If you love spicy snacks on the run, nothing beats the goodness of shiitake or lean meat slivers that arrive dried and non-chewy in a munchie bag. Jerky or dehydrated foods find their origin in a form of meat preservation by the Quecha Indians of the Inca empire that flourished in South America in 1550. But is there any nutritional benefit to consuming jerky foods that stand dehydrated?
Traditionally, beef and red meat were the sole contenders for the jerky brigade. Then hopped on duck, kangaroo, elk, fancy fungi, trout and more, as convenience foods slowly became a permanent fixture in our urban lifestyles. Says Mumbai-based celebrity nutritionist Neha Sahaya, “Drying or dehydrating is one of the oldest ways to preserve foods. It makes them last longer and keeps them safe to eat. Yet you must consume in moderation, as nutrition-wise, the drying process can destroy vitamins A and C. This foodstuff also comes laced with high levels of sodium, just like processed meats. It is high in calories as the food shrinks and nutrients become more concentrated. Most of your diet should come from fresh, real and whole, unprocessed foods.”
Jerky foods are highly processed, having gone through many levels of factory alterations with the addition of artificial preservatives as well. “These meats have been stripped of their fat content, and nutrient value, and made tasty artificially. This makes them hard to digest, compromising on gut health and overall immunity,” explains culinary nutrition coach Eshanka Wahi, founder of Eat Clean with Eshanka, who shuttles between Delhi and Dubai. “These must not substitute fresh produce, hormone-free meats that form the clean protein in your diet,” she advises.
Shilpi Madan for The New Indian Express