How healthy is your beef jerky?
By Roy Kim, Nov 05 2014
Jerky has been around for thousands of years, made by the ancient Incan tribes and by Native Americans. The meat was deboned, stripped of fat and cured in salt in order to prevent spoilage. Since, then beef jerky has had its own niche in the array of snacks but was mainly reserved for camping trips. As of recent, beef jerky has been revamped and it is no longer just that dry and tough piece of meat that’s been sitting at the bottom of a camping bag. It has been recreated with healthier ingredients and thousands of appealing flavors making this snack more popular among the gourmands and the health and fitness buffs.
As a step toward making this snack healthier and more appealing many companies have been making an effort to remove the commonly added sugar, high fructose corn syrup, MSG and preservatives such as nitrites- which have been linked to cancer. Beef jerky is still criticized due to its high sodium content which is used for the flavor and preservation. Chomps is the one that uses a natural alternative for preservative- celery juice; this reduces the sodium content by a significant amount compared to other snacks. In addition there are no sugars, gluten or soy added to our beef jerky snacks. As health conscious consumers it is always important to check the ingredient labels and be aware of what has been added to our foods because it is all going into our bodies. The shorter the list and the more wholesome the ingredients (i.e. not the ones found in a chemistry lab) the better the chance of it being healthier.
Despite the effort to make this snack healthier not all beef jerky snacks are created equal. Some beef jerky snacks are claimed to be “All-Natural” but due to loose FDA definition and regulation of this claim it allows companies to use unnaturally fed beef. Majority of cows are raised on huge feedlots and on a diet of corn and soy which causes many health problems and diseases because their digestive systems are not designed for a grain diet. The cows are consequently treated with antibiotics and steroids in order treat those health problems and fatten them up a bit more. It has also been shown that the nutrient content of grain fed beef is different from that of grass fed beef. Grass fed beef is higher in Omega 3’s and CLA which are both beneficial for our health.
Health conscious consumers want to make sure their food is natural and high quality. However, the “All Natural” label is no longer the only reliable label because it does not take into account the way the food was processed. For beef, it is important to make sure the label says “100% Grass-Fed” to ensure that your food is of highest quality and most natural form. It is also better for the environment and the animals who have been more humanely raised. Some companies take an extra step to and obtain additional certifications that ensure that the beef is truly natural and naturally processed as well as good quality. Chomps snack sticks is one of the companies that has been certified by the American GrassFed Association and Animal Welfare Approved, ensuring that the beef used to make their jerky is 100% grass-fed and the animals have been treated humanely.
Beef jerky is the perfect snack for on the run and it has the lean protein for that energy boost or replenishing energy after a workout. It is low carb and low calorie, but most importantly it’s chewiness and the salty or spicy flavors satisfy a craving like no other snack would. Additionally, purchasing foods that have less negative impact on the environment and that are processed in a humane and most natural way makes it even more satisfying because not only is it better for our health but also for our environment.