We know you think beef jerky is downright delicious. That’s why you’re on this site — and that’s why this site exists!
But beef jerky is more than just a tasty treat. It’s also healthy, convenient, and practical, making it the perfect all-around functional snack.
And it’s got some hidden benefits that many people find shocking — in the best way possible.
Without further ado, here’s our ode to beef jerky: 6 reasons why it’s the best functional food for all kinds of situations and snackers.
6 Reasons Why Beef Jerky Is the Best Functional Food
1. Beef Jerky Is One of the Most Protein-Rich Foods Out There
Protein is one of the most important nutrients — and one of the hardest to find in a snack food.
Your body uses it to make new cells and repair damaged ones. In addition to fueling your body, it also boosts your metabolism to burn fat, helps you build muscle mass, reduces your blood pressure, and strengthens your bones.
And beef jerky is absolutely loaded with it.
On average, beef jerky is around 33% protein by weight: 100 grams of beef jerky contains around 33 grams of protein.
The average sedentary male needs 56 grams of protein a day, so just 100 grams of beef jerky would put him well over halfway to his daily goal — and that’s with just one snack!
When you eat protein-rich foods, your body starts to feel the effects right away. That’s why beef jerky is such a great midday pick-me-up: it’s an instant dose of energy and strength, powering you back up to full function when you feel worn down.
2. Beef Jerky Boosts Your Immune System
A weakened immune system doesn’t just make it more likely that you’ll get sick. It also reduces your energy levels, makes it harder to heal from injuries, and increases the production of stress hormones.
In other words, it breaks you down physically and mentally.
Consuming the right amounts of vitamins and minerals is critical to supporting a healthy immune system. But modern diets are often lacking in these immune-boosting nutrients, especially iron and zinc.
Iron is essential for cardiovascular health — without it, you’ll become anemic, resulting in fatigue and a significantly weakened immune response.
And zinc is needed for your body to produce new DNA and repair cells, especially immune cells. Without it, you can’t fight infections or heal wounds, leading to compounding health problems.
Beef jerky is loaded with both iron and zinc: 100 grams of jerky contains 30% of your daily iron and 70% of your daily zinc. It gives you an instant immune boost that few other snacks can provide, helping you get back on your feet after an illness or injury and preventing future damage.
3. Beef Jerky Is Compatible with Many Types of Diets
The snack aisle at the grocery store is filled with foods that, depending on your dietary restrictions, are off-limits — or even actively dangerous.
They’re loaded with sugar, gluten, soy, carbs, saturated fat, artificial flavors, and all kinds of allergens. If you’re not able to consume any or all of these, you know how hard it is to find snacks that are both safe and enjoyable to eat.
That’s where beef jerky comes in.
Beef is naturally gluten-free, and it’s easy to find beef jerky made without glutinous binders or preservatives. Ditto with soy — though some companies marinate their jerky with soy sauce, there are plenty that don’t.
If you’re concerned about carbs and sugar, rejoice: beef jerky is a low- or no-carb food, and low-sugar or sugar-free jerky is becoming more and more common. That’s great news for people with diabetes or those on the keto diet.
Even vegans and vegetarians can enjoy jerky: plant- and mushroom-based “beef” jerky hits the same spot as its meaty inspiration without spoiling a meat-free diet.
This makes jerky a truly universal snack. No matter what your dietary needs are, there’s a jerky out there for you.
4. Beef Jerky Is Compact and Lightweight Enough to Go Anywhere
If you’re on the go and short on space, beef jerky deserves a spot on your packing list. It’s more portable than pretty much any other snack, so you can always have a quick bite on hand.
Backpackers, campers, hunters, fishers, and boaters love how easy it is to fit beef jerky into their gear bags. It takes up way less room than a bag of trail mix, and it’s much lighter in weight as well.
But beef jerky’s lack of bulk doesn’t mean it lacks nutrition. Because it’s dehydrated, all the nutrients in the beef simply become more densely packed, giving you the same nourishment while occupying much less space.
5. Beef Jerky Is Easy to Store — and Lasts a Long Time
Most meaty foods require refrigeration so they don’t go bad. And even if they’re properly stored, their shelf life isn’t very long: between a few days and a few weeks, decreasing further every time the fridge is opened.
But because beef jerky is dried and preserved with salt, it doesn’t need to be refrigerated. Just keep it in a sealed container, like a mason jar or a resealable bag, and it’ll be just fine in your pantry or on your kitchen counter.
Depending on the ingredients used in the marinade and the temperature it’s stored at, jerky can last months or even years. No need to worry about eating it all before it goes bad — and besides, it’s so tasty that there probably won’t be any left when the expiration date rolls around!
Chip crumbs on your shirt, sugar granules on your fingers, cookie chunks on the floor… snacks tend to be messy and somewhat inconvenient to eat.
And once other people see you snacking, they’ll want in as well, generating even more of a mess.
But with beef jerky, you don’t have to deal with crumbs, residue, or other detritus. It’s as clean as a snack can get, so it’s perfect for eating while working, driving, wandering around, or just hanging out on your couch.
And sharing is as easy as tossing your pal a few pieces. You and your friends enjoying a treat that fuels your body, boosts your health, tastes delicious, and requires no cleanup — it doesn’t get any better than that!
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"You might be a redneck if you think that beef jerky and moon pies are two of the major food groups."
-- Jeff Foxworthy