Is Beef Jerky Bad For You Or Just Misunderstood?

Beef jerky can affect your mental health

According to a 2018 study by Johns Hopkins Medicine, eating processed foods like beef jerky, salami, and hot dogs is strongly linked to mania, which is “characterized by hyperactivity, euphoria, and loss of sleep.” Researchers determined that the nitrates used to cure (preserve) meat are what cause manic episodes. The study also found that individuals with a history of serious psychiatric disorders had more than three times the likelihood of ever eating nitrate-cured meats than those without such a history. “.

The curing process of meat is step one in making beef jerky. To consider the meat cured, it is important that either sodium nitrate or the more common sodium nitrite is added. Sodium nitrite is responsible for both the distinctive flavor and color of beef jerky and it also prevents bacteria.

Is it possible to find a nitrate-free substitute for your favorite beef jerky? According to The Washington Post, some types of jerkies are labeled as containing “no nitrites” or “no nitrates added,” but that simply means sodium nitrite/nitrate werent used as additives in the product. The brands could have still used celery powder or celery juice, which are naturally rich in nitrates, resulting in the consumption of the same amount of nitrogen compounds.

Beef jerky has been linked to cancer

In 2015, the cancer agency of the World Health Organization (WHO) published a report that declared processed meat carcinogenic to humans. According to the report, eating 50 grams of processed meat on a daily basis raises the risk of colorectal cancer by 18 percent. This kind of cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths among adults in the United States and is estimated to be responsible for 53,200 deaths in 2020 alone, according to Colorectal Cancer Alliance. One ounce of beef jerky weighs about 28 grams, so eating even a little over two servings can be cause for concern.

However, a 2020 study by Queens University Belfast questioned WHOs blanket classification of “all” processed meat as carcinogenic. The researchers suggested that it was only the processed meat that used sodium nitrate that showed a strong link to colorectal cancer. Unfortunately, though, that does not bode well for beef jerky as without nitrates, there is no jerky.

The study showed that it would be prudent to consume no more than 70 grams (about 2 teaspoons) of nitrates/nitrites. According to the British Nutrition Foundation, this is “equivalent to a piece of steak about the size of a pack of cards” or “a quarter-pounder beef burger” when it comes to red or processed meat.

Beef jerky is shrinking the Amazon rainforest

Its hard to fathom that a dried meat snack could be partially responsible for climate change. But, as with everything, theres a ripple effect when buying packs of beef jerky. According to Big Johns Beef Jerky (via Foodbeast), it takes 2.5 pounds of beef to make just one pound of beef jerky. The Union of Concerned Scientists, a non-profit organization, revealed in a 2016 study that beef contributes the most to tropical deforestation, especially in South America, as forests are destroyed to make room for beef pastures. The Guardian reported in 2019 that “thousands of hectares of Amazon [are] being felled every year to provide meat for world markets.”

With more land needed to raise livestock, more land must also be used to grow the animals’ food, like soy, which furthers the deforestation problem. According to the report, “deforestation-risk beef,” or beef raised in this way, has already entered the United States “in the form of processed beef, such as beef jerky.”

According to a research by the World Resources Institute (via Climate Central), “beef is highly inefficient to produce because only 1 percent of the feed cattle consume is converted to calories that people consume from eating beef.” For every unit of protein that it provides, it generates more greenhouse emissions and uses more water and land than any other “commonly consumed food.”

You may not live as long if you eat beef jerky

On average, an American eats five servings, or 17 ounces, of red and processed meat per week, according to Harvard Health. “This is particularly alarming, because recent research indicates eating 3 1/2 more servings of meat per week is associated with a higher risk of death,” the 2019 article explained.

The research published in The BMJ revealed that there was enough evidence to suggest that higher processed meat (like beef jerky) consumption is associated with increased risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and mortality. Processed meat often contain saturated fat, carcinogens, sodium, and preservatives, which have adverse effects on your health.

According to the study, a decrease in red meat consumption over time was accompanied by an increase in the consumption of healthy alternatives. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020, the best sources of protein are seafood, legumes, nuts, and seeds.

Beef jerky is loaded with sodium

Sodium is essential to maintain your bodys fluid balance and maintain muscle function, but you dont need a lot of it. This is why United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends consuming no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium (one teaspoon) per day. Maintaining this limit could be a challenge when processed foods like beef jerky are part of your everyday diet. One ounce of beef jerky contains a whopping 590 milligrams of sodium — thats 25 percent of the daily recommendation.

