Beef Pancreas: Nutrition, Benefits, and Low-Carb Recipes

By Liam McAuliffe Updated on

Even among nose-to-tail eating enthusiasts, beef pancreas often gets overlooked. 

But the truth is that beef pancreas can be a worthy addition to any diet, and especially when incorporated into your keto or carnivore lifestyle. 

In this article, we’ll be looking at the benefits and nutrition of beef pancreas, and why you might want to consider adding beef pancreas to yours. 

What is Beef Pancreas?

Beef pancreas, as it sounds, is the pancreas of a young (veal) or mature cow, specifically when used as food. 

Ok, so what is a pancreas? It’s a small organ situated near the stomach that assists with digestion and blood sugar stabilization. A cow’s pancreas is also part of its endocrine system, since it releases digestive enzymes and hormones into the cow’s small intestine. [1]

Culinarily speaking, beef pancreas is categorized alongside the thymus gland as part of a cow’s sweetbreads

The pancreas is often referred to as the “heart sweetbread.” These organs are indeed slightly sweeter and more savory than muscle meat is. While beef pancreas isn’t all that popular in the US, sweetbreads are considered a delicacy in many South American countries. [2]

Of all sweetbreads, pancreas is the most desirable and best-tasting. Its unique collection of nutrients — including B vitamins and selenium — make it a true nutritional powerhouse. 

Beef Pancreas Nutrition

100 grams of pancreas delivers a robust nutrient profile at only 233 calories: 

Calories233 calories9%
Total Fat18.6 grams29%
Saturated Fat6.4 grams32%
Cholesterol205 mg68%
Sodium19 mg1%
Potassium276 mg8%
Total Carbohydrates0 mg0%
Protein15.7 g31%
Vitamin A0 IU0%
Vitamin D0 IU0%
Vitamin E0 IU0%
Vitamin K0 IU0%
Vitamin C3.9 mg4%
Calcium2.6 mg0%
Phosphorus92.7 mg13%
Iron0.6 mg4%
Thiamin0.04 mg3%
Riboflavin0.126 mg10%
Niacin1.26 mg8%
Pantothenic acid (B5)3.9 mg78%
Vitamin B60.057 mg4%
Vitamin B1214 mcg583%
Copper0.017 mg2%
Zinc0.73 mg7%
Selenium24.7 mcg45%

Vitamin B5

Just 100 grams of beef pancreas contains nearly all the vitamin B5 you need to get through the day. Eat a slightly larger serving, and you’ll reach your RDV with ease. 

B5, also called pantothenic acid, plays a crucial role in cholesterol synthesis. This endogenously-produced cholesterol can then be used to make youth-associated hormones like pregnenolone and DHEA. [3

Research has found that B5 has beneficial effects on the skin, too. Animal studies show that B5 can speed wound healing and recovery (especially if it’s used in conjunction with vitamin C). [4]

B5 deficiency, while rare, can cause chronic fatigue, sleeping problems, mood problems, neuropathy, and respiratory tract infections. [5]

B12

Beef pancreas is an excellent source of vitamin B12. Just one portion contains over 5 times your recommended daily value. Second to beef liver, beef pancreas is one of the best natural sources of B12 on the planet. 

B12 is one of the most important B vitamins. It assists with energy generation throughout the central nervous system and periphery. B12 even helps your body make DNA, the genetic material that’s present in all cells. Finally, B12 can be used to prevent some forms of anemia. [6][7]

Many elderly adults are deficient in B12 — and this deficiency heightens the risk of cancer, heart disease, and dementia. [8]

When your B12 levels are adequate, on the other hand, all sorts of benefits emerge. Mood rises, endurance improves, and metabolism speeds up. [9]

Selenium

Beef pancreas is a far better source of selenium than most animal products. While true selenium deficiencies are rare, even the slightest subclinical deficiencies can impair proper thyroid function and slow your metabolism. 

Maintaining adequate selenium levels is especially important for people who have pre-existing thyroid problems like hypothyroidism. 

