Beef jerky used to be the ultimate bro food. But this gas station staple’s macho image isn’t so cut-and-dried anymore. The Paleo movement fueled a new interest in the portable protein, especially higher-end versions made from tender, grass-fed cuts with fewer preservatives.
Ready-to-eat non-perishable snacks tend to be mostly carb-based, so new, non-leathery jerkies are a great savory option. But is the stuff really good for you? The answer is yes, especially if you’re a woman. It’s full of protein and minerals such as iron, zinc, and vitamin B12, all things women tend to skimp on, says Leslie Bonci, R.D., who owns Active Eating Advice, a nutrition consulting company in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
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While “grass-fed” is the latest buzzword on pouches of dried meat, the nutritional difference is only slight. “If you want more omega-3s, try salmon jerky,” suggests Bonci. She likes jerkies made from lean meats like poultry, or those made with beans and veggies in the mix, so you get your fix of produce and protein simultaneously. (If you prefer straight-up beef jerky, she recommends pairing it with fresh fruit, nuts, or veggies to get in your fiber and make it a complete snack.) Some of her favs (and ours) follow: