We include products in articles we think are useful for our readers. If you buy products or services through links on our website, we may earn a small commission.
Beef Kidney: Nutrition, Benefits, and Recipe
Table of Contents
Beef kidney is a true superfood rich in B vitamins, iron, and trace minerals. Yet, all too often beef kidney flies under the radar.
This article aims to change that. We’ll explore beef kidney’s nutritional status and health benefits whether you eat it fresh or as a convenient organ meat supplement. 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. 
Humans have been eating beef kidneys since time immemorial.
Beef Kidney Nutrition
Beef kidney is an organ meat 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 — a compound that may promote the kidney health of people who ingest it. 
|Beef Kidney: Raw|
|Based on 100 grams|
Vitamin A IU
Vitamin D IU
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, promotes healthy skin and eyes. 
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). 
Ensuring adequate B6 intake is a great way to support your cognitive capabilities as you age. One analysis from the Boston Normative Aging Study found an association between higher vitamin B6 concentrations and better memory in men aged 54–81. 
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 may experience noticeable energizing effects from eating kidney.
In addition, many people experience improvements in mood and sleep patterns from B12. 
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. 
Iron also supports metabolic and fascial health, physical growth, and the production of certain hormones.  Dietary iron comes in two forms, and beef kidney contains the more absorbable of the two known as heme iron. 
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. 
Riboflavin (168% RDV)
Riboflavin, or vitamin B2, is among the many important B vitamins.
Adequate riboflavin levels can also help prevent DNA damage and protect against carcinogens. 
Beef Kidney Health Benefits
The impressive nutritional profile of beef kidney may support numerous physiological functions. These include:
- Natural fertility
- Improved vision
- Increased energy
- Growth and development
- Improved body composition
- Kidney-specific benefits
As we mentioned above, kidney contains a rare amino acid ergothioneine, which promotes fertility.  The omega-3 fatty acids in beef kidney may also increase fertility via their anti-inflammatory properties.
But perhaps the most important fertility supporting compound 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. 
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. 
As an added plus, the preformed vitamin A in kidney is also great for your skin. 
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: 
- 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.”  Perhaps we should still be giving beef kidney to our children today!
Improved Body Composition
Kidney is rich enough in complete proteins to be highly satiating. Studies show that protein can lengthen your time between meals and make it easier to cut back on calories. 
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.  Suet is also a great source of stearic acid, a special fat that may lower bodyweight by helping your mitochondria use fat in the production of cellular energy. 
Finally, the B vitamins in beef kidney may also improve your body composition by helping mobilize calories and turn them into usable energy. 
Sourcing Quality Beef Kidney
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.  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
- 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
- Trim/pull the white lining off of the kidney
- Cut the kidney into 1-inch cubes
- Let the cubes soak in a mixture of cold water and lemon juice for 2 hours
- Pat cubes dry, season with salt and pepper, then coat in flour
- Heat the butter/ghee on high heat. Once it’s hot, add the cubes of kidney
- Remove the kidney from the pan once it’s cooked through
- Add garlic, coriander, and extra butter to the pan. Cook until garlic turns golden brown
- Add the kidney back in, then add a little more lemon juice
- Sizzle together for 30 seconds, until coated.
Beef Kidney: The Takeaway
It’s delicious, it’s nutritious, and it has the backing of thousands of years of tried-and-true dietary love from traditional cultures around the world!
Modern science tells us that beef kidney may offer a wide variety of essential vitamins, minerals, and hard-to-find nutrients.
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.