Liver : nutrition, amazing benefits & 3 adverse effects

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Liver Nutritional Profile

• Energy value (calories per serving): Moderate
• Protein: High
• Fat: Moderate
• Saturated fat: High
• Cholesterol: High
• Carbohydrates: Low
• Fiber: None
• Sodium: Moderate
• Major vitamin contribution: Vitamin A, B vitamins
• Major mineral contribution: Iron, copper

How Many Nutrients in This Food

• Like meat, fish, poultry, milk, and eggs, liver is a good source of high-quality proteins with adequate amounts of all the essential amino acids. It is moderately high in fat and saturated fat and high in cholesterol.

• Liver is the single best natural source of retinol (“true vitamin A”). It is one of the few natural sources of vitamin D, an excellent source of B vitamins, including vitamin B12, which prevents or cures pernicious anemia, and an excellent source of heme iron, the form of iron most easily absorbed by your body.

• One four-ounce serving of simmered beef liver has 29 g protein, 5.3 g fat (1.7 g saturated fat, 0.6 g monounsaturated fat, 0.6 g polyunsaturated fat), 396 mg cholesterol, 31,714 IU vitamin A (approximately 13 times the RDA for a woman, 11 times the RDA for a man), and 6.5 mg iron (36 percent of the RDA for a woman, 81 percent of the RDA for a man).

• One four-ounce serving of simmered chicken livers has 25 g protein, 6.5 g fat (2 g saturated fat, 1.4 g monounsaturated fat, 2 g polyunsaturated fat), 563 mg cholesterol, 13,328 IU vitamin A (approximately six times the RDA for a woman, 4.5 times the RDA for a man), and 11.6 mg iron (64 percent of the RDA for a woman, 145 percent of the RDA for a man).

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How To Serve Nutritious Liver Food

• As fresh as possible. Fresh-frozen liver, if kept properly cold, maybe even fresher than “fresh” liver that has never been frozen but has been sitting for a day or two in the supermarket meat case.

Diets That May Restrict or Exclude Liver Food

• Galactose-free diet (for control of galactosemia)
• Low-calcium diet
• Low-cholesterol, controlled-fat diet
• Low-protein, low-purine diet

How To Buying This Food

Look for:

Liver that has a deep, rich color and smells absolutely fresh.

How To Storing This Food

• Fresh liver is extremely perishable. It should be stored in the refrigerator for no longer than a day or two and in the freezer, at 0°F, for no longer than three to four months.

How To Preparing This Food

• Wipe the liver with a damp cloth. If your butcher has not already done so, pull off the outer membrane, and cut out the veins.

• Sheep, pork, and older beef liver are strongly flavored; to make them more palatable, soak these livers for several hours in cold milk, cold water, or a marinade, then discard the soaking liquid when you are ready to cook the liver.

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What Happens When You Cook Liver Food

• When liver is heated it loses water and shrinks. Its pigments, which combine with oxygen, are denatured by the heat, breaking into smaller fragments that turn brown, the natural color of cooked meat.

• Since liver has virtually no collagen (the connective tissue that stays chewy unless you cook it for a long time), it should be cooked as quickly as possible to keep it from drying out.


Medical Uses and/or Benefits Of Liver

As a source of iron.

The liver is an excellent source of heme iron, the organic form of iron in meat that is absorbed approximately five times more easily than nonheme iron, the inorganic iron in plants.

Adverse Effects Associated with Liver Food

Increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

Like other foods from animals, liver is a significant source of cholesterol and saturated fats, which increase the amount of cholesterol circulating in your blood and raise your risk of heart disease.

• To reduce the risk of heart disease, the National Cholesterol Education Project recommends following the Step I and Step II diets.

• The Step I diet provides no more than 30 percent of total daily calories from fat, no more than 10 percent of total daily calories from saturated fat, and no more than 300 mg of cholesterol per day. It is designed for healthy people whose cholesterol is in the range of 200–239 mg/dL.

• The Step II diet provides 25–35 percent of total calories from fat, less than 7 percent of total calories from saturated fat, up to 10 percent of total calories from polyunsaturated fat, up to 20 percent of total calories from monounsaturated fat, and less than 300 mg cholesterol per day. This stricter regimen is designed for people who have one or more of the
following conditions:

~ Existing cardiovascular disease

~ High levels of low-density lipoproteins (LDLs, or “bad” cholesterol) or low levels of high-density lipoproteins (HDLs, or “good” cholesterol)

~ Obesity

~ Type 1 diabetes (insulin-dependent diabetes, or diabetes mellitus)

~ Metabolic syndrome, a.k.a. insulin resistance syndrome, a cluster of risk factors that includes type 2 diabetes (non-insulin-dependent diabetes)

Vitamin A poisoning.

Vitamin A is stored in the liver, so this organ is an extremely rich source of retinol, the true vitamin A. In large doses, retinol is poisonous.

• The RDA for a woman is 2,310 IU; for a man, 2,970. Doses of 50,000 IU a day over a period of weeks have
produced symptoms of vitamin A poisoning; single doses of 2,000,000–5,000,000 IU may produce acute vitamin A poisoning (drowsiness, irritability, headache, vomiting, peeling skin).

• This reaction was documented in early arctic explorers who ate large amounts of polar bear liver and in people who eat the livers of large fish (shark, halibut, cod), which may contain up to 100,000 IU vitamin A per gram.

• In infants, as little as 7.5 to 15 mg of retinol a day for 30 days has produced vomiting and bulging fontanel.

• In 1980 there was a report of chronic vitamin A intoxication in infants fed 120 grams (4 ounces) of chicken liver plus vitamin supplements containing 2000 IU vitamin A, yellow vegetable and fruits, and vitamin A-enriched milk every day for four months.

• Liver should not be eaten every day unless specifically directed by a physician.

Production of uric acid.

Purines are the natural metabolic by-products of protein metabolism in the body. They eventually break down into uric acid, which can form sharp crystals that may cause gout if they collect in your joints or kidney stones if they collect in urine.

• Liver is a source of purines; eating liver raises the concentration of purines in your body.

• Although controlling the amount of purine-producing foods in the diet may not significantly affect the course of gout, limiting foods that raise the levels of purines is still part of many gout regimens.

Liver Food/Drug Interactions

MAO inhibitors.

Monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors are drugs used as antidepressants or antihypertensives. They inhibit the enzymes that break down tyramine so that it can be eliminated from your body.

• Tyramine, which is formed when proteins deteriorate, is a pressor amine, a chemical that constricts blood vessels and raises blood pressure.

• If you eat a food rich in tyramine while you are taking an MAO inhibitor, the pressor amine cannot be eliminated from your body, and the result may be a hypertensive crisis (sustained elevated blood pressure).

• Liver, which is extremely perishable, contains enzymes that break down its proteins quickly if the liver is not properly refrigerated or if it ages. Fresh or canned pâtés made with wine may contain more tyramine than fresh liver.

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