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The Nutrition of Cow Tongue

By Sara Ipatenco

When you're wandering through the grocery store trying to find something to make for dinner, you probably won't find yourself in the tiny area of the meat section where packaged cow tongues are stocked. Cow tongue certainly has a flavor unlike any other kind of meat, and if you're an adventurous eater, you may want to give a tongue a try. If you can eat an entire 3.5-ounce portion, you'll get a good dose of many nutrients you need each day.

Calories, Fat and Protein

A 3.5-ounce portion of cow tongue contains 284 calories and 22 grams of fat, of which 8 grams are saturated. That's about one-third of your limit for the day if you follow a 2,000-calorie diet. Perhaps even more alarming is the 132 milligrams of cholesterol in that same serving of tongue. That's about 44 percent of the 300 milligrams of cholesterol you should make as your upper limit each day. Keeping your intake of saturated fat and cholesterol low is a smart way to show your ticker a little love because it reduces your risk of heart disease.


On a more upbeat note, 3.5 ounces of beef tongue delivers 19 grams of protein, which is an impressive 41 percent of the 46 grams of protein women need each day and 34 percent of the 56 grams men should aim for on a daily basis.

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Beef tongue contains small amounts of selenium, potassium, magnesium and calcium. You'll also get a larger dose of iron, which your body needs for oxygen transport and red blood cell production. A 3.5-ounce portion of beef tongue contains 2.6 milligrams of iron, which is 14 percent of the 18 milligrams women need each day and 33 percent of the 8 milligrams men need daily. You'll also get 4 milligrams of zinc, a nutrient that helps your body heal from wounds and also protects the health of your immune system.


Cow tongue supplies trace amounts of vitamins C, E and K, as well as folate and vitamin B-6. If you're looking for ways to boost your intake of vitamin B-12, cow tongue might be the food for you. A 3.5-ounce serving contains 3.3 micrograms of this essential vitamin that helps you make red blood cells. That's more than the 2.4 micrograms healthy adults need each day. You'll also get about 17 percent of the riboflavin and niacin you need each day from a serving of cow tongue. Both of these vitamins help your body make energy from the foods you eat.

Getting Over the "Gross" Factor

If you're not nervous about putting unknown foods into your mouth, simply simmer a cow tongue in water or broth until the meat is cooked through. Slice the cooked meat and pop it into your mouth. If you're a bit more reserved about trying new foods, combine cooked cow tongue with other foods such as soup, stew or pasta. Use your favorite seasonings to lend a savory or spicy flavor to the meat, which can also make it more palatable to you. If you find you don't enjoy the strong taste, you'll get many of the same nutrients from lean steak, ground beef or sirloin.

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