At one point or another, you’ve probably heard the term “superfoods.” It’s often mentioned in health-related articles and conversations. Yogurt, nuts, and berries are usually classified as superfoods, so you may have already tried eating them. Aside from these organic, natural foods, there are certain kinds of meat which can be classified as superfoods. These are what we call the organ meats.
Organ meats are animal-based foods which come with a lot of health benefits. Therefore they can be classified as super! Think about how predators consume other animals in the natural world. Once a predator catches its prey, it immediately devours the kidneys and the liver first. Then it continues to the muscles and the other meaty parts of the animal. Although a lot of people may cringe at the concept of eating organs, it’s like eating the outer muscles and meats of an animal.
These organ meats are dense parts of the animal. They contain a lot of vitamins, minerals, and essential nutrients. These healthy components include iron, copper, phosphorus, magnesium, B vitamins, and so much more. And when prepared the right way, these meat parts can be delicious. Consuming dishes with organ meats would be like consuming meals at a high-class restaurant.
Organ meats are the edible parts of the animal’s skeletal muscles. They are also known as “offal” which stands for “off fall.” These are the pieces that fall off the animal’s carcass during the butchering process. These parts are the liver, kidneys, heart, lungs, and other such organs.
In America, organ meats refer to giblets, which are parts that come from birds. They can also refer to sweetbreads which refers to the pancreas or thymus gland of a young pig, cow or lamb. This article contains everything about the most common organ meats. From the kinds of the nutritional information, there is a lot to learn.
The Organ Meats
Take away the zombie jokes, and you’re still left with a controversial kind of edible organ meat. It may seem strange (and somewhat gross), but brains are very beneficial. The downside of this type of meat contains a specific type of protein linked to mad cow disease. Aside from that, it also contains more cholesterol than any other kind of food.
Even with these drawbacks, brains also happen to be the most nutrient-rich parts of any animal. They are filled with healthy oils which may strengthen brain power. This is because brains contain DHA, an oil which is rumored to make people smarter. Brains also contain vitamin B12, another beneficial component. This vitamin helps prevent anemia, depression, and fatigue. It’s also known to increase a person’s mental abilities.
Usually, the brain is lightly coated in flour then sautéed. This presentation gives it a better texture for eating. To prepare the brain for cooking, make sure to take out the film and any veins surrounding it. Once that’s done, soak the brain in water for some hours, making sure to change the water every hour. After soaking, blanch the brain in boiling water and cut it up. Toss the pieces in flour then sauté in butter until the pieces have turned golden brown. Brains can also be poached, scrambled, used in sandwiches, and even cooked in savory stews.
The best animal sources for brains are pig, lamb, cow, and rabbit.
The heart is a muscle, which means it’s quite like other kinds of meat. But the great thing about the heart is it costs less than ground beef, roasts, and steak. Heart contains more protein, folate, thiamine, selenium, zinc, phosphorus, and CoQ10 than the meats it’s like. It also contains a lot of B vitamins and amino acids which can enhance the body’s metabolism. Hearts also contain elements which help the body produce elastin and collagen. These are essential in slowing down the aging process. All these components in this type or organ meat help the body store energy, build muscle and boost endurance and stamina.
When purchasing beef heart, make sure it has a deep reddish-brown color. It should also have a thin layer of fat near the top part. Just like most organ meats, the heart is quite delicate, so it must be cooked gradually. It’s also best to serve it medium rare.
To prepare this type of organ meat, carefully cut away the fat, valves, tendons, and other connective tissues. Then, slice it and rub salt on it. When that’s done, soak the heart slices in a marinade that’s acid-based. Keep it soaked for an hour or two. This process makes the heart tender and more flavorful. After marinating, grill the heart slices and serve them with a tangy vinaigrette. Other animal hearts can be prepared the same way. Although for chicken hearts, you don’t have to slice them up.
The best animal sources of the heart are chicken, cow, and lamb.
Kidneys are another healthy type of organ meats. These contain high amounts of protein without any of the fat. Kidneys also contain iron, riboflavin, and lots of B12. Aside from these, kidneys also have folate, niacin, and a good amount of vitamin B6.
When searching for kidneys, make sure that they’re glossy, plump and free of foul odors and discolorations. Select kidneys which have a deep-red color. But if you’re choosing veal kidneys, go for those who are tanner in color.
Rinse the kidneys in cold water and take off the thin outer membrane. Slice the kidneys in half and soak them in water with a bit of salt for an hour or two. This makes the flavor subtler, not too strong. Kidneys are typically sautéed with olive oil or butter. They can also be used in casseroles or baked into savory kidney pies.
The best animal sources of kidneys are cow, pig, and lamb.