Beef Pancreas Benefits

Beef pancreas benefits are numerous, though they’re aptly captured by the ancient belief that eating the organ(s) of an animal strengthens the corresponding organ(s) of the eater. AKA, like-supports-like. 

Modern science supports this ancient belief: “Radioisotope labeling studies in animals have shown conclusively that, when eaten, organs and glands selectively travel to the corresponding organs and glands in high concentrations,” explains naturopathic doctor Ron Schmid. “This research, done at the University of Scotland in Edinburgh, lends credence to the ancient practice of eating animal organs to help ensure health in one’s corresponding organs.” [10]

The beef pancreas-specific benefits of eating pancreas is evident in all the unique enzymes it contains. These pancreatic enzymes include: [11]

  • Lipase
  • Protease
  • Trypsin 
  • Amylase
  • Colipase

In addition to nourishing your own pancreas,  pancreatic extracts were used throughout the 30s and 40s to prevent and/or alleviate allergies. It’s thought that they do this by improving digestion. [12]

Sourcing Quality Beef Pancreas

Beef pancreas can be sourced from veal or fully mature cows. This organ meat can be somewhat hard to come by, but do your best to source from grass-fed, pastured animals. Asking around at your local farmer’s market or health food store may be the best way to find high-quality sweetbreads

If all else fails, an excellent way to get premium beef pancreas is via Dr. Kiltz’s Organ Meat Supplement.

This organ meat supplement contains liver, kidney, brain, heart, spleen, and pancreas from some of the most prized cattle in the world — pasture-raised New Zealand cows.

How to Cook Beef Pancreas

Once you get your hands on some fresh beef pancreas, these recipes will make cooking it easier than you might think.   

Sweetbread ‘tacos’

Sweetbreads often take the form of tacos in Spanish and Mexican cuisine. Here’s a street-style taco recipe. 

The ingredients

  • 1 pound of “heart” sweetbreads (pancreas)
  • 4 tablespoons of butter or ghee
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ¼ white onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ¼ cup chopped onion
  • Salsa & lime (optional)

The process

  • Place pancreas in a warm water bath, let sit 5 minutes, then drain.
  • Precook pancreas in a large saucepan with water, ¼ onion, cloves, and garlic. The water should cover the sweetbreads. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 15 minutes. 
  • Remove the pancreas from the cooking liquid. Drain the saucepan, then add your butter/ghee.
  • Chop sweetbreads into bite-sized cubes. 
  • Once the butter/ghee is hot, add the chopped sweetbreads back in and fry them until their outer skin is golden brown. 
  • Add salt and pepper to taste, then serve with fresh chopped onion, salsa, and lime! 

Sweetbreads Piccata

The ingredients

  • 1.2 pound veal sweetbreads
  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 cups water
  • Lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon capers
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 4 tablespoons butter or ghee
  • Salt and pepper to taste

The process

  1. Two days prior to cooking, place pancreas in a glass container, cover it with milk, and allow it to soak. 
  2. When you’re ready to get cooking, remove the pancreas from milk and wash it well. 
  3. Place pancreas in a pot, cover with salted water and lemon, and bring to a boil. Blanch for 5 minutes. 
  4. Remove pancreas and place them into an ice bath. 
  5. Slice cooled pancreas into circles, then place them on a flour-coated plate. Dredge well with flour, salt, and pepper. 
  6. Melt your butter/ghee in a large skillet and cook the pancreas until pieces are golden brown. 
  7. Remove from heat and cover with tin foil. 
  8. Whisk additional lemon juice, salt, pepper, and olive oil in a small bowl. Add capers to taste. 
  9. Place pancreas onto a serving plate, then drizzle with oil.

Beef Pancreas: The Takeaway

Beef pancreas may be underrated and somewhat hard to find, but it could be the missing link needed in your keto/carnivore routine. 

Consider giving pancreas a try via the recipes above — or, if all else fails, via Dr. Kiltz’s Premium Organ Meat Supplements. Your own pancreas will likely thank you. 

©2020 Doctor ROBERT KILTZ. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED