Organ meats (also called “offal”, or “variety meats”), are the edible organs of different animals. These organs include livers, hearts, gizzards, spleens, tripe, brains, and many others. These organ meats have numerous health benefits, so it’s no wonder many people on the keto diet eat organ meats on regular basis.
In many countries – and especially in the U.S, livestock is slaughtered for its muscle meat (cuts like beef ribeye, sirloin, ribs, etc..), and organ meats are not as widely used. In the western world, organ meat is sometimes considered to be a “second-grade” type of meat. But, in many other countries, and especially Asian ones – organ meats are very popular and many traditional dishes incorporate them.
Eating organ meats is a great way to have more variety on the keto diet, as well as to save money. Most organ meats are cheaper than muscle meat – and some of them, when prepared correctly – will taste as good, if not better – than much more expensive muscle meat cuts.
Keto & Organ Meats
While some “keto experts” claim one can only eat muscle meat on keto, and be healthy – others claim organs meat are vital. Organ meat contains lots of different minerals and vitamins. That’s why many organ meats are referred to as “superfoods”.
Some people don’t like the taste and texture of some organ meats. Sometimes that’s the case with people who didn’t eat organ meats regularly as children. But fortunately, there are many keto recipes that change the texture of organ meats like liver – and make them delicious. One of them is the beef liver minute steak recipe we posted. It became really popular quickly. So in case you are avoiding eating organ meats because of their taste or texture – try one of these recipes (more of them can be found here, on KetoAndEat).
Beef Organ Meats
Beef liver is the most “popular” organ meat. It is a very nutritious food item, high in protein, vitamins, micro-nutrients, and minerals. A very small portion of beef liver provides more than the DV (daily value) for many important and essential nutrients. It contains more vitamins than the vast majority of fruits and vegetables (which also contain anti-nutrients, which beef liver is completely free of!).
Beef liver is also a great source of Vitamin A (retinol) and many forms of Vitamin B. Because of the amounts of Vitamin A it contains, it should not be eaten in large quantities on daily basis. You can certainly “overdose” on Vitamin A.
Some, who understand the health benefits of eating beef liver – but really can’t stand its taste, choose to take beef liver supplements instead. These supplements contain freeze-dried beef liver. Keep in mind it’s always better to eat the real thing instead of taking supplements, but they are a good solution for when you are traveling and don’t have access to organ meats.
Beef brains are widely used in the cuisines of France, Italy, Spain, Mexico – and many other countries. In many places, it is considered a traditional delicacy. Many people on the keto diet, who want to increase the Omega-3 in their diet – choose to eat beef brain regularly.
DHA, an important Omega-3 fatty acid – is found concentrated in mammalian brains. According to nutrition data, 3oz (85g) of cooked beef brain contains 727mg of DHA. Is it as much as can be found in Omega-3 supplements? of course not. But did you know that most Omega-3 fish oil supplements are sold oxidized? Fish oil must be stored in refrigeration in order to avoid that. Did you ever come across these supplements, stored in the refrigerator? Vert few are the companies who do that.
One “risk” of eating beef brain is BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy) – the mad cow disease. It’s a terrible disease. But nowadays, most countries have legislation to reduce the risks of contracting this virus by consumption of beef brains. So in most cases – it’s completely safe. Check the regulations in your country regarding this topic, to be on the safe side.
Organ meats like beef kidneys are not very popular in the United States, as well as in many other countries. But if prepared correctly – they are really tender and tasty. Beef kidneys, if not trimmed – also contain beef kidney fat (Suet) which is delicious and very healthy (Suet contains stearic acid).
Beef kidneys are a great source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, various B vitamins, as well as minerals like Selenium. Beef kidneys are very cheap, tasty, and very dense in micro-nutrients. On KetoAndEat, you can find different tasty keto beef kidney recipes.
Beef Spinal Cord
Online, there are not many keto beef spinal cord recipes. This organ meat is not very popular, and that’s a shame. When prepared correctly – it’s delicious! On KetoAndEat, we posted a spinal cord recipe showing how to make keto crackers. The recipe is super easy. There is no reliable nutritional values information on beef spinal cord available online.
In most countries – beef spinal cords are mainly available frozen, and most butchers don’t really sell them. That’s because in most countries – there are regulations trying to prevent the spread of BSE (mad cow disease), which beef spinal cord can spread. In most cases, the cows are tested, and then – their spinal cord and brain are sold and of course safe to eat. So if you are buying from a reliable butcher – you don’t have much to worry about.
