What Is Liverwurst and Is It Good For You?

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Liverwurst is a traditional meat-based sausage that is otherwise known as ‘liver sausage.’

However, meat is not the only ingredient, and this German sausage contains a variety of ingredients.

In this article, we will provide a guide to precisely what liverwurst is.

Additionally, we’ll look at how to eat it, and the potential health benefits and drawbacks – is it good for you?

What Is Liverwurst?

A Traditional Liverwurst German Sausage.

Liverwurst is a seasoned and spreadable meat-based product that comes in the shape of a sausage.

Originating in Germany, liverwurst is particularly famous across Europe, and it is widely available throughout the world.

Liverwurst typically comes in two main varieties; one has a firmer (but very soft) texture, and it is sliceable.

The other form of liverwurst is spreadable, and it looks somewhat similar to pâté. You can use it like you would any other spread.

What Is In Liverwurst?

Liverwurst is made of three primary ingredients; meat, organ meat, and fat.

These ingredients are usually from either beef or pork.

Generally speaking, the primary organ meat is liver (hence the product’s name). However, liverwurst may include other organ meats such as heart or kidney.

(See here for a full guide to the nutrition benefits of each organ meat.)

Additionally, there are several seasonings used in liverwurst, and these can vary depending on the specific recipe.

Most liverwurst contains salt, black pepper, and onion powder, but you may also find any of the following ingredients;

  • Allspice
  • Coriander
  • Marjoram
  • Mustard seed
  • Nutmeg
  • Thyme
  • White pepper

How Is It Made?

The production of liverwurst is very straightforward, and it merely involves grinding and mixing various proportions of meat, organ meat, fat, and seasonings and putting them into a sausage casing.

As previously mentioned, the exact ingredients (and quantities) in each liverwurst sausage will depend on the specific recipe.

Key Point: Liverwurst is a spreadable sausage and it contains meat, organ meats, fat, and various seasonings.

Is Liverwurst Good For You?

Since liverwurst contains organ meats—primarily liver—it is very nutrient-dense.

In the next section, we will examine five nutrition benefits of liverwurst.

1) An Excellent Source of Complete Protein

Liverwurst contains slightly over 14 grams of protein per 100 g (1).

Furthermore, since the source of the protein is muscle and organ meats, liverwurst offers a ‘complete’ source of protein.

Complete proteins are found in foods which supply sufficient concentrations of the nine essential amino acids (2).

Since liverwurst also contains added fat and numerous seasonings, it does not offer the same protein content as meat in general.

However, it is still fairly protein-rich in addition to all its other benefits.

Key Point: Liverwurst provides around 14 grams of protein per 100 gram.

2) Extremely High In Vitamin B12 (and Other B Vitamins)

A Type of German Speciality Liverwurst.

Liverwurst provides an exceptional source of vitamin B12, with 100 grams supplying 224% of the reference daily intake (RDI) (1).

Vitamin B12 is an essential mineral that we require to stay in good health.

Among its many functions, vitamin B12 plays a contributory role in red blood cell and DNA formation, and it helps us to maintain a healthy nervous system (3).

The best sources of B12 are organ meats and shellfish, and as liverwurst contains the former, it supplies a significant amount.

In addition to B12, liverwurst provides the full range of B vitamins, and it offers high concentrations of B2 and B5.

Key Point: Liverwurst is a substantial source of vitamin B12 and it contains every B vitamin.

3) A Significant Source of Retinol (Vitamin A)

Many foods contain “vitamin A,” but not all of them offer retinol. Retinol is the pre-formed version of vitamin A, which our body can use in its natural state.

In comparison, carotenoids (found in plant foods like carrots and sweet potatoes) need converting to retinol inside our body. For this reason, carotenoids are otherwise known as ‘provitamin A.’

Unfortunately, the human body’s ability to convert carotenoids to retinol is poor, and the bioavailability rate of carotenoids can be exceptionally low in individuals with certain genetic variations (4, 5).

As a result, foods containing retinol are an important (and reliable) source of vitamin A.

Since liver has one of the highest concentrations of retinol, liverwurst also offers a substantial supply. Per 100 grams, liverwurst contains more than 550% of the RDI for vitamin A (1).

Vitamin A has numerous benefits for human health, and it is particularly important for our vision and maintaining a healthy immune system (6).

Key Point: Liverwurst is a significant source of retinol (preformed vitamin A).

4) Loaded With Iron and Selenium

Two more of the major nutrients in liverwurst are iron and selenium, both of which are essential minerals.

Liverwurst contains 36% of the RDI for iron and 83% for selenium per 100 grams (1).

Unfortunately, iron is one of the leading (and quickest growing) nutrient deficiencies, causing an estimated 1.62 billion cases of anemia around the world (7).

Iron is essential for the proper transportation of oxygen around the body, and it also plays a role in general growth and development (8).

The other primary mineral in liverwurst, selenium, has antioxidant properties and it helps to strengthen the immune system (9).

While iron and selenium are the most concentrated minerals, liverwurst supplies every essential mineral in small to moderate amounts.

Key Point: Liverwurst is an excellent source of minerals, and the amount of iron and selenium it offers is especially notable.

5) Liverwurst Is a Tasty Way To Include Organ Meats In the Diet

Whole Liverwurst Sausage Next To Slices.

Perhaps one of the most important benefits of liverwurst is the fact it allows us to eat “disguised” organ meat.

The reason for this?

Although organ meats are some of the most nutritious foods we can eat, they are not very popular, and many people dislike their texture.

On this note, the organ meats contained in liverwurst are ground together with a combination of meat, fat, and various tasty seasonings.

