Beef sticks are made of dried, seasoned meat, so they are all generally low in carbs and high in protein. When you can say that about a snack food, it's easy to assume it's healthy, but are beef sticks actually good for you?
Theoretically, yes. But, the answer depends on how it was made, what ingredients are used, and who is asking.
Let's take a closer look.
First, let's look at beef sticks in general.
You might notice they share many of the same nutritional qualities as regular beef, with a few differences. Afterall, the primary ingredient in beef sticks is the beef.
This means the nutritional content of jerky products made with beef originating from grass-fed cattle is usually highest, and jerky from commercially raised livestock is the lowest.
Here's a nutritional breakdown on what you get from eating a beef stick and why it may be a healthier choice than some other foods.
Meat sticks are an excellent source of protein.
According to the USDA, the average beef stick contains 6.1 grams of protein per 1 oz. serving, which is about 13% of the total recommended dietary allowance for women, and just under 11% for men.
Protein provides many benefits like:
Protein that comes from grass-fed beef is more readily absorbed by the body than protein that comes from livestock raised on feed.
Vitamins and minerals are nutrients that help maintain a healthy body. The most significant minerals found in beef jerky are:
Beef sticks also contain trace levels of vitamins A, B, C, and calcium.
Fat can be a scary word, but it's one of three "macronutrients" found in our diet. While there are good and bad fats, they both play an important role in the body by assisting the absorption of vitamins and minerals, protecting our organs, and providing energy.
Despite the benefit of fat in our diet, adults should limit their consumption. Some beef sticks can have up to 16 grams of fat per ounce of fat, which is almost the total recommended daily allowance. So, care should be taken when selecting a beef snack.
Pasture-raised meat and a few simple ingredients are all that is needed to make incredible tasting stick. But low quality and mass-produced products are often made using artificial flavors and the worst cuts of meat. Some items you should avoid include:
You might know it by its other well-known name: Slime. If you see this ingredient in your beef jerky sticks, back away slowly...
Mechanically separated meat is a paste-like meat product made from the worst cuts of commercially raised beef. It has little to no flavor or nutritional value and is something that you should avoid.
Beef sticks are perishable products and must be preserved, but the use of unhealthy, manmade chemicals is common. The two worst preservatives that can be found in beef sticks are chemical nitrates and nitrites.
Manmade nitrate compounds such as sodium nitrite, are added to many processed meats, such as bacon, to preserve the color and keep bacteria from growing. However, they have been linked to several health conditions such as mania and cancer.
Instead, look for jerky that uses celery juice powder, which uses naturally occurring nitrates and nitrites to keep the meat fresh.
Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) is used as a flavor enhancer and preservative for years but has been associated with several negative characteristics.
Beef sticks are indeed healthy for most people looking for a quick, nutritious snack.
Although meat sticks can be part of a healthy diet for many, there are some that should be cautious. People with health conditions, such as high blood pressure and kidney disease, should consult a dietitian before consumption.
Beef sticks can be healthy, but you need choose the right option. So, the next time you're craving a beef snack, look for these qualities:
All of Karl Family Farms grass-fed beef sticks are made as healthy as possible. They use beef from free-roaming cattle, contain no chemicals or additives, and have a higher percentage of protein and lower amount of fat than average.
Oh, and the delicious, rich flavor? That part is just good for the soul.