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Beef Kidney: Nutrition, Benefits, and Recipe

By Thomas Wrona Updated on

Table of Contents

Beef Kidney: Nutrition, Benefits, and Recipe

Beef kidney is a true superfood rich in B vitamins, iron, and trace minerals. Yet, all too often beef kidney flies under the radar of most people.  

This article aims to change that. We’ll explore beef kidney’s nutritional status and health benefits. And we’ll help you reap these benefits with an easy-to-follow recipe that makes eating kidney convenient and tasty. 

What is Beef Kidney?

As you might expect, beef kidney is simply the kidney of a cow. 

The kidneys of a cow serve as a type of filter, removing extra fluids from the body and keeping the pH balanced in a healthy range. As it happens, a cow’s kidneys are also hugely helpful to us. [1

Humans have been eating beef kidneys since time immemorial.

Beef Kidney Nutrition

Beef kidney is rich in vitamin B12, selenium, and heme iron. It also offers decent amounts of copper and zinc. 

As part of the like-supports-like properties of many organ meats, kidney contains the rare amino acid, L-ergothioneine — this compound promotes the kidney health of people who ingest it! [2

Beef Kidney: Raw
Based on 100 grams
Calories99
Fat3.1g
Protein17.4g
Net Carbs0.3g
VITAMINS%Daily Value
Vitamin A

Vitamin A IU 

Vitamin B6 

Vitamin B12 

Vitamin C 

Vitamin D 

Vitamin D IU 

Vitamin D3 

Vitamin E 

Thiamine 

Riboflavin

Niacin 

Folate 

419μg

1397IU

0.7mg

27.5μg

9.4mg

1.1μg

45IU

1.1μg

0.2mg

0.4mg

2.8mg

8mg

98μg

47%

52%

1146%

16%

8%

2%

24%

168%

41%

25%

MINERALS
Calcium 

Iron 

Magnesium 

Phosphorus 

Zinc 

Copper 

Manganese 

Selenium 

Retinol 

Lycopene 

13mg

4.6mg

17mg

257mg

1.9mg

0.4mg

0.1mg

141μg

419μg

20μg

2%

58%

5%

26%

13%

22%

8%

202%

Of all the nutrients kidney offers, the six vitamins and minerals below are it’s top highlights: 

  • Vitamin A (47% RDV)
  • Vitamin B6 (52% RDV)
  • Vitamin B12 (1146%)
  • Iron (58% RDV)
  • Selenium (202% RDV)
  • Riboflavin (168% RDV)

Vitamin A (47% RDV)

Beef kidney is a great source of vitamin A, coming in at 419 micrograms per moderate-sized serving. Vitamin A, in turn, works wonders for your skin and eye health. [3

Vitamin B6 (52% RDV)

Vitamin B6 is a water-soluble B vitamin that’s found in many foods, especially animal products (the B6 in fruits and vegetables exists in a less bioavailable form). [4]

People with autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis often have low vitamin B6 concentrations. While people with alcohol dependence are often depleted of B6, too.  If you’re  struggling with or recovering from alcohol abuse you may do well to supplement with vitamin B6 — or beef kidney. [5]

Ensuring adequate B6 intake is also a great way to reduce your chance of developing cognitive decline as you get older. One analysis from the Boston Normative Aging Study found an association between higher vitamin B6 concentrations and better memory in men aged 54–81. [6]

Vitamin B12 (1146%)

After beef liver, beef kidney might just be nature’s best source of vitamin B12. A single serving contains virtually all the B12 you’ll need for over a week!

Vitamin B12 assists with energy generation on the most fundamental level–that’s why you’ll likely experience noticeable energizing effects from eating kidney. 

In addition, many people experience improvements in mood and sleep patterns from B12. [7

Iron (52% RDV) 

Iron is a naturally-occurring mineral that’s found in foods, other organic substances, and your bloodstream. Iron plays a crucial role in the formation of hemoglobin and myoglobin– proteins that deliver oxygen from your lungs into other tissues. [8][9]

It also supports metabolic and fascial health, physical growth, and the production of certain hormones. [10][11] Dietary iron comes in two forms, and beef kidney contains the more absorbable of the two. [12

Selenium (202% RDV)  

Selenium is a trace mineral that’s found in many foods. It’s also a popular dietary supplement. 

Along with iodine, selenium is needed for your thyroid gland to maintain a healthy metabolic rate. A selenium-replete thyroid also does a better job producing the “youth-associated” hormones (pregnenolone, progesterone, and DHEA). Selenium is more densely concentrated in your thyroid than in any other part of the body, in fact. [13]

Riboflavin (168% RDV) 

Riboflavin, or vitamin B2, is among the many important B vitamins. 

