Eating Raw Liver: Nutritional Benefits, Risks, and Safe Consumption Practices

Raw liver is a nutrient-dense superfood with vitamins and minerals. While it offers health benefits like improved skin and organ function, consuming it raw poses risks of bacteria and vitamin A toxicity. Consider consulting a professional before adding it to your diet.

eat raw liver

Whether you’ve heard of the famous Liver King or not, this organ doesn’t need a social media star to advocate its benefits since it is broadly known. You will be in good standing if you consider including raw liver in your diet. 

The liver is the most nutrient-dense food that you can consume. It is also lower in fat and calories than regular animal muscle meats and superior in terms of the number of vitamins and minerals it provides. If you want the full benefits, eating raw liver is best. 

But before rushing off to the butcher, you must first consider a few things about eating raw liver.

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Things To Consider When Eating Raw Liver

Eating raw liver is all the hype now. Still, it might not suit everybody’s lifestyle as it has benefits but also downsides that require your research and consideration.

Benefits Of Eating Raw Livers

The liver is the most nutrient-dense food that you can eat. It is also incredibly high in protein and lean, with only around 25% of its calories from fat. Not only does protein promote a feeling of satiety, but it also boosts your metabolism, which can result in weight loss. 

Collectively, the nutrients in the liver can lower your risk of anemia, improve your skin and bone health, promote the formation of blood cells, allowing better organ functioning, to name a few. These beneficial vitamins and minerals found in the liver include:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9 (folate), B12
  • Choline
  • Vitamin D
  • Iron
  • Copper
  • Zinc
  • Phosphorus
  • Selenium
  • Methionine

It is best to eat raw liver to get the most health benefits. Some nutrients can diminish or degrade during the cooking process.

Risks Of Eating Raw Liver

The fact that the liver is so nutrient-dense can create complications for some already suffering from certain medical conditions. 

For example, those with high cholesterol should limit the amount of liver they consume since it is high in dietary cholesterol. Although high-cholesterol food can relieve your body from producing these fats to maintain a balance in levels, some people will experience an increase in blood cholesterol.

Many people fear vitamin A toxicity from eating liver. This toxicity is when your body’s liver can’t process the additional intake of vitamin A that you get from eating animal liver. However, you will have to consume a large quantity of liver for this to be an issue or eat a polar bear’s liver, which is highly toxic.

Finally, raw meat can contain harmful bacteria (e.g., salmonella and E.coli). For this reason, many healthcare professionals will advise pregnant women and those with low immune systems not to consume raw liver.

Different Types of Liver

There are several different animal livers that you can consume raw:

  • Beef liver: Has an intense flavor, consists of 25% protein, and is the most common liver consumed in the US.
  • Calf or veal liver: This type is like the beef liver in protein makeup but has a sweeter flavor and a more tender texture.
  • Pork liver: It has a slightly bitter taste but is also one of the better protein sources, along with beef and veal.  
  • Lamb liver: Lamb liver comes from a young sheep (less than one year) and has a mild flavor and soft texture. 
  • Chicken liver: Chicken livers are pleasant to start with when introducing liver into your diet since their flavor is milder than beef and pork.
  • Goose liver: Goose liver is popular in France (foie gras) and has a rich, buttery taste.
  • Cod liver: This type of liver is the only fish liver that is common and, as you can guess, tastes mild and fishy. 

Which type of liver you buy will depend on availability, taste preference, and your required protein intake. Beef, pork, and lamb have the highest percentage of protein, which might tip the scales for you on the nutritional front.

Purchasing Raw Liver 

Most animals’ livers are readily available and very cheap; you can purchase them at your local butcher, most big grocery stores, or online. Whomever your supplier is, make sure they are a reputable distributor of locally sourced produce. 

When buying liver, it is also vital to note that it is best bought fresh and that liver from grass-fed animals is better than grain-fed since it has less fat and more omega-3 fatty acids.

Preparing And Storing Raw Liver Safely

Once you buy liver fresh, it is best to first store it whole in the freezer. Once frozen, take out the piece of liver and thaw it for about an hour or less, just enough that the liver is malleable yet still hard enough to cut through easily. Cut the liver into bite-size pieces (about 1-inch cubes).

