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Eating Raw Liver: The Benefits and Risks You Need to Know

I’ve written plenty about the benefits beef liver, chicken liver and even compared liver to other organ meats such as kidney, but not about eating liver raw.

Searching up “can I eat raw liver” is about as controversial and confusing as it gets. You’ll find strong opinions and arguments on both sides and everything in between.

I can tell you that, well, they’re all correct. As with many things in life, it’s not a simple yes or no; it’s a “it depends” type of thing.

Before you throw your arms up in despair and exclaim “what use are you!”, I promise to bring some clarity to this murkiness.

In a nutshell, not all animals and the meat therefrom is processed equally, so quality is the biggest factor here.

Let me guide you through this enigma of raw liver so you can utlize the health benefits of eating raw liver and avoid the potential of getting food poisoning.

I would like to say at this point that this is information only and not dietary advice. If you decide to eat liver raw, that is your decision… you are in charge of you!


  • Eating Raw Liver: Highly nutritious, surpassing even kale. Best from grass-fed sources to avoid toxins.
  • Ancestral Wisdom: Historically valued for its health benefits, emphasizing organ meats’ role in a balanced diet.
  • Liver Varieties: Beef liver is most popular, but chicken, lamb, and pig liver also offer unique benefits.
  • Benefits: Raw liver enhances nutrient absorption, provides vital vitamins, supports cognitive and liver health, boosts the immune system, and improves energy, skin, and bone health.
  • Risks: Potential for bacterial infection and vitamin A toxicity; sourcing high-quality liver is essential.
  • Health Agencies’ Advice: Caution advised due to foodborne illness risks; emphasize proper handling.
  • Sourcing: Grass-fed liver preferred for nutrient profile and ethical considerations.
  • Consumption Methods: Can be eaten raw, frozen then consumed, used in recipes, or substituted with supplements for convenience.
  • Moderation: Recommended to limit intake to avoid excessive vitamin A.

Can You Eat Raw Liver?

Liver is the most nutritionally dense foods on the planet, no other food comes near it – fact! Yes, kale has nothing on liver.

But what about eating it raw?

Eating raw liver is not only possible but can be quite beneficial to your health.

Raw liver, especially from grass-fed animals, is packed with essential nutrients like vitamins A, B12, and iron.

However, it’s crucial to source high-quality liver to minimize risks such as bacterial infections or exposure to toxins.

With proper care, raw liver can be a safe and powerful addition to a healthy diet.

Tips From Our Ancestors

What would our ancestors have done? This is a question I ask myself about most things in life, whether it’s about what we should be eating, doing, or being.

Humans have been on this earth for many years, but it’s only recently that we’re privileged to live in this world of plenty and processed man-made junk.

For generations, our ancestors have revered liver as a nutrient-dense superfood. They instinctively knew the health benefits of consuming raw liver to boost vitality and overall well-being.

This traditional wisdom underscores the importance of including organ meats in our diet, suggesting that what worked for our ancestors can still hold true today, especially in an era where processed foods dominate our meals.

Liver Types: What Are The Options?

When it comes to eating liver, beef liver is often the go-to choice for its rich nutrient profile and availability.

However, there are other tasty options worth exploring. Lamb liver, with its slightly gamey taste, offers a robust flavor, while pig liver stands out with its distinct, slightly sweeter taste.

Each type of liver has its unique taste and texture, providing a variety of ways to enrich your diet with essential vitamins and minerals.

Whether you choose beef for its boldness, lamb for a touch of gaminess, or pig for its unique sweetness, incorporating these organ meats into your diet can offer unparalleled health benefits.

They all have a jelly-like texture with an acidic and bitter flavor that many will struggle with, even if you’re a veteran of cooked liver.

For this post, I’ll be focusing on beef liver as it’s the most popular option.

The Health Benefits of Eating Raw Grass-Fed Beef Liver

Eating raw grass-fed beef liver is like tapping into nature’s own multivitamin. This superfood is packed with nutrients essential for maintaining optimal health.

Unlike cooked liver, raw liver retains more of its natural enzymes and nutrients, offering a concentrated source of vitamins and minerals.

Let’s dive into the incredible health benefits of incorporating raw beef liver into your diet.

Health Benefit 1: Enhanced Vitamin and Mineral Absorption

Raw beef liver is a powerhouse of vitamins A, B12, and other B vitamins, which are crucial for energy metabolism and immune system function. Eating it raw ensures these nutrients are fully available for your body to absorb, supporting everything from skin health to mental clarity.

