If you enjoy the bold flavor of liver, you certainly get a hefty dose of key vitamins and minerals when you have a serving. Though an occasional serving of lamb or calf liver can be quite nutritious, liver also contains a large amount of cholesterol. Knowing how the two types of liver compare will also help you choose which variety deserves a place in your diet.
Calories, Fat and Protein
A 3.5-ounce serving of lamb liver contains 220 calories and 8.8 grams of fat, of which 3.4 grams are saturated. The same amount of calf liver has 191 calories and 5.3 grams of fat, of which 1.7 grams are saturated. Watching your saturated fat intake can help reduce your risk of heart disease and weight gain. The serving of lamb liver delivers 30.6 grams of protein, while calf liver provides 29 grams. Protein is essential for survival and also helps fuel your body so you can be physically active. Women should aim to have about 46 grams of protein each day.
Liver is a nutritional powerhouse in terms of B vitamins, which help convert your food into energy. A 3.5-ounce serving of lamb liver contains 4 milligrams of riboflavin, which is almost four times the 1.1 milligrams you need each day. The same serving has 12.2 milligrams of niacin, another B vitamin that supports the health of your nervous system. That's 87 percent of the 14 milligrams you should have each day. You'll also get 75.6 micrograms of vitamin B-12, which is significantly more than the 2.4 micrograms you need each day as part of your healthy eating plan. A 3.5-ounce serving of calf liver provides 3.4 milligrams of riboflavin, 17.5 milligrams of niacin and 70.6 micrograms of vitamin B-12. Both types of liver also supply more than the 2,333 international units of vitamin A you need each day in one 3.5-ounce serving.
A 3.5-ounce serving of lamb liver delivers 8.3 milligrams of iron, a mineral that helps your body absorb oxygen. That's about 46 percent of the 18 milligrams you should have each day. You'll also get 7.9 milligrams of zinc, which is slightly less than the 8 milligrams you need on a daily basis. Zinc is crucial for proper wound healing and it also promotes healthy immunity. You'll also get 420 milligrams of phosphorus from a serving of lamb liver. That's 60 percent of the 700 milligrams you should include in your daily diet to support the health of your bones and teeth. A 3.5-ounce serving of calf liver contains 6.5 milligrams of iron, 5.3 milligrams of zinc and 497 milligrams of phosphorus.
A diet high in cholesterol can contribute to an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. One way to prevent high cholesterol is to limit how much red meat and other animal foods you consume. You should limit your cholesterol intake to 300 milligrams or less per day, says the Mayo Clinic, and if you're following a low-cholesterol diet, reduce the amount to no more than 200 milligrams each day. A 3.5-ounce serving of lamb liver contains 501 milligrams of cholesterol and the same amount of calf liver has 396 milligrams. If you must have liver, eat a smaller portion to keep your cholesterol intake lower.
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Lamb, Variety Meats and By-Products, Liver, Cooked, Braised
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Beef, Variety Meats and By-Products, Liver, Cooked, Braised
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Iron
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Zinc
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Phosphorus
- MedlinePlus: Riboflavin
- MedlinePlus: Niacin
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Vitamin B12
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Vitamin A
- MayoClinic.com: High Cholesterol
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