While riboflavin deficiency is very rare in the Western world, even subclinical deficiencies can lead to skin problems, edema, hair loss, infertility, and other problems. Running low on B2 can even damage your nervous system. [14][15]

Adequate riboflavin levels, on the other hand, can help prevent DNA damage and protect against carcinogens. [16

Beef Kidney Health Benefits 

The impressive nutritional profile of beef kidney means good things for several facets of your health. Top benefits include: 

  • Natural fertility
  • Improved vision
  • Increased energy
  • Growth and development
  • Improved body composition
  • Kidney-specific benefits

Natural fertility

As we mentioned above, kidney contains a rare amino acid ergothioneine, which promotes fertility. [17] The omega-3 fatty acids in beef kidney may also increase fertility via their anti-inflammatory properties. 

But perhaps the most important fertility booster in beef kidney is folate. Folate is an important B vitamin that’s especially important for pregnant mothers — a growing baby requires lots of it. Folate deficiencies during pregnancy increase a child’s risk of neural tube defects, neurological problems, and more. [18]

Improved Vision

Beef kidney is rich enough in vitamin A to be great for your vision. The right amount of vitamin A may maintain healthy vision by helping ocular cells differentiate into their proper roles. [19]

As an added plus, the preformed vitamin A in kidney is also great for your skin. [20]

Increased Energy

Beef kidney contains large amounts of vitamin B12 and other energy-mobilizing B vitamins. These B vitamins act as catalysts for all sorts of health benefits, including: [21]

  • Energy generation
  • Cellular function and division
  • Healthy functioning of the nervous system

Growth and Development

Kidneys contain a variety of both well-known and as yet to be studied nutrients that may play a role in the growth and development of children. 

In the absence of clear research findings, the ways our ancestors viewed kidney is telling. “The kidneys are usually given to children,” Arctic explorer Vilhjalmur Stefansson detailed in his fascinating book The Fat of the Land, “somewhat as if they were candy.” [22] Perhaps we should still be giving beef kidney to our children today! 

Improved Body Composition

Kidney is rich enough in complete protein to be highly satiating. Studies show that protein can lengthen your time between meals and make it easier to cut back on the calories. [23]

Bonus points if you also have access to the fat that surrounds a cow’s kidneys, which is called suet. Suet is very saturated — 60-70% saturated by the most accurate estimates. [24] Suet is also a great source of stearic acid, a special fat that seems to lower bodyweight by helping your mitochondria burn fat. [25]

Finally, the B vitamins in beef kidney may also improve your body composition by helping mobilize calories and turn them into usable energy. [26]

Kidney-specific benefits

In yet another example of nature’s wisdom, eating beef kidney provides us with kidney-specific health benefits. Kidney contains rare amino acids that can make it easier for our own kidneys to do their jobs. 

Sourcing Quality Beef Kidney

Do you know your local butcher yet? A knowledgeable butcher can play a vital role in supplying you with everything you need for your keto or carnivore diet

Ask your butcher if they carry grass-fed beef –it’s usually more nutritious than other options. 

Grass-fed beef kidney is likely to contain higher levels of stearic acid, conjugated linoleic acid, omega 3’s, and other beneficial nutrients than grain-fed alternatives. 

One study found that grass-fed beef was 36% higher in stearic acid than grain-fed beef. [27] This is important because stearic acid activates the mitochondria (energy centers) of your cells, resulting in a host of benefits from improved weightloss, to reduced risk of heart disease and cancer.2

How to Cook Beef Kidney

For something as nutritious, affordable, and uncommon as beef kidney, it can be surprisingly tasty. The recipe below should help you transform kidney into a dish that you and all your (meat-eating) guests enjoy.

Simple Coconut Caribbean Beef Kidney

Ingredients

  • 1 pound beef kidney
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup coconut flour
  • 1 cup butter or ghee
  • 3 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons coriander (ground)
  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 5 minutes
  • Instructions
  1. Trim/pull the white lining off of the kidney
  2. Cut the kidney into 1-inch cubes
  3. Let the cubes soak in a mixture of cold water and lemon juice for 2 hours
  4. Pat cubes dry, season with salt and pepper, then coat in flour
  5. Heat the butter/ghee on high heat. Once it’s hot, add the cubes of kidney
  6. Remove the kidney from the pan once it’s cooked through
  7. Add garlic, coriander, and extra butter to the pan. Cook until garlic turns golden brown
  8. Add the kidney back in, then add a little more lemon juice 
  9. Sizzle together for 30 seconds, until coated.

Beef Kidney: The Takeaway

Beef kidney is one of the best organ meats to incorporate into your low carb or keto diet

It’s delicious, it’s nutritious, and it’s got thousands of years of tried-and-true dietary love from traditional cultures around the world! 

Modern science tells us why: Beef kidney is a true superfood that offers a wide variety of essential vitamins, minerals, and hard-to-find nutrients. Try kidney for yourself — if you haven’t already.  

But, if you’re still squeamish about preparing organ meats, or just don’t have the time to cook for yourself, organ meat supplements can be a convenient alternative. 

 

©2020 Doctor ROBERT KILTZ. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED