Want to know why you should never, ever eat liver? I’ll tell you. Better yet, I’ll show you. Best, I’ll prove it with simple, straightforward data. Ready?
Liver isn’t bad for you, and not for the reason most people give. Most people say you shouldn’t eat liver because “liver is the filter. It filters out all the bad stuff in your body.”
That’s actually an empty argument. I’ll get into why in a minute. For now, you should know the real reason is just too much of a good thing.
Why Most People Say You Shouldn’t Eat Liver
Most people say you shouldn’t eat liver because it’s full of all the impurities it filters from our blood stream. It’s a filter, in other words, and when you eat it, you’re putting back all the bad stuff in the environment it filtered out, like metals, pesticides, and so on.
There’s no science to back that up. While it’s true the liver stores certain compounds (necessary vitamins and minerals, for times when we can’t get those things from our diets) it doesn’t store the bad stuff (pesticides and other toxins). Those it passes quickly from the body, never to be seen again.
In other words, when you eat liver, you’re not putting yourself in danger from everything it ever filtered out.
Why Most People Say You Should Eat Liver
Liver is full of vitamins. There’s no denying that. It’s jammed with vitamin A and all the B vitamins, plus iron and other minerals. It’s been called the world’s most nutritious food.
In fact, it probably is the world’s most nutritious, vitamin-packed food. So why am I telling you that you shouldn’t eat liver? Simply put, it’s got too much vitamins. Let’s examine that right now.
Why You Shouldn’t Eat Liver
The real reason you shouldn’t eat liver is vitamin A. It’s got too darned much of it. 3.5 ounces of liver (one small liver steak) has 813% of the US “Daily Value” of vitamin A. Do you know what happens when you eat too much vitamin A? It’s toxic. It can harm your liver.
In fact, eating polar bear liver gives you such a high dose of vitamin A that it can actually kill you. Now, most people in the U.S. aren’t walking around gnawing on polar bear liver kebabs. But even beef liver (with 8x more vitamin A than you ought to get in any one day) can deliver a toxic dose.
I know this because it happened to me.
How I Found Out You Shouldn’t Eat Liver
I went on the Wahls Protocol diet. In case you haven’t heard of it, it’s a modified form of Paleo, specifically for those with MS. I don’t have MS, but I had heard the diet could help my allergies, so I went on it for six weeks.
One of the recommendations of the Wahls Protocol is eating beef liver. That’s because with Wahls, you don’t get enough B vitamins from other foods, and a B vitamin deficiency can cause serious nerve damage, among other things.
The Problem with Eating Liver
Now, Liver has a ton of B vitamins. So you’d think that it would in fact be the answer to someone who doesn’t get enough vitamin B in his diet, right? Well not so fast. The massive dose of vitamin A in liver means that along with all that healthy B, you also get a toxic dose of vitamin A.
I compounded this problem by also taking cod liver oil and a spirulina supplement. Those are both extremely high in vitamin A. In fact, after I realized I had a problem, I calculated that in one day I consumed 20x more vitamin A than I should have, just by eating 3 oz of liver, a tablespoon of spirulina, and a tablespoon of cod liver oil.
The Proof You Shouldn’t Eat Liver
As part of my Wahls Protocol diet (also Paleo diet, also ketogenic diet) test, I had a full blood panel done before and after, to make sure I wasn’t harming myself in any way. If you do the ketogenic diet or any other drastic diet, I strongly recommend having this done. Any drastic diet change should be coupled with testing and monitoring. If I hadn’t done this, I’d never have found out what a terrible idea it is to eat liver.
I was pleasantly surprised to find out the ketogenic diet helped my lipid profile. Before, I’d had HDL of 54. That’s considered low. When your HDL is too low, it can actually cause heart trouble.
My LDL was 127. That’s a touch too high.
After three weeks of keto, my HDL had gone up to 88. That’s a jump of 67%. Meanwhile, my LDL or “bad fat” had come down to 115. Still a touch too high, but 10% lower than it had been. Meanwhile, my overall cholesterol had gone up 3%.
The big surprise was, my liver function was slightly elevated. Mind you, I took the test about 16 hours after I unknowingly ate all that vitamin A.
I stayed on the diet for another week and retested my liver function, this time without eating liver or spirulina. My numbers dropped back down to normal.
You Should Never Eat Liver Because it’s Toxic
To put a fine point on it, liver just gives you too much vitamin A. Now granted, in my case I was compounding the problem by eating too much vitamin A from other sources also, like cod liver oil and spirulina. But even without those sources, eating liver still gave me 8x too much vitamin A.
The elevated liver enzymes found in my blood were there because the excess vitamin A was actually damaging my liver.
One Other Reason to Avoid Liver
Here’s another reason to avoid eating liver: It tastes absolutely awful. To liver lovers, yes, I’ve read about soaking it in milk. To be honest, I couldn’t try that because the Wahls Protocol forbids milk. I sauteed it lightly and was careful not to overcook it. I could barely choke it down.
As a testament to how bad it tastes, I gave some to my dog, who will eat poop or rotting entrails without blinking, and he wouldn’t touch it. Now, there’s got to be a reason it tastes so bad, doesn’t there? It’s as if mother nature is saying, “Don’t eat this. It is toxic.”
Basically, you should never eat liver. That’s not because it’s full of impurities or anything like that. It’s not. Liver’s job is to rid the body of impurities. Rather, it stores up too much vitamin A, which means that if you eat it, you can get a toxic dose.
Yes, liver is full of healthy vitamins and minerals. But the toxic vitamin A dose means it’s simply not worth the effort. The fact that eating liver can actually harm your own liver should make avoiding this popular food a no-brainer.