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"Eating organs provides lots of healthy fats"...or does it?

by (24523)
Updated about 15 hours ago
Created October 26, 2010 at 8:32 PM

Eating from nose to tail means getting lots more fat than you would if you only ate the muscle, because bones and organs have a lot of fat. Or so I read in many paleo articles/threads. Bone marrow is essentially all fat. But organs?

  • A serving of the heaviest organ, the liver, has 20 grams of protein and only 4 grams of fat
  • The heart has the same ratio, 5:1 protein to fat
  • Even the fatty fat fat brain has an equal amount of protein as fat
  • Except for the brain, organ fat is pretty much all omega 6 fat.
  • The total mass of bodily organs is much less than 10% of total body weight, so the animal is providing us with lots of muscle, and much less organ and marrow.

Am I missing something? The fat content of organs looks to be almost exactly the same as meat we usually eat, or less if your meat is grain-fed. As a disclaimer, I know nothing about offal, so there may be a big hole in this reasoning.

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24523 · March 05, 2011 at 1:48 AM

Of course organs are paleo! They just don't contain as much fat as I was led to believe. But then again, I haven't eaten them with visceral fat on the side...

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25467 · March 05, 2011 at 1:30 AM

The answer is simple. Choline levels and magnesium levels are highest in the organ meats and the SAD is woeful in providing either. The omega six in organ meats are from eicosainoids that are anti inflammatory and not the pro inflammatory side of AA metabolism. So organ are totally paleo. Read Masterjohn blog about choline and magnesium.

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20787 · November 26, 2010 at 4:24 AM

Fatty liver is what you get when you are sick and your liver fills with fat. Other than that, I HAVE heard of the inuit saying some fat can be obtained around organs and so that fat is targeted by the inuit. I don't remember it being TONS of fat, but I think all fat sources on the animal are well known and targeted by those with extensive survival knowledge.

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24523 · October 28, 2010 at 4:00 AM

I'm sorry, but you're both indisputably wrong. Or rather, I'm actually a bit wrong. Organs are usually mentioned for nutrients, but they also are mentioned in this argument against Cordain: "Eating animals didn't entail eating "lean" meat, because of the addition of marrow and organs". I'm the only person who's seen that around?

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803 · October 28, 2010 at 2:29 AM

see my answer above :)

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56616 · October 27, 2010 at 7:28 PM

Chickens won't have much fat around their organs and I assume they are domestic chickens anyway. I know several people who can kill birds with primitive bows and arrows (I recently got involved with historical archery because there is a club nearby). You can also trap them and net them, but that's not considering sporting in our culture.

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24523 · October 27, 2010 at 6:33 PM

I'll be gutting some chickens this weekend, and will keep a watchful eye for organ fat. On a different note, are birds that paleo? Seems like they'd be hard to kill without guns and crossbows.

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56616 · October 27, 2010 at 5:49 PM

I've seen fatty organs IRL when butchering deer. I suggest everyone gets a hunting license and looks for themselves :)

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24523 · October 27, 2010 at 3:41 PM

I swear I've seen claims of fatty organs in other places, but suspiciously, I can't remember where...

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24523 · October 27, 2010 at 3:40 PM

How much visceral fat do animals have, in comparison to subcutaneous fat?

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1665 · October 27, 2010 at 3:20 PM

Organs are often *covered* in fat, which is usually not part of the nutritional data in databases and has often been cleaned off the organs when you buy them in the store.

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3641 · October 27, 2010 at 12:22 PM

i guess the question i am wondering about is if game meats don't provide much fats, how much fat is necessary in a diet, what was the paleo paradigm, where did they get their calories, did paleo ancestors constantly have the runs if it was all protein?

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3641 · October 27, 2010 at 12:16 PM

i think cavemen must have set up some sort of game CAFO to harvest thymus glands like we do chicken nuggets.

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2423 · October 27, 2010 at 11:30 AM

Strange, I haven't seen anyone claim organs are particularly fatty other than one time in the lean meat thread yesterday

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2423 · October 27, 2010 at 11:29 AM

I haven't seen anyone claim organs are particularly fatty other than one time in the lean meat thread yesterday.

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19220 · October 26, 2010 at 10:25 PM

A whole cow brain only weighs about a pound though. 48 grams of fat isn't a lot to share out. Most prey animals have small brains.

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24523 · October 26, 2010 at 9:37 PM

Ah, forgot about sweetbreads. The thymus and pancreas are pretty small though.

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24523 · October 26, 2010 at 8:56 PM

Grams...an average portion of brain has 10 grams of each.

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9647 · October 26, 2010 at 8:55 PM

"Even the fatty fat fat brain has an equal amount of protein as fat." Grams or calories?

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3 Answers

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3641 · October 26, 2010 at 9:09 PM

The things that come to mind that were eaten by our paleo friends that are high in fat are brains and sweet breads.

Cow brains are like 48 grams of fat per pound, I am going to guess that this is similar for many other animals.

Sweetbreads are 28 grams of fat for 4 oz. They are something like 70% fat.

Even a 1:1 ratio of fat to protein is still a pretty fatty slice of meat.

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3641 · October 27, 2010 at 12:16 PM

i think cavemen must have set up some sort of game CAFO to harvest thymus glands like we do chicken nuggets.

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24523 · October 26, 2010 at 9:37 PM

Ah, forgot about sweetbreads. The thymus and pancreas are pretty small though.

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19220 · October 26, 2010 at 10:25 PM

A whole cow brain only weighs about a pound though. 48 grams of fat isn't a lot to share out. Most prey animals have small brains.

691f120a3e7a1a036845d105d86c99a3
3641 · October 27, 2010 at 12:22 PM

i guess the question i am wondering about is if game meats don't provide much fats, how much fat is necessary in a diet, what was the paleo paradigm, where did they get their calories, did paleo ancestors constantly have the runs if it was all protein?

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4896 · October 28, 2010 at 2:11 AM

I always thought it was not just about fat, but rather the variety in nutrition that they provide, each having a bit different specifics in vitamins and microelements.

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803 · October 28, 2010 at 2:29 AM

see my answer above :)

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24523 · October 28, 2010 at 4:00 AM

I'm sorry, but you're both indisputably wrong. Or rather, I'm actually a bit wrong. Organs are usually mentioned for nutrients, but they also are mentioned in this argument against Cordain: "Eating animals didn't entail eating "lean" meat, because of the addition of marrow and organs". I'm the only person who's seen that around?

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803 · October 27, 2010 at 7:13 AM

From what I've seen, most organs are generally understood to be high protein, not high fat, and are more often touted for providing nutrients that may be lacking in muscle meat. Vitamin A in liver, for example. The degree to which the organs are cooked influences the vitamin content, of course.

Here's a good breakdown of the nutrients in calf's liver: http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=129

(The link does happen to say that it's high in saturated fat as well as protein - but that's from a Whole Foods fat-phobic standpoint.)

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