Beef heart for healthy skin? (Or, CoQ10…and where to find it).

I do not have naturally flawless skin.
I have lovely skin that I worked my tush off to get over the course of several years; a process that involved many detours, mistakes, and lots of disappointment.
Sometimes, when I take my eye off the ball, my skin tries to get naughty again. When I finished my book, and the chronic stress of oh my gawd book edits will I ever sleep again co-incided with the sudden realization that oh my gawd I’m an introvert who now has to promote a book FEAR AND CHOCOLATE … I had a nice little stress-induced flare-up. I won’t lie. I was like a Cathy comic, I swear.

(As I explain in Purely Primal Skincare Guide, stress has a profound impact on the skin, for a few key reasons.)
Being pre-disposed to poor skin is something that doesn’t just go away. But it can be controlled, and even “sent to remission.” I’ve pulled out all my Purely Primal Skincare Guide tricks, and then some (the patience trick is my least favorite) to get myself back on track.
Having nice skin when you don’t naturally have nice skin is WORK. It doesn’t happen by accident.
It happens by smart nutrition, a healthy digestive system, managed stress, and nourishing topical care.
Today, let’s talk smart nutrition; in particular, let’s talk about CoQ10, a little-known nutrient for healthy skin. While there are lots of nutrients that are vital for skin health – zinc, vitamin A, vitamin D and vitamin K2 come to mind – CoQ10 is one most of us don’t think about. It’s actually not a nutrient in the way we traditionally think about nutrients; it’s not a vitamin, but an enzyme that the body produces on its own. Production degrades greatly over time, though, making dietary sources important. Lucky for us, it can also be obtained through food.
Even the realest-Real-Food-devotee might not get the CoQ10-rich foods too often, however, because it’s present in foods many of us aren’t used to eating.
Here’s what I’m getting at: CoQ10 is mostly available from organ meats, like beef liver and heart, and is most rich (in fact, it was first discovered) in beef heart.

beef heart in paper closeup

<<Skeevie Heebie Jeebies>>
Can you just skip the beef heart and supplement with CoQ10? It’s not my favorite strategy. I think it’s best to seek the whole food source. My research has convinced me of one key thing: nutrients occur together in real food for a reason. The nutrients end up being of greater value together than apart.
It’s the First Law of the Six-Sigma Retreat To Move Forward: Synergy.
Never mock synergy.
Here’s why you might really really want to think about that beef heart:

  • CoQ10 supports cellular health by serving as an anti-oxidant – it literally protects our cells from aging prematurely thanks to environmental insults. Anti-oxidants are critical components in skincare (vitamin C, an important skincare nutrient, is an anti-oxidant; as are the fat-soluble vitamins).
  • CoQ10 is a main component in the cellular generation of energy. The skin is incredibly energetically demanding; therefore, CoQ10 is a critical part of providing cells with the energy they need. Running the skin without adequate CoQ10 is like growing a garden without adequate water or giving a speech to the Six Sigmas without a pre-presentation pep talk.
  • CoQ10 protects against the breakdown of collagen (y’know, that fibrous tissue we also support by eatin’ lots of this)…
  • …and it also supports the body’s creation of hyaluronic acid, which helps the skin stay plump and hydrated.

You can purchase beef heart from your local farmer or through US Wellness Meats (if you know another online retailer, let me know in the comments). We get ours from our local farmer when we get our “Cowshare.”
Most cooking methods other than frying will maintain CoQ10 content of beef heart.
My favorite trick: grinding or grating some heart into chili. I’ll also combine a few cups of broth, some onion and carrot in the pressure cooker with cubes of beef heart and cooking it for around 45 minutes.
Here are a few more beef heart recipes to try:

Paleo in Comparison’s Crock Pot Beef Heart 
Kristens Raw Heart Stew (Kristen is raw, not the heart!)
Michael Ruhlman’s Grilled Beef Heart with Herbed Vinaigrette

