Variety meats : nutrition, amazing medical use & 3 adverse effects


(Brain, heart, sweetbreads, tripe, kidney, tongue)
See also Beef, Liver, Pork, Veal.

Variety Meats Nutritional Profile :

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

How Many Nutrients in This Food

• Heart, tongue, and tripe (the muscular lining of the cow’s stomach) are muscle meats. Brains, kidneys, and sweetbreads (the thymus gland) are organ meats.

• Like other foods of animal origin, both kinds of meats are rich sources of proteins considered “complete” because they have sufficient
amounts of all the essential amino acids. Organ meats have more fat than muscle meats.

• Their fat composition varies according to the animal from which they come. Ounce for ounce, beef fat has proportionally more saturated fatty acids than pork fat, slightly less cholesterol than chicken fat, and appreciably less than lamb fat.

• Like fish, poultry, milk, and eggs, and other meat, variety meats are an excellent source of high-quality protein, with sufficient amounts of
all the essential amino acids. They are an excellent source of B vitamins, including vitamin B12, a nutrient found only in animal foods.

• Kidneys are high in natural vitamin A (retinol), the form of vitamin A also found in liver. All variety meats are high in heme iron, the form of iron most easily absorbed by your body.

You can read poultry all the nutritions, amazing medical use CLICK HERE

How To Serve Nutritious Food

• With a food rich in vitamin C. Vitamin C changes ferrous iron in foods into the more easily absorbed ferric iron.

Diets That May Restrict or Exclude This Food

• Low-cholesterol, controlled-fat diet
• Low-protein diet
• Low-sodium diet

How To Buying This Food

Look for:

Refrigerated meat that feels cold to the touch and looks and smells absolutely fresh. Frozen heart or tripe should be solid, with no give to the package and no drippings staining the outside.

• Choose some variety meats by size. The smaller the tongue, for example, the more tender it will be. The most tender kidneys come from young animals. On the other hand, all brains and sweetbreads are by nature tender, while all heart, tongue, and tripe (the most solidly muscular of the variety meats) require long simmering to make them tender.

How To Storing This Food

• Refrigerate variety meats immediately. All are highly perishable and should be used within 24 hours of purchase. Refrigeration prolongs the freshness of meat by slowing the natural multiplication of bacteria on the surface.

• Unchecked, these bacteria will digest the proteins on the surface of the meat, leaving a slimy film in their wake, and convert the meat’s sulfur-
containing amino acids (tryptophan, methionine, and cystine) into smelly chemicals called mercaptans.

• The combination of mercaptans with myoglobin, a pigment in blood that transfers oxygen hemoglobin to muscle tissues, creates the greenish pigment that makes rotten meat look so unpleasant.

• Wrap fresh meat carefully before storing to keep the drippings from spilling and con- taminating other food or the refrigerator/freezer shelves.

How To Preparing This Food


First wash the brains under cold running water and pull off the membranes. Then put the brains in a bowl of cold water and let them soak for a half hour. Change the water; let them soak for another half hour.

• Repeat the process one more time, for a total soaking time of an hour and a half. Now drain the water, put the brains in a saucepan, cover with water, add a tablespoon or two of acid (lemon juice or vinegar) to firm the brains, and cook them for 20 to 25 minutes over low heat without boiling. Drain and use as your recipe directs.


Pull off the white membrane and rinse the kidneys thoroughly under plenty of cold running water. Cut them in half, remove the inner core, and rinse once again.

• Slice them and use as your recipe directs. (Beef kidneys have a strong, distinctive flavor that can be toned down by soaking the kidneys for an hour in a solution of 1 teaspoon lemon juice to 1 cup of water before cooking.)


Cut out the blood vessels, rinse the heart thoroughly (inside and out) under cold running water, and prepare as your recipe directs.

variety meat
variety meat


Rinse the sweetbreads thoroughly under cold running water and soak in ice water for at least an hour, changing the water until it remains clear and free of blood.

• Then drain the sweetbreads and blanch them in water plus two teaspoons of acid (lemon juice or vinegar) to firm them. Drain the sweetbreads, cover them with ice water, and remove membranes and connective tissue. Then use as your recipe directs.


