Like many people, you may never have eaten chicken liver. Often used in pate, chicken liver can also be pan-fried for an iron- and protein-rich meal. A 100g serving of chicken liver provides more than half of the dietary reference intake, or DRI, for iron. Dietary reference intakes are recommended daily amounts for each nutrient.
Calories and Protein
A 100g serving, which is about 3.5 oz., of pan-fried chicken liver contains 172 calories, more than 100 of which come from protein. One serving of chicken liver contains 25.8g of protein, which provides more than 40 percent of the DRI for protein. Chicken liver is a complete protein because it contains all of the essential amino acids, which are those that your body cannot produce.
Not only does chicken liver contain all nine of the essential amino acids, it also contains large amounts of many of these amino acids. According to the World Health Organization’s recommendations for a 175 lb. adult, one serving of chicken liver provides over 100 percent of the minimum daily requirement for phenylalanine. Phenylalanine assists in the production of dopamine and norepinephrine, which are neurotransmitters that affect mood and memory. One serving of chicken liver also provides more than 50 percent of the requirement for all other essential amino acids.
Fat and Cholesterol
One serving of chicken liver contains 6.4g of fat, 2g of which are saturated fat. This is less than 10 percent of the maximum recommended amount of both fat and saturated fat for an adult consuming 2,000 calories per day. However, chicken liver may still not be a healthy choice if you are at risk for heart disease, since one serving contains 564mg of cholesterol, which is almost twice the maximum recommended amount. Cholesterol should be ingested in limited amounts because it can lead to plaque on artery walls.
Iron and Other Minerals
Although chicken livers may not be a nutritious choice for those with heart disease, you may choose to eat them for their high mineral content, especially if you are iron-deficient. One serving of chicken liver provides more than 100 percent of the DRI for men and 72 percent for women. Iron is essential for the formation of hemoglobin, which carries oxygen throughout the body. One serving of chicken liver also supplies 63 percent of the DRI of phosphorus, more than 50 percent of copper, more than 30 percent of zinc and more than 100 percent of selenium.
Chicken livers also supply large amounts of many vitamins. One serving supplies more than 100 percent of the DRI for vitamin A and four of the B vitamins -- folate, pantothenic acid, riboflavin and B12. One serving also provides more than 50 percent of the DRI for choline, vitamin B6 and niacin, which are also water-soluble B vitamins. Vitamin A supports the eyes and immune system. B vitamins assist in the health of the nervous system, liver, brain and muscles.
- World Health Organization: Protein and Amino Acid Requirements in Human Nutrition
- "Prescription for Nutritional Healing"; Phyllis A. Balch, CNC; 2006
- Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion: Nutritional Goals
- Medline Plus: Iron in Diet
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: Nutrient Data: Chicken Liver