Chicken Liver: Are There Health Benefits?

Have you ever tried chicken liver? Many may balk at the idea of this unique dish, but chicken liver is an often overlooked source of healthful, low-calorie nutrition.

Chicken liver is actually a popular and integral part of some well-loved European, Asian, and Southern dishes. It isn’t pretty to look at, but it can taste delicious when cooked properly and is an excellent food to add to your repertoire.

Chicken liver is inexpensive, a great source of nutrients, versatile, and easy to cook. Rich with iron, folate, and a variety of vitamins and minerals, the food packs a powerful punch of health benefits.

Nutrition Information

Chicken liver is rich with essential fatty acids and protein. Chicken liver also contains:

1 tablespoon of chicken liver pate contains:

  • 26 calories
  • 2 grams of protein
  • 2 grams of fat
  • 1 gram of carbohydrates
  • 0 grams of fiber
  • 0 grams of sugar

Potential Health Benefits of Chicken Liver

Chicken liver is a rich source of protein. It also acts as a great choice when striving for a balanced diet.

Its health benefits include:

Weight management. Depending on how it’s cooked, chicken liver is a filling, low-calorie food. When simmered, the average serving of chicken liver has 73 calories. When it's served as a pate, it contains 26 calories.

If you’re looking to lose weight, avoid fried chicken liver, which packs 180 calories per serving and contains higher levels of sodium and fat — both of which can make heart disease and other complications more likely. With its low calorie count, chicken liver can aid in weight loss and help prevent obesity

Blood health. Your body’s red blood cells need iron and vitamins to transport oxygen and prevent conditions like anemia, which is when your body lacks the red blood cells they need. The condition depletes your body of oxygen and it can leave you feeling fatigued. With its iron and vitamin content, chicken liver can help combat vitamin B12 deficiency.

Heart health. Chicken liver contains selenium, a mineral that helps to prevent and manage cardiovascular conditions such as heart disease, stroke, and high cholesterol.

Organ health. Often called a “superfood,” chicken liver is packed to the brim with nutrients to keep your body healthy. Vitamin A helps protect your vision and eye health, strengthens your immune system, and helps organs like the kidneys and heart function properly. Vitamin B2, or riboflavin, helps your body make energy from food and keeps cells strong. Beyond contributing to blood health, vitamin B12 also helps your brain work better.

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Potential Risks of Chicken Liver

The amount of Vitamin A in chicken liver is too much for pregnant women. As such, women should avoid chicken liver throughout their pregnancy.

When improperly stored or prepared, chicken liver pate can cause food poisoning or infection. A bacteria known as campylobacters can grow and cause illness when chicken liver pate is not properly washed and heated.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on December 13, 2020

Sources

SOURCES:

ESHA Research, Inc., Salem, Oregon.

Food Additives and Contaminants: “A survey of vitamin A concentrations in the liver of food-producing animals.”

Food and Nutrition Research Vol. 59: “Role of poultry meat in a balanced diet aimed at maintaining health and wellbeing: an Italian consensus document.”

FoodData Central: “Chicken, liver, all classes, raw.”

Frontiers in Nutrition: “Vitamin B12 Intake From Animal Foods, Biomarkers, and Health Aspects.”

International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health:  “A Method for the Preparation of Chicken Liver Pâté that Reliably Destroys Campylobacters.” 

National Institutes of Health: “Riboflavin.”

National Institutes of Health: “Vitamin A.”

National Institutes of Health: “Vitamin B12.”

© 2020 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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