Scrub the tongue with a vegetable brush under cold running water. Cover it with cold water, bring the water to a boil, and cook the tongue at a simmer for 30 minutes or soak and cook as directed on the package.

• Drain the tongue, peel off the skin, cut away the gristle and small bones, and prepare as your recipe directs. Some smoked tongues require long soaking, even overnight; check the directions on the package.


Virtually all the tripe sold in markets today has been blanched and boiled until tender. All you have to do is wash it thoroughly under cold running water and use it as directed in your recipe. If you have to start from scratch with tripe, wash it in several changes of cold water, boil it for several hours until tender, then use as your recipe directs.

• When you are done, clean all utensils thoroughly with soap and hot water. Wash your cutting board, wood or plastic, with hot water, soap, and a bleach-and-water solution. For ultimate safety in preventing the transfer of microorganisms from the meats to other foods, keep one cutting board exclusively for raw meat, fish, or poultry, and a second one for every-thing else. Don’t forget to wash your hands.

You can read liver nutrition, amazing benefits & tips CLICK HERE

What Happens When You Cook This Food

• Heat changes the structure of proteins. It denatures protein molecules they break apart into smaller fragments, change shape, or clump together. All these changes force moisture out of protein tissues.

• The longer you cook variety meats, the more moisture they will lose. The meat’s pigments, also denatured by the heat, combine with oxygen and turn brown the natural color of cooked meat.

• As the meat cooks, its fats oxidize. Oxidized fats, whether formed in cooking or when the cooked meat is stored in the refrigerator, give cooked meat a characteristic warmed-over flavor the next day.

• Stewing and storing heart or kidneys under a blanket of antioxidants catsup or a gravy made of tomatoes, peppers and other vitamin C–rich vegetables reduces
the oxidation of fats and the intensity of warmed-over flavor. All variety meats must be cooked thoroughly.

How Other Kinds of Processing Affect This Food


When meat is frozen, the water inside its cells freezes into sharp ice crystals that puncture cell membranes so that water (and B vitamins) leak out of the cells when the meat is thawed.

• Frozen heart, kidneys, and tripe are drier when thawed than they would have been fresh. They may also be lower in B vitamins. Freezing may also cause freezer burn, dry spots left when moisture evaporates from the surface of the meat. Waxed freezer paper is designed specifically to hold the moisture in frozen meat.


Amazing Medical Uses and/or Benefits

As a source of heme iron.

Because the body stores excess iron in the heart, kidneys, and other organs, variety meats are an excellent source of heme iron.

Adverse Effects Associated with This Food

Increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

Like other foods from animals, variety meats are 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)

Production of uric acid.

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

• Sweetbreads and kidneys are a source of purines. Eating them 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 (treated with medication such as allopurinol, which inhibits the formation of uric acid), limiting these foods is still part of many gout treatment regimens.

Decline in kidney function.

Proteins are nitrogen compounds. When metabolized by your body, they yield ammonia that is excreted through the kidneys.

• In laboratory animals, a sustained high-protein diet increases the flow of blood through the kidneys and may accelerate the natural decline in kidney function associated with aging. To date there is no proof that this also occurs in human beings.

Variety Meat  InteractionsFood/Drug

Tetracycline antibiotics (demeclocycline [Declomycin]), doxycycline [Vibtamycin], methacycline [Rondomycin], minocycline [Minocin], oxytetracycline [Terramycin], tetracycline [Achromycin
V, Panmycin, Sumycin]).

Because meat contains iron which binds tetracyclines into compounds the body cannot absorb, it is best to avoid meat for two hours before and after taking one of these antibiotics.

Monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors.

Monoamine oxidase inhibitors are drugs used to treat depression. They inactivate naturally occurring enzymes in your body that metabolize tyramine, a substance found in many fermented or aged foods.

• Tyramine constricts blood vessels and increases blood pressure. Pickling or preserving meat may produce tyramine. If you eat a food such as pickled tongue which is high in tyramine while you are taking an MAO inhibitor, your body cannot eliminate the tyramine and the result may be a hypertensive crisis.


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