Health Benefit 2: Superior Source of Heme Iron

The heme iron found in raw beef liver is the type most easily absorbed by your body, crucial for preventing iron deficiency anemia. This form of iron supports healthy blood cells, enhancing oxygen transport and energy levels throughout your body.

Health Benefit 3: Boosts Cognitive Function

Rich in vitamin B12 and other essential nutrients, raw beef liver can play a vital role in maintaining brain health and improving normal cognitive function.

These nutrients support nerve health, memory, and can help ward off brain fog.

Health Benefit 4: Supports Detoxification and Liver Health

Raw liver is not just nutritious; it also contains coenzyme Q10 and other compounds that support the liver’s detoxification processes.

Eating liver supports the health of your own liver, helping to cleanse your body of toxins and promote overall well-being.

Health Benefit 5: Promotes Healthy Skin and Vision

Vitamin A, abundant in raw beef liver, is vital for healthy skin and vision.

Consuming raw liver can help prevent vitamin A deficiency, promote skin cell renewal, and support eye health, including protection against night blindness and age-related decline.

Health Benefit 6: Encourages Healthy Pregnancy

Probably controversial but in theory, with its high content of folic acid, raw beef liver is an excellent food for pregnant women.

Folic acid plays a crucial role in preventing birth defects and supporting the healthy development of the baby, making raw liver a nutritious addition to prenatal care.

However, I’m guessing many health care professionals would suggest against raw liver, and eating raw meat in general.

Health Benefit 7: Strengthens Immune System

The rich blend of essential vitamins – including fat-soluble vitamins – and trace minerals in raw beef liver bolsters immune function.

Regular consumption can enhance your body’s natural defenses, helping to protect against illness and infection.

Health Benefit 8: Improves Energy Levels

Thanks to its high vitamin B12 content, raw beef liver is a natural energy booster.

This nutrient is essential for converting food into energy, helping you feel more alert and reducing fatigue.

Health Benefit 9: Supports Bone & Dental Health

Raw beef liver is a significant source of vitamin D, essential for calcium absorption and bone health and dental health.

Consuming raw liver can help maintain strong bones, prevent osteoporosis, and ensure your skeletal system stays robust as you age.

Eating raw grass-fed beef liver over cooked liver brings a host of benefits, from improved energy and cognitive function to better immune health and detoxification support.

By incorporating this nutrient-dense food into your diet, you’re choosing a path to enhanced overall health and vitality.

Proceed With Caution: The Health Risks Of Eating Raw Liver

While eating raw liver offers numerous health benefits, it’s important to proceed with caution.

Consuming raw organ meats can pose health risks, including exposure to bacteria like Salmonella or E. coli, and parasites.

There’s also a risk of vitamin A toxicity from consuming large amounts of liver.

To safely enjoy the benefits, it’s crucial to understand and reduce these risks.

The Health Officials’ Advice

Health agencies like the CDC caution against consuming undercooked and raw meat due to the risk of foodborne illnesses. They emphasize proper handling and thorough cooking as key measures to prevent infection.

While raw liver can be nutritious, these organizations recommend ensuring it’s sourced from reputable suppliers and consider freezing it first to kill off parasites.

Find Reliable Sources

To minimize health risks associated with eating raw liver, sourcing is key. Opt for liver from grass-fed, and potentially organically raised animals to reduce exposure to harmful substances.

Trusted local butchers or reputable online suppliers who specialize in grass-fed products can provide the safest options.

Ensuring the liver comes from healthy animals raised in clean environments significantly lowers the risk of contamination and guarantees maximum nutrients.

Freshness is also important; think of our ancestors – they would have eaten the liver fresh at the site of the kill while it was still warm. We don’t have that luxury.

You should be able to get a decent idea of freshness simply by looking and smelling the liver. It should be deep red in color with no greyness and have minimal odor – be cautious of any strong smells.

Grass-Fed vs Grain Fed Liver

When choosing between grass-fed and grain-fed liver, the differences can significantly impact nutrition and health benefits.

Grass-fed liver comes from animals that have grazed on natural pastures, leading to a higher content of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals.

In contrast, grain-fed liver, from animals raised or at least finished on a diet primarily of grains, may contain fewer nutrients and a higher level of fats that aren’t as beneficial.