To store for later, line a baking tray with parchment paper and arrange your bite-size cubes on it, spread apart. Freeze for a couple of hours until the cubes are hard, after which you can transfer them into any freezer-friendly dish, like a glass Pyrex dish with an airtight lid. Freezing the cubes prevents them from sticking together.

Can You Eat Raw Liver?

Many people eat liver cubes that have been thawed halfway but are still somewhat frozen since the taste is more bearable. If you are new to eating liver and don’t love the taste, small cubes allow you to swallow it whole. It is also a good idea to have a beverage nearby, like water or a soda, that you can use to wash the liver down and eliminate the ‘metallic’ aftertaste.

How Much Raw Liver To Consume

There is debate over the exact quantity and regularity with which you can safely consume liver.

The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition recommends eating liver only once a week. Those with vitamin A and iron deficiency can eat it more often under the guidance of a registered doctor. Many people that advocate for the inclusion of liver into your diet, especially those that have done so publicly on social media, eat liver more often. Like an ounce every second day or a 1-inch cube of liver daily. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Do People Eat Raw Liver?

People eat raw liver because it is the most nutrient-dense food you can consume. The liver is known to be beneficial for: 

  • Eyes
  • Energy and mood
  • Immune system
  • Skin 
  • Brain health and cognition 
  • Teeth and Bones

Is It OK To Eat Beef Liver Raw?

Yes and no. Many sources will warn you against eating raw liver because it might contain bacteria like salmonella and E.coli. The truth is, there are a vast amount of people that consume raw liver without ever having any related health issues. It is about the potential risk. So, to steer clear of potential digestive problems and food poisoning from bacteria, you can lightly sear or cook the liver through.

How Do I Consume Raw Liver Safely?

The hard truth is that there is no foolproof way to ensure you’re eating liver safely. Many argue that freezing raw liver prevents existing bacteria from increasing. However, even the smallest amount can still make you ill.

Does liver lose nutrients when cooked?

The liver does lose nutrients when cooked. The nutrition and flavor of the liver are better preserved when it is cooked for a shorter duration. It is important to note that overcooking any food can destroy its nutrients. When frying liver, it is recommended to use cooking fats that can withstand high heat, such as lard, tallow, coconut, and palm oil. Despite what some doctors may say, these fats are considered to be good fats.

Can I eat raw beef?

Raw beef can be problematic and contains dangerous bacteria, just like raw chicken and pork. While it is safer than consuming raw chicken or pork, it is not completely safe. Eating raw steak could potentially lead to infections or viruses such as listeriosis, salmonellosis, and E. Coli poisoning.

Why do people eat raw liver?

People eat raw liver because it offers a highly concentrated supply of vital vitamins and minerals that promote fertility, vision, energy, muscle development, and immune system function, from a nutritional standpoint.

Why did Native Americans eat raw liver?

Native Americans ate raw liver because they considered it to be the healthiest meat option. Our Lakota ancestors and other Indigenous peoples worldwide recognized the nutritional benefits of liver, which is why it was often given to children and pregnant women. Inuit communities, for instance, likely provided liver due to its abundance of vitamins and nutrients.

Does raw liver contain toxins?

Raw liver does not contain toxins and should not be avoided for this reason. Despite common concerns about its cholesterol content and potential toxin storage, the cholesterol in liver is generally not problematic for the majority of individuals, and it does not store toxins.

What country eats raw liver?

The country that consumes raw liver is Lebanon, where the dish is considered a favorite among many, despite the fact that some argue it requires an acquired taste.

How bad does raw liver taste?

Raw liver has a strong metallic taste, which is often described as “mineral-ly” when consumed plain. It also possesses a robust and earthy flavor, accompanied by a pungent taste and smell. Although the liver may not receive the same level of recognition as lamb chops or filet mignon, it is equally delicious.

Which liver is best to eat?

The best liver to eat is beef liver, as it has the most comprehensive nutrient profile. Although chicken liver is higher in minerals like selenium and iron, it does not possess the same level of superfood qualities as beef liver.

Does cooking liver destroy nutrients?

