Beef Jerky Nutrition Facts

Calories, Carbs, and Health Considerations of Beef Jerky

Beef jerky is beef that's had most of the fat removed and either cut into strips or chopped fine and formed into strips. The meat is then marinated or flavored with a mixture of seasonings and salt and finally, dehydrated and packaged.

Beef jerky isn't generally thought of as a health food, but it can be a good source of protein. However, it's almost always high in sodium.

There are healthier types of jerky available, otherwise, it's best to eat beef jerky only occasionally.

Nutrition Facts

Beef Jerky Nutrition Facts

Serving Size 1 large piece (20 grams)
Per Serving% Daily Value*
Calories 82 
Calories from Fat 46 
Total Fat 5 
Saturated Fat 2.2g11%
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g 
Monounsaturated Fat 2.3g 
Cholesterol 10mg  3%
Sodium 443mg18%
Potassium 119mg  3%
Carbohydrates 2.2g   1%
Dietary Fiber 0.4g6%
Sugars 1.1g 
Protein 6.6g 
Vitamin A 0% · Vitamin C 0%
Calcium 0% · Iron 6%

*Based on a 2,000 calorie diet

    Carbs in Beef Jerky

    One piece of beef jerky pieces has contains about 82 calories and just over two grams carbohydrate. This is a low-carbohydrate food. Much of the carbohydrate in beef jerky comes from sugar (1.1 grams) and some comes from fiber (less than half gram).

    The estimated glycemic load of a single piece of beef jerky is one. 

    Many people eat more than a single serving of jerky when they consume the snack.

     One cup of beef jerky pieces has 369 calories, 30 grams protein, 23 grams fat, and about 10 grams carbohydrate. 

    Fats in Beef Jerky

    There are about five grams of fat in a single piece of beef jerky.  The fat is a blend of saturated fat and monounsaturated fat.

    Protein in Beef Jerky

    Beef jerky is a good source of protein providing almost seven grams per piece.

    Micronutrients in Beef Jerky

    A single serving of beef jerky does not provide substantial vitamins or minerals except for sodium.

    One cup of beef jerky pieces has about 537 milligrams potassium, 7 milligrams zinc, but also more than 1800 milligrams sodium. Nutrition information may vary based on what's used to flavor the beef jerky.

    A cup of beef jerky is also high in iron, magnesium, vitamin B12, and choline

    Health Considerations

    Eating red meat or processed meat has been associated with health problems such as a higher risk of some types of cancer. It's hard to know for sure, though, how bad red or processed meat is for your health because the studies that show this association also indicate that people who eat the most red meat also tend to have more unhealthy habits than non-meat eaters.

    Beef jerky typically has less fat than fresh red meat, it still can be a substantial source of fats, including saturated fat. Since beef jerky is usually high in sodium, it may not be a good choice for people who have high blood pressure or have been told they should avoid salt and sodium.

    Common Questions

    Is beef jerky good for low carb diets?

    Like any meat, beef jerky is low in carbohydrates so it will fit into a low carb diet as a snack.

    That doesn't mean it's good for any diet though. It's just low in carbs.

    What are some other types of jerky?

    Jerky can also be made from poultry such as turkey or chicken, wild game such as venison, or lower fat versions of red meat such as elk or bison. Salmon jerky is quite popular and doesn't have all the saturated fat. These alternative forms of jerky are still high in protein but have a healthier fat profile. However, they may still be high in sodium unless you specifically buy a brand made with low-sodium ingredients.

    Are nitrites bad for me?

    A lot of beef jerky brands use sodium nitrite as a preservative.

    Sodium nitrite has been put forth as one possible reason that eating processed meats may cause cancer. Nitrites are also present in other foods, such as some veggies, fruit, and dairy products, so it's hard to know for sure, but it's probably not something you need to worry about.

    Recipes and Preparation Tips

    Beef jerky is sold in most stores that sell any kind of food. Grocery stores and convenience stores also sell beef jerky. If you need to watch your salt intake, look for brands that are low in sodium. Beef jerky made from grass-fed beef may have a healthier fat profile and still be high in protein and very low in carbohydrates.

    Dehydration is a very old way of preserving foods and as long as it's done right, beef jerky can be stored at room temperature for quite a long time, although it still needs to be packaged properly. Keep beef jerky in a cool dry space and refrigerate any leftover jerky after you've opened the packaging.

    It's not hard to make your own beef jerky at home and it's a good way to control all the ingredients and the sodium content. A dehydrator is perfect for making beef jerky, but you can use your oven at a low temperature and get similar results.

    The biggest concern with making beef jerky is the possibility for contamination of salmonella and E. coli. Since dehydrators don't heat the meat up high enough to kill bacteria, the United States Department of Agriculture suggests heating your beef jerky meat to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit before dehydrating it. In addition, it's a good idea to keep homemade jerky in the refrigerator to prevent any bacterial growth.

    Allergies and Interventions

    If you have a meat allergy, you should avoid beef jerky. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, If you experience a stuffy nose or if your nose begins to run after eating meat, you may have a meat allergy. You might also become nauseated or develop a rash.

    If you suspect an allergy to meat, avoid beef jerky and get personalized advice from a qualified medical professional.

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