5 Beef Jerky Companies That 'Healthify' Junk Food

The quest to find a reasonably healthy option for snack food is here and it's delicious! Believe it or not, beef jerky is considered to be a smart "junk food" option that you can feel less guilty about indulging in. The high amount of protein, iron and zinc in this carnivorous snack provide enough energy to help you power through a day full of endless physical activity and vigorous workouts, and can also serve as a convenient and portable snack to take along for busy days!

beef jerky

A one-ounce portion of beef jerky contains about 116 calories, 9 grams of protein, 2.3 milligrams of zinc (17 percent of your daily value), and 3 grams of carbs (which are mainly from sugars added during processing). The downside to this convenient snack is the fat and sodium content. Some beef jerky brands can have up to 7 grams of fat, but healthier brands can have less than one gram of fat per ounce. When choosing beef jerky as a snack option, make sure to pick lean options that contain little fat because the unsaturated fat in beef can increase blood cholesterol or the risk of diabetes. The high sodium content in beef jerky is added to help preserve the meat, extend the shelf life and enhance the flavor — be sure to pick the brand with the least amount of sodium!

Some beef jerky companies pride themselves on using all-natural ingredients to preserve the meat while others focus more on the treatment of cattle to give consumers a piece of mind. Check out these artisanal beef jerky companies that are worth picking up on your next grocery store run!

1. KRAVE® Jerky: This high-protein, low-calorie snack is recommended for athletes, outdoor enthusiasts, or anyone on the run. It does not contain any nitrates or artificial flavors, has 8-12 grams of protein and less than 90 calories per serving. The recipes, meat selection and cooking process used for KRAVE's products have less sodium, cholesterol and calories than competing lean jerky brands. Even Jillian Michaels likes KRAVE! Convinced to give them a try? Click here to check them out!

Photo Credit: Graphis.com
(Photo: Graphis.com)

>> Click here to watch our interview with Jillian Michaels!

2. Golden Valley® Natural: This company claims to have the healthiest beef jerky option on the market for several reasons: Their products contain high amounts of protein and low amounts of fat, are gluten-free, use no artificial ingredients, use no added hormones to their 100% organic-fed cattle, contain no MSG to help preserve the meat, contain no nitrates to help improve the flavor, and are Paleo-friendly. Whew. Overall, this snack is considered to be a clean eating snack option that is guaranteed to satisfy any beef jerky lover. Click here to read more!

Photo Credit: Vitacost
(Photo: Vitacost)

3. Shurky Jurky™: This revolutionary sustainable artisan snack company makes beef jerky that is 100 percent primal, Paleo and gluten-free! They make their product from scratch using real fruit and without any refined sugars, preservatives, additives or preservatives. Click here to read more about their nutritional information. Not sure why using sodium nitrates is unhealthy? Click here to read more!

Photo Credit: Shurky Jerky
(Photo: Shurky Jurky)

4. SlantShak: This company produces beef jerky made from 100 percent grass-fed cattle sustainably raised by small family farmers who commit to raising their cows on-pasture without using growth-promoting hormones or antibiotics. They believe that great beef is a result of taking good care of livestock (which includes everything from breeding, feeding and providing a good living environment). Positive conscious, full satisfaction! Click here to check them out.

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>> Click here to read more about the difference between grass-fed and grain-fed beef.

5. Primal People®: This company caters to anyone from animal-lovers, artists, imaginers, environmentalists, hikers and the like. Primal Strips, which are meatless vegan jerky, were voted the best new vegetarian snack by VegNews. This unique and delicious snack uses soy, seitan and shitake mushrooms and contains no GMOs, cholesterol, preservatives and artificial colors — plus it has high amounts of protein. It's marketed at a low price and is available In a variety of different flavors — click here to check it out!

Photo Credit: Primalspiritfood.com
(Photo: Primal Spirit Food)