The cooking of liver does destroy nutrients. The nutrition and flavor of liver are better preserved when it is cooked for a shorter duration. It is important to note that there are only four commonly used cooking fats that can withstand high frying temperatures: lard, tallow, coconut, and palm. Despite the opinions of politically correct doctors, these fats are considered to be good for consumption.

Is it better to eat liver raw or cooked?

It is recommended to cook liver before consuming it as the meat and organs of animals may contain bacteria, viruses, and parasites that can lead to food poisoning. Regardless of the freshness, it is important to ensure that the meat is cooked thoroughly, allowing the heat to penetrate the center before eating.

Which liver is best to eat raw?

The best liver to eat raw is Beef Liver. If overcooked, it can have a strong flavor. However, many people now prefer to consume it raw. Grass-fed, Organic, Non-GMO Beef Liver, in particular, has a milder flavor and is free from toxins.

Can liver be eaten rare?

Liver can be eaten rare to medium rare, resulting in a sweet and creamy texture that allows for enjoying the leftovers cold, similar to pâté. However, if liver is overcooked, it becomes disappointing with a grainy and tough consistency.

What does raw liver taste like?

Raw liver has a strong and distinct flavor, with a slightly metallic taste that may be unappealing to some and too “gamey” for others, according to the consensus of many curious individuals.

What is the healthiest liver to eat?

The healthiest liver to eat is beef liver, as it has the best overall nutrient profile compared to chicken liver. Although chicken liver is higher in minerals like selenium and iron, it does not reach the same level of superfood status as beef liver.

Does liver lose nutrients if you cook it?

Liver does not lose nutrients when cooked. However, overcooking liver can destroy some of its nutrients. To preserve the nutritional value and enhance the flavor, it is recommended to cook liver for a shorter period of time. When frying liver, it is best to use fats that can withstand high heat, such as lard, tallow, coconut, or palm oil. Despite what some doctors may say, these fats are considered healthy options.

Should I wash raw liver before cooking?

You should wash raw liver before cooking to ensure proper cleaning and prevent any bitter taste. To prepare clean livers that cook well, soak them in cold water and remove any connective tissue. This will result in ready-to-cook livers that are both affordable and nutritious.

Is beef liver hard to digest?

Beef liver is not hard to digest because it is an unprocessed food that contains intact co-factors and live enzymes, allowing our bodies to effectively assimilate the nutrition. Animal foods, including liver, are highly bioavailable and easily digested.

How do you prepare liver to eat?

The liver can be prepared for consumption by lightly seasoning each slice with salt, black pepper, and garlic powder. To achieve your desired taste, feel free to use additional seasonings of your choice. Next, place the seasoned liver slices in a hot skillet that has some oil on the bottom. Proceed to pan brown the liver in the skillet along with sliced vegetables such as peppers and onions.

Does raw liver have a lot of protein?

Raw liver is known for its high protein content among all organ meats. Including beef liver in a well-rounded diet can offer numerous health advantages and contribute to the maintenance of a strong immune system, a healthy nervous system, proper growth and development, as well as reproductive health.

What is the easiest way to eat liver?

The easiest way to eat liver is by mixing ground liver with regular ground beef in a 20/80 ratio. Most likely, you won’t even detect the presence of liver. If anything, the combination will have a slightly sweeter taste compared to regular meat. This mixture can be used to make hamburgers, cheeseburgers, meatballs, and meatloaf.

What are the symptoms of vitamin A toxicity?

The symptoms of vitamin A toxicity include drowsiness, irritability, abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting, which are commonly experienced. It is also possible for the skin to peel afterwards. In cases of chronic toxicity, early symptoms may include sparsely distributed, coarse hair; loss of eyebrows; dry and rough skin; dry eyes; and cracked lips.

Can too much vitamin A be harmful?

Too much vitamin A can be harmful as it can cause severe headache, blurred vision, nausea, dizziness, muscle aches, and coordination problems. In severe cases, an excessive intake of preformed vitamin A, usually from supplements or certain medications, can even result in coma and death.


Many swear by the numerous benefits that eating liver can have for your health. However, it’s a dietary choice you must approach with caution, as there are potential disadvantages. It is best to first speak to your doctor about including it in your diet and, if you do, start with the minimum amount.

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