
5. Help Your Liver Function Better...with liver
Poetically enough, consuming liver is not only safe for your liver; it's
actually good for it.
Chicken liver has vitamin B6, biotin, and folate, which encourage
proper cell division and help support all of your detoxification pathways.
According to Dr. Josh Axe, a Nashville-based nutritionist and
chiropractor, eating chicken liver is an effective liver cleanse and gives
both the body and liver all the nutrients needed to detoxify properly.
6. Chicken Liver Contains Choline for Brain Health
Another ingredient in chicken liver is choline, which keeps the brain
buzzing along as it should.
In a 2013 experiment conducted by Dr. Rhoda Au and colleagues at the
Boston University School of Medicine, it was revealed just how
important choline is.
1400 adults aged 36-83 completed a food survey, and then underwent
tests of memory and other cognitive abilities. The test procedures
included MRI brain imaging.
Subjects with high choline intake did better on memory tests in
comparison with those with lower intake.
Higher amounts of choline in the diet also indicated less white matter
hyperintensity (White matter hyperintensity is an indicator of blood
vessel disease in the brain.)
7. Prevent Cancer with Vitamin K
It's unbelievable how many nutrients chicken liver has, right? Yep, it's
also got this one, which, according to a report by Dr. Al Sears, a Florida-
based physician, helps destroy cancer.
In a 2016 article, he cites studies that confirm that vitamin K can kill off
leukemia, pancreatic, and ovarian cancer cells. In one article from the
Journal of Cancer Research and Clinical Oncology, they confirmed that
vitamin K programmed cancer cells to self-destruct.
So, if you want to stay healthy, chow down on some chicken liver: it
contains 12.6 micrograms of vitamin K per cup. Spinach and kale are
also good alternatives for the requisite liver-free days.
Almost all the nutrients listed above are great, except for pregnant
women. There's just one that makes it so new moms should lay off the
liver: Vitamin A. Preformed vitamin A (but not beta carotene) has been
shown to cause birth defects in some cases. Given liver's high level of
it, it's best not to test fate. Pregnant women should make sure prenatal
supplements don't contain more than 5000 international units of
preformed vitamin A.
If you have any kidney issues, you should also avoid chicken liver.
According to the National Kidney Foundation, chicken livers' high levels
of phosphorous make it dangerous. Properly working kidneys can filter
phosphorous in the blood, but diseased ones cannot.
Ergo, liver's off the list, along with many dairy products and beer. Be
gentle to your kidneys.
If you have normal levels of cholesterol and have kidneys that function
well, you should be able to have a treat of chicken liver once or twice a
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