When we’re talking about healthy snack ideas, it is not uncommon for beef jerky to come up in a conversation. However, seeing how beef jerky is considered a snack, many are wondering – is beef jerky bad for you?
Well, the answer is not as simple as good and bad. As is the case with any other food or snack – the truth is somewhere in the middle.
Today, we’re going to talk about beef jerky. We’re going to tell you how it’s made, how often should you eat it and finally, answer the age-old question – is beef jerky good for you, or not?
What is beef jerky and how is it made?
- Essentially, beef jerky is nothing more but cured, lean, thin-sliced beef.
As far as the manufacturing process is concerned, making beef jerky is relatively straightforward. The first step towards making the best jerky is preparing the grass-fed beef. Jerky is made only from lean meat, so before you end up slicing and curing it, the manufacturers have to debone the meat and remove all the excess fat from it.
After that part of the process is finished, the meat is cured with a previously prepared curing solution which often contains various seasonings and spices.
In the end, all that is left to do is pack the jerky in vacuum-sealed bags and ship it out for people to enjoy it.
What nutrients & minerals does beef jerky contain?
Generally speaking, beef jerky is one of the most nutritious snacks. It’s packed with protein and low in carbs, which is why many athletes often snack on jerky. In addition to protein, jerky is also very rich in various minerals and vitamins.
For instance, 100 grams of beef jerky is as nutritious as any other meal you could have. One hundred grams of beef jerky will be around 450 kcal, including almost 35 grams of pure animal protein. On top of that, it will also satisfy your daily need for zinc, and help you reach your daily intake goals for vitamin B12, iron, magnesium and so on.
Here’s a detailed breakdown of what 100 grams of healthy beef jerky contains.
- Calories: 415
- Protein: 34 grams
- Fat: 25 grams
- Carbs: 11 grams
- Fiber: 2 grams
- Sodium: 79% DV (recommended daily intake value)
- Zinc: 76% DV
- Vitamin B12: 43% DV
- Phosphorus: 34% DV
- Folate: 33% DV
- Iron: 30% DV
- Copper: 26% DV
- Choline: 21% DV
- Selenium: 18% DV
- Potassium: 14% DV
- Thiamine: 13% DV
- Magnesium: 11% DV
- Riboflavin: 11% DV
- Niacin: 11% DV
As you can see, beef jerky is packing quite a punch. That leads us to our next question.
How often should you eat beef jerky?
Most of us are aware that eating beef jerky isn’t something that should be done on a daily basis, regardless of how packed with nutrients it might be. If you take another look at the 100-gram breakdown, you’re going to notice that 100 grams of beef jerky contain way too much sodium. That alone makes beef jerky quite unsafe for daily consumption.
So, how often can you eat it? We’d say that you safely enjoy beef jerky once or twice a week without worrying about compromising your health.
The key is finding the balance. You can even have too much water, let alone jerky. Even the healthiest beef jerky should be consumed in moderation only so often.
The downsides of beef jerky
To gain a better understanding of why you shouldn’t eat jerky often, here are some of the downsides.
- Increased blood pressure
- Increased cholesterol levels
- Increased chance of colon and prostate cancer
- Increased likelihood of cardiovascular disease
- High caloric value
- Very high in sodium
As you can see, consuming a lot of beef jerky can lead to an array of health problems, most of which are caused by high sodium concentration. To make matters even worse, consuming a lot of jerky will make you feel full, which could lead to an unbalanced diet, leading to even more health issues.
Beef jerky benefits
On the other hand, beef jerky is essentially healthy, and there are several benefits to incorporating it into your diet.
- It can boost your immune system
- It won’t raise your insulin levels
- It’s not high in fat
- It’s high in healthy protein
- It has a long shelf life
- It’s rich in various minerals
Every now and then, eating a few pieces of jerky will do you a lot more good than bad. This protein-rich snack will not only help you get bigger and stronger if you’re an athlete, but it will also help boost your immune system by providing you with zinc and iron.
What is the recommended daily dosage of beef jerky?
As we’ve already mentioned, you shouldn’t consume jerky on a daily basis. Once or twice a week should suffice. However, just because you don’t eat it often doesn’t mean that you should eat the whole bag.
Recommended daily dosage of beef jerky would be somewhere around 50 grams, but you could go up to 100 grams if you’re heavier. Since the key is in balance and moderation, just make sure the rest of your meals aren’t rich in sodium on the day you’re snacking on jerky.
How to recognize a healthy beef jerky?
The key to finding a healthy beef jerky is to take a look at the back of the packaging. Every product has to have a label naming all the ingredients used to make the product, and that label is often found on the back.
Now, you don’t have to be an expert to identify the best jerky brands. All you’ll have to do is check the label, make sure there are no added nitrites or nitrates, and check the packaging to see whether the beef is organic and grass-fed.
If the packaging checks all the boxes – it’s safe to say that that one is one of the good, healthy snacks, and you should feel free to buy it.
How to make healthy beef jerky?
If you want to make sure you’re eating nothing but the best – you can easily make your own jerky at home.
Simply get a high-quality, organic, grass-fed lean cut of beef and slice it up nice and thin. After you slice it up, marinade it in herbs, spices and seasonings of your choice for a few hours, and when you’re done, simply place the meat in a meat dehydrator at around 70°C for about four to five hours, and that’s it!
Conclusion – is beef jerky healthy for you?
So, what’s the final verdict? Is beef jerky one of the best healthy snacks out there? Well, even though it’s not as healthy as some of the veggies you could be snacking on, it’s still pretty good.
As we’ve said already, the key is to take it in moderation. When eaten in moderate amounts, beef jerky is nothing but a healthy snack that anyone could benefit from. It’s tasty, rich in protein and minerals, and it can be easily made in your own kitchen.
All in all – beef jerky’s great!