What does liver have to do with fertility? Well, it’s funny you ask.
The liver is nature’s multivitamin. It contains significant concentrations of many key nutrients including pre-formed vitamin A, iron, copper, folate, vitamin B12, vitamin K, vitamin D, calcium, and zinc, just to mention a few. When consuming liver it is important to find a local source that raises the animals in a humane way without the use of hormones or antibiotics.
- Vitamin A plays an essential role in embryonic and fetal development. Studies have shown that a deficiency of vitamin A can lead to congenital abnormalities or miscarriage  . Liver provides vitamin A in the form of retinol which the body can utilize readily without having to convert it into the usable form.
- Iron is present in all cells in the body and has several functions including carrying oxygen from the lungs to the tissues and ensuring proper brain growth and development of the fetus during pregnancy. During pregnancy, a woman’s iron requirements increase three-fold, and iron deficiency in infants can lead to slower growth and development .
- Most people have heard by now that folate is essential for proper fetal development. Without sufficient folate, babies may be born with serious neural tube defects such as anencephaly and spina bifida .
- Similarly to a folate deficiency, a Vitamin B12 deficiency is also linked to severe birth defects.
Although liver is not the only possible source of these essential nutrients, it’s certainly an excellent place to start. Liver and other organ meats contain anywhere from 10 to 100 times the nutrients when compared to other muscle meats. It should go without saying that the body is better able to absorb and utilize nutrients when they come from food when compared to nutritional supplements that are synthesized in a lab.
Easy Liver Paté:
8-12 oz of beef, lamb, or chicken liver
3/4 cup butter
2-5 tbsp heavy cream and/or milk
1 medium sized onion, chopped
4-5 cloves of garlic, chopped
3-4 sprigs fresh thyme (or 1 Tsp dried)
3-4 sprigs fresh oregano (or 1 Tsp dried)
1 tsp chives (fresh if possible)
1/2 Tsp fresh parsley (or 1/2 Tsp dried)
1 tsp curry
1/2 Tsp ground cloves
salt and pepper to taste
Rinse liver in water with a splash of vinegar, and season with salt, pepper, curry, and cloves. Marinate for 1-2 hours or overnight (optional). Melt 1/4 cup butter in skillet, add onions and garlic and sauté on low heat for only 2-3 min. Add liver and simmer on low heat until the first side starts to brown (about 5-7 min). Turn and simmer the second side on low heat until cooked (about 4-6 min). The liver may retain a pinkish hew even after it is fully cooked. An over-cooked liver is extremely tough and grainy, so keep an eye on it. Cut through the thicker parts to check if it is finished cooking, or use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature ( 165 degrees F means it’s done).
Side note: Whenever possible I cook with fresh herbs, and to maintain their freshness I add them to the mixture once the liver is finished cooking when it’s time to puree.
After the liver has cooked it’s time to puree! Using either a food processor or my personal favorite, the Nutri bullet (yep you heard right and it works amazing!), Pour all of the contents of the skillet right into the mixer. Add fresh herbs (thyme, oregano, parsley, chives), the remaining 1/2 cup of butter, and add 2 tbsp of cream. Then puree. If the mixture is not smooth enough, add 1-3 tbsp more cream until it reaches a good consistency (i.e. spreadable but not too runny). Place in the container of your choice and allow to cool before putting in the refrigerator. Once cool, place in the refrigerator and chill over night. The flavour gets better after the pate has chilled for a day or two. Enjoy!
If you try this recipe I’d love to hear how it goes! Please leave a comment below.
1. Vitamin A and Embryonic Development: An Overview http://jn.nutrition.org/content/128/2/455S.short
2. Function of Vitamin A in Vertebrate Embryonic Development http://jn.nutrition.org/content/131/3/705.short
3. Effects of Iron Deficiency Anemia in Pregnancy in Child Mental Development in Rural China http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/131/3/e755.full
4. Folate and neural tube defects http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17209211
Tamar Harrington says
Hey, Lisa! I was wondering, for fertility and general health is it better to eat, for example, one or two meals a week with a large serving of liver, or a little bit of liver each day (just maybe a few bites)?
Fertility Friday says
Hi Tamar, either way would be fine. If you think in terms of total weekly consumption, whether you had one or two meals with liver, or had a small amount daily, it would likely add up to about the same. Our bodies are infinitely more intelligent than we are, so whichever way you provide, our bodies know what to do with it 🙂