I don’t know why exactly, but I’ve been on a bit of a beef jerky kick lately. It’s odd because I went 30-something odd years without ever having beef jerky, and now, all of a sudden, I’m eating it all the time. I don’t often eat red meat, so maybe my body is craving it and inhaling bags of the stuff is just my body’s way of telling me that I need more meat.
Another possibility is that I’m using the beef jerky as a substitute for potato chips and Doritos. I’m trying to cut back them because I can easily eat a bag at a time and that’s literally thousands of calories. A bag of beef jerky on the other hand is around 200-300 calories. Just looking at those numbers, it’s got to be healthier for me than eating a bag of chips.
This is what got me wondering about beef jerky: when I’m looking for a snack, is beef jerky a healthy option? My main man Mike Dolce says that it isn’t, and that it should only be eaten in survival situations if cannibalism is the only other option. His reason for not eating beef jerky is that it doesn’t contain any fiber which can make it hard to digest. But that seems like something that could be balanced out quite easily with a smoothie loaded with kale or some All Bran cereal or something like that.
Like most foods, it’s important to look at the label when selecting a beef jerky, because a lot of them are filled with things you should likely avoid. For one, most are loaded with all types of sugar and corn syrups. Many contain heavy doses of salt. Monosodium glutamate (MSG) and nitrates are common ingredients as well, and both should be avoided if possible.
On the other side of the coin, what are some good things about beef jerky? It’s high in protein making it a great option before exercising or physical activity, it’s relatively low in calories compared to most other snack foods, and it contains iron and zinc, two minerals our bodies need.
So if you’re like me and you’re looking for a snack to satiate your salty tooth (is that a thing?), give beef jerky a try. Just read the label, try to find the healthiest option, and try to do something physical afterwards. You’ll certainly have the protein needed to burn off the calories you consume.