The American Heart Association explained that when there is too much sodium in the bloodstream, it draws water into the blood vessels, increasing the total amount of blood (volume) inside the blood vessels. Blood pressure rises as more blood flows through your blood vessels. Additionally, those who have high blood pressure run the risk of experiencing a heart attack or stroke. The maximum recommended daily sodium intake, per the association, is 2,300 milligrams, but the ideal limit is only 1,500 milligrams.

Beef jerky may raise your cholesterol

As is common knowledge, a high level of cholesterol is bad for your heart. It leads to the formation of plaque that sticks to the walls of your arteries and in some extreme cases, blocks them — ultimately leading to a heart attack. What increases the level of cholesterol in your blood is the saturated or “bad” fats, which is high in some meats, dairy products, deep-fried foods, and processed foods, including beef jerky.

For example, one ounce of beef jerky contains 3.1 grams of saturated fat. According to American Heart Association, the recommended daily limit of saturated fat intake is 13 grams. Citing a study by Jama Internal Medicine, The New York Times explained that by simply replacing five percent of the calories that you normally get from animal fat with polyunsaturated fats, like in fish and walnuts, you can reduce your total mortality risk by 27 percent!

Beef jerky contributes to the risk of food-borne illnesses

In the past, establishments such as Whittingtons Jerky, Inc. and Central Valley Meat Co. have recalled their beef jerky, citing a possible contamination with Salmonella bacteria, which causes one million food-borne illnesses in the United States every year. Salmonella can survive on beef if it is not cooked to a minimum temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Whats even worse than ingesting bacteria, though, is ingesting drug-resistant bacteria. For years, ranchers had been using antibiotics to make animals grow quicker and larger. However, in 2017, the FDA stepped in and prohibited the use of antibiotics for growth promotion, The New York Times reported. Overusing antibiotics can breed drug-resistant bacteria, which can be transferred to humans through raw or undercooked meat. Despite the ban, experts revealed a “giant loophole” that allows farmers to buy antibiotics by simply stating theyre used for disease prevention instead of growth promotion.

According to Avinash Kar, a senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council, livestock actually receives 70% of the antibiotics produced for human diseases. According to the article, humans consume the meat that has been tainted with antibiotics and bacteria that are resistant to drugs, which can have negative effects.

Beef jerky ads may negatively influence men’s diets

Vegan activist Carol J. Adams detailed on her site the many ways beef jerky is advertised as a “manly” product, citing an edible beef jerky bouquet promoted as a potential Valentines Day gift for a man. She explained, “[The] sexual politics of meat is expressed in new commodities whose purpose is to reassert that manly men eat meat.” In the past, beef jerky brands have promoted their products to appeal to men, just like several snack foods that have adopted similar marketing tactics, adding to the socially-constructed ideas around masculinity and food.

The Washington Post explained that “were constantly bombarded with advertising and social messaging telling us that eating like a bird and dining on salad is feminine, while eating large portions and plenty of red meat is manly.” And this can spell trouble, especially for men. “An individual might make unhealthy eating choices in an attempt to be more masculine — a change in behavior that could have serious health implications,” WaPo revealed. This may at least partially explain why men are at a higher risk of heart disease and cancer.

Is Beef Jerky Bad For You? (IT DEPENDS ON THIS ONE THING) | LiveLeanTV


Is beef jerky really bad for you?

In conclusion, although beef jerky is a nutritious treat, it is best to consume it in moderation. Most of your diet should come from whole, unprocessed foods. Even though beef jerky is healthy, try to limit your intake because it contains a lot of sodium and could pose the same health risks as eating processed meats.

Is jerky healthier than chips?

Chips vs. Beef Jerky Both beef jerky and chips are savory, salty, and delectable snacks. But because beef jerky contains more protein, less fat, less sugar, and fewer calories than chips, it is a much healthier alternative. Making small adjustments when trying to live a healthy lifestyle can have a significant impact.

Is beef jerky good or bad for weight loss?

Known for its high protein and low carbohydrate content, beef jerky It is an excellent weight-loss snack if consumed in moderation. If you eat too much, the high sodium content could make you gain weight.

Why is beef jerky so addictive?

Because of its high sugar content, beef jerky has the potential to be addictive (source), unlike our meat sticks. One reason you might keep buying more of our beef jerky is the sugar content!

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