The liver is the most common organ meat. It’s consumed by a lot of people, and it’s not as bizarre as the other types. This organ meat is an excellent source of protein, along with other beneficial nutrients. Liver contains copper, vitamin A, iron, and folic acid. It also contains CoQ10, which is essential for the functionality of the cardiovascular system. The liver is popular with athletes because it enhances the blood cells’ capacity to carry oxygen in the body. This, in turn, enhances their fighting fatigue, strength, and endurance. It also contains B vitamins which help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
The liver can be quite tricky to prepare. This is because it also contains toxins. These toxins come from chemicals and drugs the animals ingest. Therefore, it’s better to purchase liver from grass-fed animals. When preparing liver, it’s advisable to soak it in milk or lemon juice first. This reduces the strong natural taste of the meat. When you’re done soaking the liver, sear it in a pan until it turns light pink. Then, it’s best to top it off with some caramelized onions. If you cook liver too long, it ends up with a rubbery or tough texture. Overcooking it also releases a lot of the digestive enzymes and nutrients contained within.
The best animal sources of the liver are chicken, fish, cow, lamb, duck, bison, and a lot more.
Although liver is commonly eaten, a lot of people are still cautious of this organ meat. This is because the liver filters the toxins from the blood, whether in humans or animals. A lot of people may find this troubling, especially when you think about eating it. But, the liver is totally safe to eat. The toxin levels in theliver are the same with the rest of the animal’s body.
This is because the liver doesn’t filter toxins. It’s more like a processing plant. It makes the toxins inactive, therefore making them useless. This means, if your liver contains a lot of toxins, so does the rest of your body. The same goes for animals too. If the animal is free of toxins, that means its liver is toxin-free too. So, you can safely consume any of its parts, including the liver.
Other Organ Meats to Try Out
The 4 organ types of meat discussed are the most well-known and widely consumed. But there are more types to choose from. In this section, we’ll go through 3 more types of organ meats along with their benefits.
The tongue is in fact, a muscle. It’s a tender and delectable piece of meat which contains a lot of fat. This organ meat contains B12 and a lot more B vitamins. The most common sources of tongues are cow and veal. Usually, tongue has a firm and grainy texture along with a grayish-pink color. It can be poached, roasted, boiled, and even pickled.
Beef tongue is the most common kind used in cuisines. It’s very tasty and works well in different kinds of soups. But, being very versatile, it can also be grilled, ground for tacos, and even used as sandwich filling. This meat contains choline, vitamin B12, potassium, zinc, and iron. It’s a complete protein which enhances the body’s immune system.
This organ meat is the lining of an animal’s stomach. Usually, tripe is taken from cattle, and it has a chewy texture. Tripe has a honeycomb texture on the surface, like dish rags or towels. But, it’s considered as a delicacy for years.
Reticulum is the most common type of tripe. This honeycomb variety of trips is taken from a cow’s second stomach. Aside from this, there’s also rumen, which is taken from a cow’s first stomach. The most challenging part of eating tripe is handling the chewy texture and the gamey taste. If you can get past that, you can be sure you’re eating a healthy meat. It contains high amounts of protein as well as potassium, and other healthy components.
Tripe takes a lot of time to prepare. For most dishes, this needs at least 12 hours of gradual cooking time. This organ meat adds texture to soups and stews. It also soaks up all the flavors of the broth, giving it a rich taste. It’s low in fat and calories but very high in protein. It also contains B12, zinc, and selenium.
Sweetbreads aren’t what you think. They aren’t a type of bread, and they aren’t sweet. They are made from organ meats, usually the pancreas and thymus gland. Sweetbreads contain a lot of protein. But they also contain a lot of cholesterol and fat. The best animal sources of sweetbreads are cow, pig, and calf. These organ meats are usually coated in flour then sautéed. When done the cooking, they’re crispy and golden brown?
Sweetbreads also contain essential amino acids, aside from all the protein. You need these to help repair the tissues in your body. You can pair sweetbreads with bacon to add flavor to it. Aside from this, you can even place them on skewers and grill them.
Organ Meats Are Truly Beneficial
There are different types of organ meats, and they all come with their benefits. Some types are more beneficial than others. But nobody can deny that they are all healthy food options. Here are some of the general benefits of consuming organ meats:
- All organ meats are excellent sources of iron. These meats contain heme iron, which is absorbed better by the body.
- Consuming organ meats keeps you feeling full for a longer time. Studies have shown that diets which are high in protein can help reduce the appetite. Organ meats may also aid in weight loss as they enhance the body’s metabolism.
- These meats also aid in retaining the body’s muscle mass because they contain high levels of protein.
- Organ meats are also excellent sources of choline. This component is important for the health of the muscles, liver, and brain.
- Finally, organ cuts are cheaper and consuming them reduces food waste.
These are only some of the benefits of these superfoods. There are a lot more. The bottom line is that these meats are cheaper, healthier, and can be prepared different ways to make them tasty. All these reasons should be enough to make people want to try them at least out!