Can you eat spleen?

In this article, we will answer the question “Can you eat spleen?” and discuss what nutrients are found in the spleen. There are several ways to prepare the spleen as an edible organ that provides diversity to any cuisine.

Can you eat spleen?

Yes, you can eat spleen. Spleen and its extract have recently been utilized by medical experts and the general public to strengthen the blood, recover from cancer, and avoid autoimmune illness.

Who should eat spleen?

People who are suffering from anemia due to dietary deficiencies should eat spleen. Anemia may be caused by nutritional deficiencies, such as deficient intake of iron, vitamin B12, folic acid and riboflavin. Chronic diseases, parasitic infections like malaria, hemoglobinopathies, and lead poisoning can also lead to anemia.

The best sources of iron are of animal origin, thus they are iron-rich foods with high iron bioavailability. The heme-iron is derived from hemoglobin and myoglobin in meat and the non-heme iron that can be extracted from plants and dairy foods. The bioavailability of non-heme iron is only 5-10% and can be decreased, when ingested with plant phytates and oxalates.

Because beef spleen is a rich source of heme iron with an increased bioavailability, it could be used as a food supplement to treat iron deficiency. The absorption of iron is increased with the ingestion of vitamin C. Therefore, the consumption of meat or other iron rich foods should be simultaneous to the ingestion of a vitamin C source, such as a fruit juice (1). 

Who should not eat spleen?

People who are suffering from hemochromatosis should not eat spleen. Hemochromatosis is a disorder in which extra iron builds up in the body to harmful levels. The negative consequences of iron overload include decreased glucose tolerance or overt diabetes mellitus, as well as cardiac arrhythmias and heart failure (9).

Hemochromatosis has been considered to be a genetic disease and may be treated by periodically removing a portion of blood from the patient and by keeping a healthy diet, while avoiding food containing high amounts of iron. 

Therefore, because beef spleen contains a high concentration of iron, it should be avoided by individuals diagnosed with hemochromatosis.

What are the risks of eating beef spleen?

The risks of eating spleen are of having an increased cholesterol LDL level, which may lead to cardiovascular diseases. The consumption of red meat and animal sources of proteins are related to increased population incidence of heart diseases.  

Dietary intake of heme iron, abundant in red meat, has also been associated with increased CVD risk likely through mechanisms involving lipid peroxidation and inflammation (10). 

Therefore, it is recommended to eat beef spleen with moderation, as part of a healthy diet, due to its high levels of heme-iron.

What are the nutrients present in Beef Spleen?

The nutrients present in beef spleen are vitamins, cholesterol and iron. Beef spleen contains 17-18% protein, 3-6% fat, and approximately eight times the iron found in beef liver. As an added bonus, it’s an excellent source of Riboflavin, Niacin, Zinc, and Iron, as well as a good source of Vitamins A and B12 (2,3).


Cholesterol is a structural component of cell membranes and serves as a building block for synthesizing various steroid hormones, vitamin D, and bile acids. Important steroid hormones including progesterone, pregnenolone, and DHEA are synthesized in the human body using endogenous cholesterol and exogenous cholesterol from the environment. 

Besides their structural role providing stability and fluidity, cholesterol also plays a crucial role in regulating cell function (5).

A low cholesterol level has been linked to symptoms of sadness, foggy thinking, and other emotional and mental health issues. There is growing evidence about the crucial requirement of neuron membrane cholesterol in the organization and function of the 5-HT1A serotonin receptor. For this, low cholesterol level has been reported to be associated with depression and suicidality (6).


Niacin or Vitamin B3 is abundant in the beef spleen. Nearly 5 mg of Niacin is included in a 100-gram portion of spleen (2). Niacin is important in the metabolization of carbohydrates and improves cognitive function (4).


The beef spleen offers 250 percent of your daily recommended intake of iron in only 100 grams (1). Iron aids in the production of oxygenated, healthy blood by the body (7).

It’s also important to pay attention to the kind of iron in your diet. Heme iron, which is readily absorbed by the body, is found in abundance in the spleen. Iron from animal sources is used by the body several times more efficiently than iron from plant-based sources (up to 35% of heme iron consumed).


Beef meat, liver and spleen, fish, eggs, milk, curd and cheese are good sources of vitamin B12. In DNA synthesis the most important role of vitamin B 12 is where cell replication is required. Vitamin B 12 acts in this cycle on folic acid. It is assumed that vitamin B 12, which plays a role in cell division, also serves as a modulator of human immunity (8). 

Vitamin B12 is required for the development, myelination, and function of the central nervous system; healthy red blood cell formation; and DNA synthesis. Vitamin B12 functions as a cofactor for two enzymes, methionine synthase and L-methylmalonyl-CoA mutase.

Vitamin B12 stimulates the development of cellular immune recruited T lymphocytes, restores an abnormally increased CD4/ CD8 ratio, and retains normal lymphocyte subgroup counts (8).


In this article, we answered the question “Can you eat spleen?” and we discussed  what nutrients are found in the spleen.


  1. Mantadakis, Elpis, Eleftherios Chatzimichael, and Panagiota Zikidou. Iron deficiency anemia in children residing in high and low-income countries: risk factors, prevention, diagnosis and therapy. Mediterr j hematol infect dis, 2020, 12.
  2. Graham, P.P., et al. Mineral element composition of bovine spleen and separated spleen components. J Food Sci, 1982, 47, 720-722.  
  3. Seong, Pil Nam, et al. Characterization of Hanwoo bovine by-products by means of yield, physicochemical and nutritional compositions. Korean j food sci animal res, 2014, 34, 434.  
  4. Niacin. National Institute of Health. 2022.
  5. Craig, Micah, Siva Naga S. Yarrarapu, and Manjari Dimri. Biochemistry, cholesterol. StatPearls [Internet], 2018.
  6. Segoviano-Mendoza, Marcela, et al. Hypocholesterolemia is an independent risk factor for depression disorder and suicide attempt in Northern Mexican population. BMC psych, 2018, 18, 1-7.
  7. Iron. National Institute of Health. 2022.
  8. Dhok, Archana, et al. Role of vitamins and minerals in improving immunity during Covid-19 pandemic-A review. J Evol Med Dental Sci, 2020, 9, 2296-301.
  9. Hemochromatosis. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.
  10. Bergeron, Nathalie, et al. Effects of red meat, white meat, and nonmeat protein sources on atherogenic lipoprotein measures in the context of low compared with high saturated fat intake: a randomized controlled trial. Am j clin nutr, 2019, 110, 24-33.