I try to watch my salt intake, especially after learning all about the adverse effects of a high-sodium diet in my medical school classes. "Try" is definitely the operative word in that sentence, though, especially at those times when I crave something like beef jerky. Beef jerky, a health food, you ask? In many ways, it is! It's a great source of lean protein, with little sugar and a little bit of iron in there as well. The only problem is, well, the sodium.
Despite this fact, I decided to buy a 100-calorie package of Jack Link's Original Beef Jerky. It was $2.99 for one pack, but I couldn't help myself. Jack Link's jerky is described as being "slow cooked and mesquite smoked," and it tastes fantastic. It's chewy and a bit sweet, but salty and meaty. Some of the many reasons I love beef jerky: it's satisfying, it's chewy, and it's sweet and savory at the same time.
The ingredients in Jack Link's Original Beef Jerky are beef, water, sugar, and less than 2% of each salt, corn syrup solids, dried soy sauce (soybeans, salt, what), hydrolyzed corn and soy protein, monosodium glutamate, maltodextrin, flavorings, sodium erythorbate, and sodium nitrate. The fact that this has MSG in it definitely docks it a bit nutritionally. For the 53-gram package, there are 100 calories, 1 gram of fat (no sat or trans fats), 25 mg of cholesterol (8% of RDA), 740 mg of sodium (31% of the RDA), 4 grams of sugar, 18 grams of protein, and 10% of the RDA for iron (more info on their website). Good on the protein and fat, bad on the sodium and the MSG good definitely go.
I'm glad to see this is 100 calorie packs, because that way I can get my jerky fix for minimal calories and limit my sodium consumption at the same time (if I buy a big package, I'm liable to eat it all). Still, I like beef jerky, and while I enjoyed this brand - I'll have to keep looking for one with a little less sodium and no MSG - the review on Oh Boy Oberto Fat Free Beef Jerky was favorable and I think it lacks MSG, so that may be the one I try next. Why does beef jerky have to be so expensive though?!