Organ meats are a concentrated source of nutrients that have been consumed since ancient times.
Recently, there has been a resurgence of interest in organ meats due to the popularity of premodern eating patterns like the paleo diet.
Tripe is a type of organ meat made from the edible stomach lining of farm animals.
This article tells you everything you need to know about tripe, including its nutrition, potential benefits and how to add it to your diet.
Ruminant animals like cows, buffalo and sheep have multiple stomach chambers to properly digest their food (1).
Tripe refers to the edible muscle walls of the stomachs of these animals.
Considered an edible byproduct of animal slaughter, it’s sold for human consumption or added to animal foods, such as dry dog kibble.
Beef tripe is one of the most commonly eaten varieties.
Tripe is a tough meat that needs to be prepared properly to become edible. It’s commonly cooked by moist heat methods, such as boiling or stewing.
It has a chewy texture and a mild taste, taking on the flavor of other ingredients it is cooked with.
Tripe is frequently added to sausages — such as andouille sausage — and also used in dishes like stews and soups.
What’s more, it can be stuffed with ingredients like blood, meat, herbs and spices to make slátur, a traditional Icelandic sausage similar to blood pudding.
There are four different kinds of beef tripe, classified depending on which stomach chamber the product was derived from.
- Blanket or flat tripe: This type is made from the first stomach chamber of cows. This smooth tripe is considered the least desirable.
- Honeycomb tripe: This variety stems from the second stomach chamber and resembles a honeycomb. It’s more tender than blanket tripe and has a more palatable flavor.
- Omasum or book tripe: Coming from the third stomach chamber, this type of tripe is described as a mix between blanket and honeycomb tripe.
- Abomasum or reed tripe: This variety is from the fourth stomach chamber. Its taste varies from strong to mild.
While tripe from different animals is consumed around the world, it’s not as popular as more common organ meats like heart, liver and kidney.
This slaughter byproduct is also a common ingredient in pet foods.
Summary Tripe refers to the stomach lining of animals like cows, sheep and buffalo. It has a tough texture and mild flavor.
Organ meats tend to be highly nutritious — and tripe is no exception.
It’s low in calories but loaded with important nutrients your body needs to thrive.
A 5-ounce (140-gram) serving of cooked beef tripe provides (2):
- Calories: 131
- Fat: 5 grams
- Protein: 17 grams
- Vitamin B12: 15% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI)
- Selenium: 25% of the RDI
- Calcium: 10% of the RDI
- Zinc: 15% of the RDI
- Phosphorus: 10% of the RDI
- Iron: 5% of the RDI
- Magnesium: 5% of the RDI
Tripe is also a good source of manganese and niacin (B3).
Summary Tripe is low in calories yet rich in protein, vitamin B12 and the minerals zinc and selenium.
Tripe can benefit both your health and your wallet in the following ways.
Rich in High-Quality Protein
Your body needs protein for vital processes, such as cellular communication, fluid balance, immune system function and tissue repair and maintenance (6).
Tripe is a complete source of protein, meaning that it contains all nine essential amino acids your body needs to function.
Adding protein-rich foods to your diet is an excellent way to lose excess body fat or maintain a healthy weight.
Protein is the most filling of all nutrients. Adding a protein source like tripe to meals and snacks can help reduce hunger, preventing the chances of overeating (7).
Affordable and Sustainable
Because tripe is not as desirable as steak and other meat products, it’s a more affordable protein option for those trying to save money.
Plus, purchasing tripe supports the nose-to-tail consumption of animals, which cuts down on food waste.
Unlike traditional methods in which every part of an animal killed for food was used, modern-day meat production often leads to less in-demand animal parts being thrown away (8).
Choosing to eat organ meats and other slaughter by-products like tripe promotes a less wasteful way of consuming animals.
An Excellent Source of Vitamins and Minerals
Tripe packs an impressive amount of nutrients, including selenium, zinc and vitamin B12.
A 5-ounce (140-gram) serving of cooked beef tripe delivers 25% of the RDI for selenium and more than 15% of the RDI for both vitamin B12 and zinc.
Selenium is a mineral that acts as a powerful antioxidant in your body. It’s also needed for DNA production, thyroid health and metabolism (11).
Additionally, tripe is a good source of the minerals calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and iron.
Summary Tripe is rich in protein and a number of vitamins and minerals. What’s more, it’s an affordable food that supports sustainable food practices.
Tripe is relatively high in cholesterol, with a 5-ounce (140-gram) serving packing in 220 mg of cholesterol — 75% of the RDI of 300 mg.
For most people, dietary cholesterol has little impact on overall cholesterol levels (12).
However, a small number of people are considered cholesterol hyper-responders and are more impacted by high-cholesterol foods.
For hyper-responders, it’s best to keep high-cholesterol foods like tripe to a minimum.
Aside from being rich in cholesterol, the smell, taste and texture of tripe might turn some people off.
Tripe is a tough-textured meat that is usually pre-cooked before being sold to consumers.
However, it still needs to be cooked for a long period of time — usually two to three hours — before it’s ready.
In order to soften the texture, moist cooking methods like boiling or stewing are recommended.
Additionally, seasoning with spices and fresh herbs is recommended to enhance the bland flavor of tripe.
Even though cooking and seasoning should make this organ meat tastier, some people — especially those with aversions to chewy, textured foods — may not be a fan.
What’s more, some say that raw tripe has a distinct smell, which may not sit well with some people.
Summary The smell, taste and texture of tripe may turn some people off, especially if it’s not prepared in the right way. Plus, tripe is high in cholesterol, which may not be the best choice for those who are sensitive to high-cholesterol foods.
Tripe can be added to most savory meals or snacks.
Most tripe sold in stores is precooked and bleached in a chlorine solution to remove any impurities.
Before cooking tripe, rinse it thoroughly to remove any leftover chlorine residue.
Unprocessed tripe — available from some butchers or farms — is said to have a stronger flavor and must be cleaned carefully before cooking.
Here are a few ways that you can add tripe to your diet:
- Mix cooked tripe into eggs with sauteed vegetables.
- Use tripe as a high-protein salad topper.
- Combine tripe with onions, butter and fresh herbs and serve on crusty bread.
- Make a traditional Italian stew with tripe, tomatoes, onions, garlic and fresh herbs.
- Add tripe to a tomato sauce and serve over pasta.
- Use tripe as an ingredient in homemade sausage.
- Boil tripe with onions and milk for a classic British dish.
Another common preparation for tripe is deep-frying, which is popular in Southern cuisine.
However, like all deep-fried foods, fried tripe should be eaten sparingly.
Summary Tripe can be added to eggs, salads, soups, stews and pasta dishes. Tripe must be properly cleaned before cooking.
Tripe, like other organ meats, is packed with nutrients, including B12, selenium and zinc.
Adding this high-quality protein to savory dishes or snacks may cut down on food waste and costs.
Still, it’s high in cholesterol, and its unique texture and taste may not appeal to everyone.
If you are an adventurous cook looking to expand your palate and save money at the same time, give tripe a try.