Would you eat beef heart? Do you eat beef heart? Leave your thoughts, suggestions or recipes in the comments!
For more in-depth information and strategies for healthy skin, check out Purely Primal Skincare Guide!
Thanks for reading!
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Liz Wolfe, NTP

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20 Responses

  1. Liz-
    I have had a hard time getting beef heart in, but I keep trying it because it is so nutrient dense.
    My current favorite way is to grind it up with meatballs. I can never really taste it then.
    Hopefully it starts to agree with my palate!
    Dominic

  2. I tried it for the first time this winter using Paleo Mom’s Hearty Beef Stew recipe. Very good! Grilled Heart sounds intriguing and I’d also like to try it stuffed 🙂

  3. Dang I just put my beef heart in the dehydrator for dog treats. They do love it!!!! I will have to try it for myself!

  4. I so badly want to find a way to eat organ meats on a daily basis. I have tried pastured chicken liver pate, marinated chicken hearts and frozen liver pills. I was fascinated and horrified at the liver and egg shots; envious that you are successful with that. I can’t eat eggs due to an autoimmune disorder. I may try blending my frozen liver chunks with cherries. I saw a fresh pork heart at my Minneapolis co op this weekend, wanted to buy it but just couldn’t go through with it. I had nightmares about the heart that night . At least yours looks pretty with the herb on it. I will keep trying; Sean Croxton has a podcast this week about it. I think grinding it and making chili or meatballs is great. Maybe the co op butcher would grind it for me. Thanks for a provocative and encouraging post.

  5. Well I was intrigued as the side of Grass Fed ONLY Beef we got this past fall is down to soup bones(broth/veggie beef soup), beef liver, and you guessed it, beef heart! So I was thinking of using part in the crock pot and have pancakes ready in case no one likes it, and the rest in a meatball, since I can always spice it up! Well, here I go trying something new!! Eating heart kinda reminds me of the Indiana Jones Movie, Temple of Doom where the guy collects hearts……creepy! LOL!

  6. I used beef heart (purchased from U.S. Wellness Meats) to make crock pot chili. My family and I liked it a lot. It was the preparation that grossed me out. I’m trying to build up the courage to buy & make it again but I’m struggling! Your post is definitely motivating! Thanks!

  7. Liz, thanks for this post, and the ideas. I have a beefheart in the freezer… From my last cowshare.
    And, ok, why is Alec Baldwin on the picture that shows up in my Feedly app? 🙂

  8. Forgive my ignorance, but when you say frying do you mean deep frying? Could you quickly cook with lard in a skillet and preserve the CoQ10?

  9. I just had beef heart for lunch! Roasted and thinly sliced in a cold salad with roasted cauliflower and red bell pepper, tons of green herbs, and a lemony cumin-and-sumac dressing. Out of the package, beef heart is a bit scary, even when it’s already cleaned (how I get it from the farmer’s market), because OMG enormous, and when you see all the cuts that have been made to remove … the connective works, it drives home that this once was a very busy working organ. But cooked, it looks and tastes just like regular roastbeefy goodness.

  10. Hi Liz, I actually really love beef heart. Even though its considered offal, its role as a muscle within the body lends it to a much more palatable texture than liver — the liver is what I grind up and hide. Lately I’ve been braising heart low and slow with lots of onions, garlic, bone broth, bacon and red wine: basically all of my favorite things ever. Would probably work well in the pressure cooker! xo, Erin

  11. How about getting it through liverwurst? I order some from US Wellness Meats and the beef liverwurst contains heart, kidney, liver, and beef. It’s actually really good and it’s ready to eat right then and there. Couldn’t be easier.

  12. We tried beef heart once and loved how it turned out but my husband got so ragey trimming all of the vessels, etc. off that he said we could only have it again on a very special occasion, if ever. It was a pain and really time consuming. Can you skip that step if you’re grinding the meat?

    1. I’m not sure, but I would think so! I’m supposed to get my meat grinder fairly soon – I will try it and report back!

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