As a result, we can get the nutrition benefits of organ meat without the strong flavor and unusual texture.

Instead, liverwurst offers a soft and creamy texture with a buttery, meaty taste enhanced by flavorful herbs.

If liverwurst helps people to eat nutrient-dense organ meat who would normally skip it, then that is a big potential benefit.

Key Point: Liverwurst offers all the benefits of organ meat without tasting like them.

Potential Concerns

Overall, liverwurst is one of the healthiest foods we can eat.

That said, there are still a couple of concerns worth knowing.

1) Very High In Sodium

Liverwurst contains large amounts of salt, with 100 grams providing around 36% of the RDI for sodium (1).

Depending on the overall diet, this could be an issue, particularly for people who are salt sensitive.

Salt sensitivity is thought to affect roughly 25% of the population, and in such individuals, higher salt intake is likely to raise blood pressure (10).

2) Cheap Filler Ingredients

The majority of liverwurst products will contain meat, liver, other organ meats, fat, and seasonings.

However, there are some more processed options to be aware of that don’t follow the traditional recipe.

Such products may include cheap fillers like wheat flour and vegetable oil.

If you wish to avoid these, check the label carefully.

Key Point: Liverwurst is a significant source of sodium, which may be an issue for some people. Also, there is a big difference in the quality of different liverwurst products.

How To Eat Liverwurst

Liverwurst With Cheese and Crackers On a Wooden Board.

For those who have bought some liverwurst and are now wondering how to eat it, here are a few ideas.

1) Use It As a Spread

You can use liverwurst in the same way you would use cream cheese or any other spread.

Therefore, there are dozens of different things you could do with it, such as;

  • Stuffing vegetables
  • As a topping for crackers
  • Serve and eat alongside meat

2) Add Liverwurst To Soups and Stews

Liverwurst stew is a thing, and you can add the traditional liver sausage to a stew alongside meat, vegetables, and any other ingredients you like.

Adding a few slices of liverwurst to a soup or stew is an easy way to upgrade the nutrient profile, and it helps with the flavor too.

3) Pan-Fried Liverwurst With Onions

Note: you need the sliceable version of liverwurst for this dish.

All you have to do is pan-fry a few slices of the sausage with some onions in a bit of butter.

This meal is quick, simple, and highly nutritious, and it provides a new take on the traditional pan-fried liver and onions.

It is similar, but it tastes much better.

4) With Cucumber and Cheese Slices

Just top some slices of cucumber with a thin slice of liverwurst and cheese.

This combination makes for a nutritious and refreshing snack, and it tastes good too.

5) Make a Liverwurst Dip

Mash some liverwurst with a bit of mayo, and you have a simple-to-make meaty dip that you can use any way you want.

Nutrition Facts

Finally, here is the full nutrition profile for liverwurst per 100 grams (1).

Calories and Macronutrients

Liverwurst Basic Nutrition Facts (Per 100 Grams)
Calories/NutrientAmount (kcal/grams)
Calories326 kcal
Carbohydrate2.2 g
 Fiber
 Sugars
Fat28.5 g
 Saturated Fat10.6 g
 Monounsaturated Fat13.3 g
 Polyunsaturated Fat2.6 g
  Omega-3140 mg
  Omega-62450 mg
Protein14.1 g

Vitamins

Vitamin Profile of Liverwurst (Per 100 Grams)
VitaminAmount (% DV)
Vitamin A553 %
Vitamin B12224 %
Vitamin B261 %
Vitamin B530 %
Vitamin B321 %
Vitamin B118 %
Vitamin B69 %
Folate8 %

It is also worth noting that liverwurst is an excellent source of vitamin D and vitamin K2.

Unfortunately, the USDA Food Composition Databases don’t provide the data for the vitamin D and K2 content (which can vary a lot) for food.

Minerals

Mineral Profile of Liverwurst (Per 100 Grams)
MineralAmount (% DV)
Selenium83 %
Iron36 %
Sodium36 %
Phosphorus23 %
Zinc15 %
Copper12 %
Manganese8 %
Potassium5 %
Calcium3 %
Magnesium3 %
Key Point: Liverwurst is extremely nutrient-dense, and it provides virtually every essential nutrient, most notably vitamin A, B12, and selenium.

Final Thoughts

As shown throughout this article, liverwurst offers a wide variety of benefits.

This traditional German sausage is high in protein, a rich source of fat-soluble vitamins, and it contains an impressive overall nutrient profile.

Furthermore, it manages to taste good.

As a result, liverwurst is an excellent option for those who don’t like traditional organ meat.

Even for those that do, eating a bit of liverwurst is an easy way to increase the intake of numerous essential nutrients.

For more on organ meats, see this in-depth guide to sweetbreads.

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Anne
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Anne

Thank you for this informative article. I needed this.

vicki walker
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vicki walker

so is braunswager as good for you? i love both.

Joan Jones
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Joan Jones

I give my dogs their pills in liverwurst. They love it!

Grace Pulley
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Grace Pulley

I have not eaten liverwurst in years. Growing up we always had the slice able kind in our fridge. My family’s favorite way of eating it was a sandwich with a large slice of onion and a little mayo. After reading this article and seeing the many benefits I think I may need to start eating it again.

sammy pepys
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Excellent advice and a reminder that finding ways to eat liver – this, and chicken liver pate for example – is important for us. New food labels may give ‘leberwurst’ red traffic lights warnings for fat and salt and saturated fat, but that will not put me off… quite the opposite.

lARRY
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lARRY

I do not trust deli meat liverwurst. I wish there was somewhere to get it

AJajaj
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AJajaj

Try a German deli or specialty store.