Beef spleen is another almost forgotten organ meat that is making a comeback in the last few years – including in the keto community. In mammals, the spleen promotes a healthy immune system. The beef spleen is rich in protein, cholesterol, iron, and many other nutrients and minerals. 3.5oz (100 grams) of beef spleen provides almost 90% of cholesterol DV. Nowadays, we understand the importance of cholesterol – and the health risks associated with not having enough of it.
Beef heart is the largest of hearts you’ll typically find at the butcher’s counter. It weighs around 2 pounds. This cut of meat is cheap and can be very tender and tasty – when prepared correctly.
The beef heart can be cut as steaks, or be stewed and slow-cooked. Some also ground it and add it to ground beef (its texture is very special – great for hamburger patties and even homemade sausages).
When buying beef hearts, make sure the butcher does not trim the fat off. Heart fat is one of the tastiest fats you will find. It’s also great for the keto diet of course. Sometimes, butchers also sell beef heart fat separately.
Beef lungs have a unique texture when cooked, which many find unappealing. In many countries – it is used for stews and many other recipes. If you eat a carnivore diet – and worry about Vitamin C – definitely eat beef lungs. 3.5oz (100g) of beef lungs provide 32.7mg of vitamin C – about 55% DV. They are also a good source of protein and a few B vitamins. One can prepare beef lungs quickly by pressure cooking them.
Beef tendons are part of the connective tissue of the cow. They are located between the animal’s bones and muscles. Beef tendons are not easy to find in many countries – including the U.S, but they are very popular in many cuisines – especially Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Thai. When preparing beef tendon in the oven, without much liquid – they become pretty stiff and almost not edible. It’s much better to cook beef tendon in water or chicken/beef stock (for a few hours, letting the collagen break down into gelatin).
Beef tendons are rich in amino acids like Glycine and Proline, which are very important for human health – especially for the skin and joints. Muscle meat also contains Glycine and Proline – but much less.
Sweetbreads are organ meat – from the thymus gland and pancreas. Veal sweetbreads are the easiest to find – although beef, pork and lamb sweetbreads are also available. When prepared correctly – their texture is very smooth and they are tender and juicy. Preparation may take a while because most recipes require soaking them first.
Beef tripe is made from the muscle wall of a cow’s stomach chambers. These include the rumen, the reticulum, and the omasum. There are many recipes with beef tripe – including soups, sausages, and stews. Most of these recipes are 100% keto friendly (and some are also 100% carnivore). In some countries – finding beef tripe is a challenge.
Also known as neat’s tongue or ox tongue. This cut of meat can be boiled, pickled, roasted, or braised. Beef tongue is perfect for keto – it is very high in fat, sometimes up to 35%. On KetoAndEat we have a few recipes showing different methods to prepare it. For example – this tongue recipe shows how it can be prepared easily in the oven. Tounge is cheap, tender, and perfect for keto!
Pork Organ Meats
Pork liver is far more nutritious than the average piece of bacon or ham. The liver is high in various B vitamins, as well as Vitamin A, D, and Vitamin K2. Some people avoid eating pork cuts because their fat is very high in linoleic acid. Fortunately, pork fat is very low in fat – meaning it also contains very small amounts of linoleic acid.
Pork liver contains much less Vitamin A than beef liver – and that’s not a bad thing. Consuming excess amounts of Vitamin A is not a good thing at all (and in some cases – can be dangerous). 100g (3.5oz) of pork liver – provide over 350% of Vitamin A DV. You can compare the nutritional values of different animal livers – here.
Pork heart, when prepared correctly – is delicious! It’s unique in the sense it is classified as both an organ and muscle meat (the heart is a muscle). Just like with beef heart, one can cut it into “steaks”, or add it to ground beef (the texture of it is unique).
Chicken Organ Meats
Out of all animal livers – the chicken liver is the most popular one. It’s easy to prepare – and it’s super juicy (as long as you don’t overcook it). Many cook it with onions (amazingly tasty – but watch out for the carbs) Chicken liver, just like pork and beef liver – contains lots of Vitamin A. Chicken liver is packed to the brim with nutrients – and is perfect for keto!
Chicken hearts are also very popular. They are rich in protein, and nutrients like zinc, iron, and various B vitamins.
A chicken’s gizzard is a small organ that helps it digest food. It’s a very valued organ in many cuisines around the world. Chicken gizzards are super cheap, and when prepared correctly (cooked for many hours in water) – they are really juicy and tender. Turkey gizzards are even tastier in my opinion.