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Is Beef Jerky Good for You?

Beef jerky is a cured beef product that does not need refrigeration, so you can take it on hikes or road trips, or store it in your desk or backpack. The snack food does contain essential nutrients. However, read the nutrition label to know whether it is a good fit for your diet.

Lean beef jerky, or dried beef, is high in protein but low in fat and calories. A 28-gram portion of beef jerky provides about 13 gram protein and 80 calories and less than 2 grams fat, with less than 1 gram of unhealthy saturated fat. Beef jerky is low in carbohydrates, with about 5 grams carbohydrates per serving. Be sure to choose lean beef jerky instead of beef sticks, which are high in fat, saturated fat and calories.

Beef jerky is good for you in that it provides about 1.8 milligrams iron in a 28-gram serving, or 10 percent of the daily value. Iron deficiency leads to iron-deficiency anemia. Individuals at higher risk for iron deficiency include women of child-bearing age. The iron in beef is in its heme form, which is the form of iron that is easiest for your body to absorb.

Beef jerky provides 1 microgram of vitamin B12 per 100 grams, which is more than 15 percent of the 6 micrograms that you need in one day. Vitamin B12 is essential for healthy red blood cells. Vitamin B12 deficiency is uncommon and unlikely if you regularly consume fortified cereals or animal products such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs or dairy products.

Beef jerky may not be good for you if you are restricting your salt or sodium intake. Salt is used as a preservative and to add flavor to beef jerky. A 28-gram portion of dried beef may have 626 milligrams of sodium. A healthy adult should have no more than 2,300 mg sodium per day; if you are on a low-sodium diet, you should have no more than 1,500 mg daily. A high-sodium diet may lead to high blood pressure and a higher risk for stroke.

This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.