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Is Liverwurst Good for You? 7 Surprising Health Benefits

By Liam McAuliffe Updated on

If you’re back from a German holiday or looking to boost your organ meat intake on a nose-to-tail diet, you may be asking, “Is liverwurst good for you?” 

Liverwurst isn’t usually on the top of people’s healthy food list, but considering that it contains some of the most nutrient-dense ingredients on earth, maybe it should be. 

In this article, we’ll uncover the hidden health benefits of liverwurst, its nutritional profile, various ingredients, and the pluses and minuses of incorporating it into your diet. 

Table of Contents

What is Liverwurst? 

Horizontal view on wooden table full of curly liverwurst

Derived from the German words “Leber” (liver) and “Wurst” (sausage), liverwurst a type of sausage made from ground liver, typically of beef or pork, and sometimes from chicken liver or duck liver

Liverwurst is extremely popular in many European countries and varies greatly in terms of ingredients and textures. 

For example, some types of liverwurst are soft and spreadable like a pate. In contrast, others are as hard as summer sausage and eaten in slices. 

The blend of meats, proportions of liver and other organs, and spices also varies widely among regions and producers. 

Liverwurst Ingredients 

As the name implies, liverwurst is made from either, or a combination of, beef and pork liver, along with other organ meats like kidney and heart, scrap meats, and spices. 

Though liverwurst is named after the liver it contains, liver is actually a minority ingredient in most liverwurst recipes.=

To give you an idea of just how wide-ranging liverwurst ingredients are, let’s look at a few popular domestic varieties. 

Ingredients in U.S. Wellness Meats Liverwurst

The highest quality liverwurst we’ve found comes from U.S. Wellness Meats. It’s made from 

With water, sea salt, onion powder, white pepper, coriander, marjoram, and allspice.

Ingredients in Wellshire Farms Liverwurst

The liverwurst from another popular online purveyor, Wellshire Farms, contains unspecified amounts of pork liver, pork, non-fat dry milk, sea salt, spices, onion powder, and “natural flavors.” 

Ingredients in Dietz & Watson Liverwurst

Mass-produced and highly processed liverwurst from Dietz & Watson contains a long list of ingredients that includes fillers and preservatives: 

Pork Livers, Pork, Bacon (Cured With Water, Salt, Sugar, Sodium Phosphate, Sodium Erythorbate, Sodium Nitrite, Spice Extract), Salt, Contains Less Than 2% Of Nonfat Dry Milk, Corn Syrup, Water, Modified Corn Starch, Natural Flavors, Sodium Phosphate, Dextrose, Bacon Flavor (Pork, Natural Smoke Flavor, Mono and Diglycerides), Maltodextrin, Sodium Erythorbate, Sodium Nitrite.

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Liverwurst Nutrition

Closeup view with shallow depth of field on hands of a chef using tongs to prepare and grill sausages at a street food stall during farmers market.

As you might expect, the nutrition in liverwurst varies greatly depending on the ingredients used. The following stats are for USDA-standardized liverwurst made with pork. 

NutrientAmount per 100-gram serving% RDV
Saturated fat11gN/A
Cholesterol 153mg0%
Sodium860mg53% (N/A Keto/Carnivore)
Vitamin A 27667.0IU922%
Vitamin B12 13.5µg561%
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) 1.0mg79%
Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid)3mg55%
Vitamin B3 (Niacin) 4.3mg27%
Vitamin B1 (Thiamin) 0.3mg23%
Vitamin B6 0.2mg15%
Selenium 58.0µg105%
Iron 6.4mg36%
Copper 0.2mg26%
Phosphorus 230.0mg23%
Zinc 2.3mg16%
Tyrosine 0.4g39%

It’s likely that the liverwurst made with beef liver will be even more nutritious. Since beef liver is higher in these essential nutrients than pork liver, it will have greater concentrations of vitamins A, E, K2, and B12, 

Is Liverwurst Good for You? Potential Health Benefits

As with all foods, the greatest health benefits of liverwurst will come from sausages made with the highest quality ingredients. In this case, this means meat and organs from grass-fed animals combined with the least amount of additives and preservatives. 

But even conventional liverwurst is far more nutritious than most other processed foods. That said, processed varieties should be enjoyed only once in a while. While higher-quality liverwurst can make a regular appearance on your table. 

In general, the benefits of liverwurst track with the benefits of its namesake–liver!

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1. Increased Energy and Stamina

Since time immemorial, liver has been prized for its energizing and stamina-boosting effects. 

Then in 1975, an experiment published in Prevention Magazine thrust this liver’s so-called “X-factor” into the limelight. The “X” in this case, refers to the fact that the exact compounds behind the energizing effects are still unknown. And as the experiment shows, these effects are not a result of the remarkably high vitamin B levels in liver, as was once thought. 

In the experiment, three groups of rats were subjected to an endurance test– swimming in a barrel of water. Yes, cruel, yet very revealing. 

One group of rats wasn’t fed anything. A second group was fed B vitamins. A third group was fed powdered liver. 

Rats in the no-food group swam for an average of 13.3 minutes. 

