Eat Empowered, Healthy Eating Tips, Healthy Snacking Ideas

This Former Junk Food is Now a High-Protein Snack

Here’s a phrase that might sound like an oxymoron: healthy beef jerky.

Traditionally, gas station jerkies like Slim Jims were straight-up junk food (not gonna lie…I had a weakness for these in my younger days!). They cured cheap meat with nitrates and nitrites (classified as “probably carcinogenic to humans” by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, by the way) and then loaded it with sodium, sugar, and artificial flavors and additives (um, yuck!).

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Those still exist, but there’s a whole new category of healthy beef jerky, made by companies using high-quality, grass-fed beef (and also organic chicken and turkey in some cases), which is higher in healthy fats like omega-3s and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) than grain-finished beef.

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These brands are dehydrating the meat or curing it with natural ingredients like salt and vinegar and skipping unhealthy additives. In many cases, they’re even adding additional nutritious ingredients, like antioxidant-rich spices and coconut oil. (Just keep an eye out for excess sugar, still.)

The result? A fast, easy high-protein snack that’s perfect for after a workout or to throw in your travel bag. You can also make your own at home, or check out these five healthy brands worth biting into.

5 Healthy Beef Jerky Brands to Try

Lorissa’s Kitchen

Made with 100 percent grass-fed beef and other clean ingredients, Lorissa’s flavors—like Korean Barbeque—are super delicious. The only downside is the sugar is a little high, so stick to a serving at a time.

Laura’s Lean Beef

Laura’s doesn’t have as many fancy flavors as others, but it’s made with meat that’s both grass-fed and certified USDA organic. It’s high protein and low sugar.

The New Primal

If Slim Jims were your jam, try The New Primal’s meat sticks, like the Cilantro Lime Turkey Sticks made with free-range turkey, sea salt, and antioxidant-packed spices or Habanero Pineapple, made with grass-fed beef.

Wilde

Wilde makes jerky-based protein bars with grass-fed beef and added healthy ingredients. Its Peach BBQ bar, for instance, also contains quinoa, chia seeds, coconut oil, and cinnamon.

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EPIC

If you love cured meat, EPIC makes it all—Chicken Sesame BBQ jerky, Venison Sea Salt snack strips, and Bison Bacon Cranberry bars. Not to mention bone broth, animal oils, and more, all of it produced with the highest, healthy standards—for both you and the planet.