Grass-fed liver not only supports more ethical farming practices meaning the animals get to live a good life, but also offers a superior nutrient profile, making it the healthier choice for those looking to maximize the health benefits of eating raw liver.

How To Eat Raw Liver

Incorporating raw liver into your diet can seem daunting at first, but there are various ways to enjoy this nutrient-rich organ meat. From diving right into getting creative with recipes, there’s an approach for every palate.

Just Tuck In!

For the bold and the brave, eating raw liver in its natural state is an option. Almost a fad, even Joe Rogan ate raw liver with Paul Saladino.

Simply select a high-quality piece of liver, slice it, and enjoy the burst of nutrients. It’s an acquired taste, but for many, the health benefits outweigh the initial hesitance.

Freeze It And Pop It

Freezing raw liver before consuming it not only helps kill potential pathogens but can also make the liver easier to consume.

Once frozen, you can cut the liver into small, pill-sized pieces and swallow them whole, almost like a natural supplement.

This method makes it easier to incorporate raw liver into your diet without dealing with the taste and texture that some find challenging.

Raw Beef Liver Recipes: Get Creative

  1. Liver Smoothie: Blend a small piece of raw liver with fruits like berries and bananas, along with a handful of spinach for an extra health kick. It’s a great way to mask the flavor while still getting all the benefits.
  2. Liver Tartare: Mix finely chopped raw liver with olive oil, lemon juice, capers, and seasonings. Serve it on cucumber slices or with avocado for a nutritious appetizer.
  3. Liver Sashimi: Thinly slice the liver and marinate it briefly in a mixture of soy sauce, lemon juice, and ginger. Serve it with a sprinkle of sesame seeds for an Asian-inspired delicacy.

If All Else Fails: Beef Liver Supplements

For those who find the idea of eating raw liver unappealing, beef liver supplements offer a convenient alternative. While more costly, they provide a compact dose of the liver’s nutritional benefits without the taste or texture to worry about.

I’ve written about the benefits of beef liver supplements, check it out.

There’s a load of beef liver supplement options on the market which can be overwhelming, so I’ve done an article on the best beef liver supplements on the market as well as organ meat supplements to help you figure out the best one for you.

Too Much Of A Good Thing: How Much Liver?

While liver is loaded with beneficial nutrients, moderation is suggested due to its significant amounts of vitamin A.

Consuming too much liver, especially if it’s a regular part of your diet, can lead to vitamin A toxicity, which can cause serious health issues over time. Health experts generally recommend limiting liver intake to about 3 to 4 ounces (85 to 113 grams) per week.

That said, other than some cases of vitamin A toxicity from eating polar bear liver – which is crazy amounts higher in vitamin A – there are no reported severe illnesses or deaths from eating too much liver.

I eat around 500mg of beef liver per week and haven’t experienced any issues – but that’s just me. Listen to your body.


Our hunter-gatherer ancestors would have savored raw liver right after the kill like a ritual, basking in the instant boost it can provide.

That for me is evidence enough to prove we can eat liver raw. However, in our modern world, it’s rare to be able to eat liver so fresh, which is where the risk comes in.

We know liver is one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet, offering numerous health benefits and that eating it raw provides those health benefits undamaged from the heat of cooking…

However, we need to be careful of the risks of eating raw liver ensuring we source high-quality liver that’s as fresh as possible. You can freeze the liver which will reduce the risk of food poisoning.

You need to be mindful of excess vitamin A and not overconsume liver.

Ultimately, it’s your choice to eat raw liver or settle for cooked. Either way, you’ll be blessing your body with a load of goodness that’ll help you optimize your health and overcome health problems.

And, that’s it… have a nutritious day!


Is raw liver a superfood?

Yes, raw liver is considered a superfood due to its high concentration of essential nutrients, including vitamins A, B12, iron, and folic acid, supporting overall health and vitality.

Can you eat liver rare?

Eating liver rare is a common practice among those who prefer to preserve its nutrient content and flavor. However, sourcing high-quality liver is crucial to minimize health risks.

How often can you eat liver?

It’s recommended to eat liver in moderation, ideally limiting consumption to 3 to 4 ounces per week, to avoid potential vitamin A toxicity and maintain dietary balance.

Is raw liver good for skin?

Absolutely, raw liver’s high vitamin A content promotes skin health by supporting cell regeneration, reducing acne, and contributing to a healthy, glowing complexion.

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