Rats fed B vitamins did slightly better, swimming for an average of 13.4 minutes. 

The twelve rats fed liver did a whole lot better. One swam for 63 minutes. Another for 83 minutes. And another for 87 minutes. And these were the weaklings.  The remaining nine rats were still swimming when the test ended after 2 hours (120 minutes).  

2. Supports Mental Health and Cognition 

With 561% of your RDV of vitamin B12, liverwurst is a highly concentrated source of this essential vitamin that happens to be a powerful antidepressant. 

In a randomized control trial from 2013, researchers found that supplementation of Vitamin B12 significantly improved symptoms of depression.  

Liverwurst also provides a decent amount of zinc, another nutrient shown to provide antidepressant effects.

Various nutrients in liverwurst have been found to support cognitive function, including:

  • Selenium
  • Copper
  • Niacin (Vitamin B3)
  • B12
  • Choline
  • Iron

Selenium levels have been shown to decrease with age and are believed to factor in declines in cognitive function.

Copper has also been shown to support cognition up to a specific inflection point.

Niacin (B3) has also been shown to support cognitive functioning, while a deficiency can lead to memory impairment.

graph showing how vitamin B deficiency leads to depression

Source: Sangle P, Sandhu O, Aftab Z, Anthony AT, Khan S. Vitamin B12 Supplementation: Preventing Onset and Improving Prognosis of Depression. Cureus. 2020

3. Supports Bone and Dental Health

Beef liver is one of the world’s most abundant sources of vitamin K2, while goose liver is the very best, with over 300% RDV per 100-gram serving. Liverwurst made from either of these liver sources will be a fantastic k2 boost. 

If you haven’t heard of k2 you’re not alone. Its properties have only recently been elucidated, but its importance to numerous bodily functions is profound. 

K2 gets calcium out of your arteries and into your bone and teeth tissues, significantly reducing the risk of heart disease and osteoporosis.

A large study on postmenopausal women–a population at high risk of osteoporosis–found that K2 supplementation significantly reduced age-related bone mineral density loss.

4. Supports Eye, Skin, and Fertility Health

Liver, and therefore liverwurst, is incredibly high in a type of readily useable Vitamin A called retinol: 922% per 100-gram serving. 

The vitamin A retinol in liver is far superior to the type found in plant foods like carrots–which is only a carotenoid precursor. 55% of the population can utilize only a very small amount of carotenoids, while 45% of people lack the gene to convert and use any of it at all. The idea that carrots are good for your eyes is simply a myth.

This makes the Vitamin A in liver and other animal-based foods critical for supporting healthy vision and protecting the eyes against inflammation and degradation.

Vitamin A is also essential for healthy skin, physical growth, and fertility.

In addition to vitamin A, the zinc in liverwurst helps support eye function by further reducing degenerative oxidation and inflammation.

5. Supports Immune Function

The potent combination of Vitamins B12, K2, and vitamin A and zinc in liverwurst supports immune function and significantly regulates inflammation. . Clin Calcium. 2005 Apr;15(4):605-10. Japanese. PMID: 15802772.”/]

6. Promotes Heart Health

Liverwurst has an optimal omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acid ratio, which can help reduce inflammation, balance cholesterol levels, and reduce the risk of heart disease.

7. Supports Liver Health

It might sound counterintuitive, but consuming liverwurst can actually support liver health. 

The liver in Liverwurst provides various organ-specific enzymes. One in particular, called cytochrome P450, has been shown to support hormone production, liver detoxification, and healthy liver function.

How Often Should You Eat Liverwurst? 

Liverwurst is good for you up to a point. Because liverwurst is extremely high in vitamin A, it’s important to limit how often you eat it in order to avoid vitamin A overdose. 

Unlike water-soluble vitamins like B12, which your body flushes out when you’ve had more than enough, vitamin A is fat-soluble. This means that it can accumulate in your body fat, including in your liver, leading to organ damage and birth defects. 

To get the benefits of liverwurst without any unwanted side effects, consume 100 grams of liverwurst 1-3 times per week. 

Downsides of Liverwurst? 

As we’ve seen, liverwurst can be incredibly nutritious and remarkably good for you. 

However, many types of sausage, including liverwurst, can be highly processed and include unhealthy and low-quality ingredients like preservatives, fillers, organ meats contaminated with heavy metals, and artificial flavorings. 

This makes it important to select unprocessed liverwurst, ideally made from grass-fed animals. 

Your local farmer’s market is at the top of the list of places to look for additive-free, highly nutritious liverwurst

Is Liverwurst Good for You? The Bottom Line

Liverwurst made from high-quality ingredients, especially grass-fed organ meats, is surprisingly good for you. 

Boasting over 900% of your vitamin A, over 500% of B12 per serving, and robust amounts of many other essential nutrients, liverwurst provides the benefits of eating liver in a highly palatable and convenient format. 

The key to making liverwurst good for you and avoiding the downsides is to choose the highest quality, least processed sausages, and to consume liverwurst no more than 3 times per week to avoid getting too much vitamin A. 

Guten appetit!

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