the health benefits of biltong

Is Biltong Healthy? The Health Benefits of Biltong

When we're trying to eat better or stay fit, it's easy to start off strong with salads and fruits, but those cravings for something more indulgent often sneak back in. When that happens, finding a healthy alternative can be a challenge. That's where biltong comes in. It's a fantastic option that's both delicious and full of nutrients, making it easier to stick to your goals without sacrificing flavour.


Is Biltong Healthy?

When it comes to healthy snacking, biltong is an excellent choice. It's high in protein, low in fat and sugar, and packed with nutrients. Whether you're on the go or at home, biltong is a convenient and delicious way to stay on track with your health goals.


The Health Benefits of Biltong:

So, why is biltong such a great choice, and what specific health benefits does it offer? Let's take a closer look.


Biltong is Packed with Essential Nutrients and Vitamins

Biltong is cured and spiced before being air-dried, which helps it keep all the essential nutrients and vitamins our bodies need. Unlike beef jerky, which is smoked at high temperatures for hours, biltong doesn't lose these important nutrients. This makes biltong a more nutritious snack option.

A typical bag of biltong is about 50% natural protein (ours is 60% protein). This can vary depending on the brand, drying method, and fat content, but that's the average. Biltong also provides 35% of your daily iron needs, as well as other vital nutrients like zinc and B vitamins.

With just 82 calories in a 30g serving, biltong is a guilt-free snack option. Plus, one bag contains just 2% of the recommended daily fat intake, making it a great low-fat snack. The small amount of fat helps absorb fat-soluble vitamins and provides energy, so you can enjoy it guilt-free.

Its low-fat and low-carb profile makes it perfect for maintaining a balanced diet. Whether you’re looking for a high-protein boost or a nutritious snack, biltong fits the bill.


  1. Extremely Low in Saturated Fats:

Biltong is very low in carbs and saturated fats, typically averaging around 2%, making it a popular choice for various low-fat and low-carb diets. It's a great fit for the Paleo Diet, the Dukan Diet, the ultra-low-fat-diet, the Low-Carb Diet, and many other popular dietary plans.

Because it is low in saturated fats, biltong can help keep your cholesterol levels healthy by reducing the intake of fats that contribute to bad cholesterol, as long as you eat it in moderation.

Biltong is high in Vitamin B12 which is essential for healthy blood cells and successful cell replication (Source).

The high protein content and low carbohydrate value mean that a few snack bags of biltong per day could help you get to your daily protein goal quite easily.

  1. Ideal Sugar-Free Snack:

Biltong is a great sugar-free snack because no sugar is added during its preparation. Its low carbohydrate content helps keep your blood sugar levels steady. The natural spices used to flavour biltong, like salt, pepper, vinegar, coriander, and paprika, are familiar and healthy, making it a tasty and nutritious choice. 

  1. A Natural Alternative to Processed Protein Food:

Biltong, often made from grass-fed, ethically-raised meat, is an excellent alternative to processed protein foods. It contains all nine essential amino acids, including valine, leucine, and isoleucine, offering a complete nutritional profile without the added sugar, fat, and calories common in processed options. Biltong delivers the ideal amount of protein your body needs, without unnecessary ingredients (Source)

  1. Perfectly Fits into Dietary Restrictions and Preference:

Biltong is highly versatile and fits into various dietary requirements, whether you're on a gluten-free, Paleo, or Keto diet. For those on a Keto diet, biltong is a perfect high-protein, low-carb option, helping maintain ketosis, where the body burns fat for energy instead of carbohydrates.

Since biltong is not processed, it is also suitable for the Paleo diet, which focuses on nutrient-dense, natural foods. Its preparation avoids processed ingredients and artificial additives, making biltong a convenient and healthy snack for those following the Paleo lifestyle.


Hard to Find a Snack that is Healthy but Tasty:

Finding a snack that is both healthy and tasty can be a challenge, but biltong fits the bill perfectly. It’s flavoured with natural spices like salt, pepper, vinegar, coriander, and paprika, making it delicious without compromising on health. These spices enhance the taste, making biltong a satisfying and nutritious snack option.


The Ultimate Muscle Fuel

Biltong is rich in protein, essential for muscle repair and growth. Getting enough protein supports the creation of new muscle proteins, helping you recover and grow stronger after workouts. With all nine essential amino acids, it’s perfect for muscle protein synthesis.

Low in carbs and fats, biltong is a lean protein source, ideal for building muscle while maintaining or reducing body fat. 

Unlike whey protein, which absorbs quickly, biltong digests slowly, providing a sustained release of amino acids for longer-lasting muscle maintenance and growth.

Plant-based proteins often need to be combined to achieve a complete amino acid profile, but biltong naturally contains all essential amino acids, simplifying muscle growth. 

Additionally, biltong retains more natural nutrients and lacks the added sugars and preservatives found in other dried meats like Jerky, making it a healthier, more effective option for muscle growth.


Is Biltong Healthier than Jerky?

Both biltong and jerky are high in protein and offer various health benefits. However, biltong is generally healthier due to its lower sodium content and cleaner production process. It has fewer preservatives and additives and a lower sugar content, as jerky recipes often include sugar or sweeteners in the marinade.

Biltong's preparation process maintains nutrients better than the higher-temperature drying method used for jerky, making it slightly richer in certain vitamins and minerals. For a detailed comparison between the two, check out our comprehensive guide here.


How Healthy Is It during Pregnancy?

Biltong is a nutritious, high-protein snack packed with essential nutrients like iron and vitamin B12. However, pregnant women should avoid it due to the risk of bacterial contamination, such as Listeria. For the general population, its low additive content and complete amino acid profile make it a healthy choice when included as part of a balanced diet.


Is Biltong Safe for Children to eat?

Biltong can be a safe and nutritious snack for children if certain precautions are taken. In South Africa, it’s common for parents to take their children to the local biltong shop instead of the sweet shop, stocking up on healthy snacks or making it themselves at home. To ensure safety, biltong should be cut into small, manageable pieces to avoid choking hazards and consumed in moderation due to its high salt content. Choosing biltong with minimal additives or making homemade versions allows better control over ingredients. As part of a balanced diet, biltong can provide essential protein and nutrients beneficial for children’s growth and development.


Other Key Benefits:

Biltong is a convenient snack that's easy to store. Its cured and dried nature makes it perfect for long hikes, as it has a long shelf life. It’s also great for gym-goers looking for a protein-rich snack that won’t spoil in their gym bags.

Beyond these benefits, biltong is a healthy snack option for those with various dietary needs. It can improve and maintain concentration during work and even serve as a teething aid for children.

Incorporating biltong into your regular diet makes sense for you and your family. It’s the ideal snack whether you need gluten-free, high-protein, low-carb, or low-sugar options. With a variety of styles and flavours available, which one will you choose?

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Is Biltong Healthy? The Health Benefits of Biltong

WRITTEN BY Petra Nakashian

Petra Nakashian is a dedicated health and wellness blogger who runs Be Healthy Now, a site focusing on natural health remedies, nutrition, and toxin-free living, and Proper Healthy Living, a site designed to help users explore the world of nutrition from a balanced perspective. Her journey into health started with a personal mission to find better ways to live a balanced life, free from toxins. Petra is an advocate for holistic living, enjoys cycling and hiking, and shares her insights to help others achieve their wellness goals. Through her well-researched articles, she aims to inspire and guide her readers towards healthier lifestyles.

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