There are some foods you just never thought could be considered “healthy.” Beef jerky is probably one of them. Historically, beef jerky has been considered a salty snack with lots of added preservatives that didn’t make for such a great choice. Now, healthier versions of jerky are available, and they’re the perfect vending machine snack.
Here’s what to look for when scouting out a healthy kind of jerky:
Organic or Grass-Fed
By choosing jerky brands that boast grass-fed and organic beef, you’re getting the most nutrition out of your jerky that you possibly can. Another benefit is that you’re probably staying away from the “mystery meat” scenario that plagues many varieties of beef jerky. A lot of jerky is made from various parts of the cow, including scraps that aren’t suitable for sale in supermarkets or butcher shops. When you choose an organic or grass-fed variety, you’ll be avoiding this.
Try to choose beef jerky without a lot of added flavorings. Those flavorings are what can boost the sugar content dramatically, quickly making your jerky snack far less healthy. Jerky is already very salty — being cured in salt is literally what makes it jerky, so you can’t really escape it — so there’s no sense in choosing jerky with a lot sugar on top of that.
Nitrate and MSG-Free
Nitrates are often added to jerkies as a preservative, and monosodium glutamate (MSGs) are commonly found in processed meats. These additives are linked to cancer and other harmful developments. Do your best to find a jerky option that is nitrate- and MSG-free.
Remember: even healthy jerkies contain a lot of sodium. Keeping the serving size small and not gobbling up a huge portion of jerky is always a good idea.
Luckily, it’s easier than ever to find healthy, organic, additive-free jerky. Plus, there are alternatives to beef jerky: look for salmon, chicken, turkey, pork, and even vegan versions. Do jerky right, and you’ll be able to enjoy a portable, functional, filling, and delicious snack wherever you happen to be!