Is Jerky A Healthy Snack?
When many people think of jerky, any variety, they typically think about salt. Salt is the primary curing method for most jerky, which means a single serving of jerky can contain as much as 22% of your daily sodium intake. However, while the sodium content is high in most jerky snacks, the dehydrated meat treat does provide many benefits that keep people coming back, even those focused on diet and weight loss.
Primarily, jerky consists of lean cuts of meat. It is marinated in various spices, sauces, and additives before curing, drying, or smoking. When deciding whether the snack is appropriate for your diet, consult your primary care physician.
Nutritional Benefits of Beef Jerky
Beef jerky is a high protein, low carb snack, which already makes it more beneficial than most other snack foods on the market. Additionally, it is relatively low fat and low calorie.
Beyond the basics, jerky is an excellent source of iron and zinc, both crucial to immune system performance. A serving of the beef snack can also provide an adequate portion of your B12 needs. Because of its nutritional composition, jerky contributes to immune system health and energy levels.
Jerky also maintains these nutritional advantages throughout its long and stable shelf life. To make jerky, a producer must remove all the moisture in the meat. Without moisture, bacteria cannot form, which is why unsealed jerky can have a shelf life of up to two years. However, once opened, you should consume the snack within a week or two.
Portability of Jerky
Unlike many other snack foods, jerky is highly portable. You can throw it in your gym bag without worrying about it. While some other snacks provide similar benefits to jerky, like granola, yogurt, trail mix, etc., they are not as easy to consume on the go. Yogurt requires refrigeration; granola can be messy; trail mix involves preparation.
Jerky is mess-free, and you know it will be filling because it is meat. You can bring jerky wherever you go, to work, the gym, school, outings, etc. Still, it would be best if you were cautious about overconsumption.
Drawbacks of Jerky
While there are many benefits of jerky, and you cannot deny the potential health benefits, you must be aware of the drawbacks. Because of the high sodium content of jerky, the snack is not for everyone. Also, you want to limit your jerky servings to a max of one serving per day because it makes up about 22% of your daily sodium intake.
Additionally, because beef jerky is a highly processed snack, you want to limit your intake even further. Overly processed foods can increase the risks of cancers, specifically gastrointestinal cancers.
Beef jerky and other types are healthy and nutritious snacks in moderation. Still, because of sodium content and potential health risks, you may want to limit how much jerky you eat. It might be best to reserve jerky for times when a high-protein, portable snack is most beneficial, such as hiking or biking trails.
Do you enjoy eating jerky? When do you find it most beneficial to eat?