It’s an amazing day to explore the potential health benefits of biltong.
What is biltong?
Biltong is a form of dried, cured meat that originated in Southern Africa.
Various types of meat are used to produce it, ranging from beef and game meats to filets of ostrich from commercial farms.
It is similar to beef jerky in that they are both spiced, dried meats, but their preparation methods vary significantly, which results in different flavors and textures.
The process of making biltong primarily involves cutting meat into strips, curing it with a mixture of vinegar, salt, sugar, coriander, and other spices, and then hanging it to air-dry.
Depending on preference, the biltong can be dried for a few days to a few weeks.
Once dried, it can be cut into slices and served.
Biltong is typically much thicker and less sweet than beef jerky, with a slightly tangy flavor due to the vinegar used in the curing process.
It’s often enjoyed as a high-protein snack, and it’s popular in many countries, particularly in Southern Africa.
Here’s a list of the potential health benefits of biltong:
- Rich In Protein
- Minimal Carbohydrate Content
- Provides Necessary Amino Acids
- Low-Fat Content
- Good Source Of Iron
- Abundant In Vitamin B12
- Supplies Zinc
- Potential Aid In Weight Control
- Free From Gluten
- Devoid Of Added Sugars
- Includes Creatine
Please keep reading if you want to learn more.
1. High In Protein
High-quality protein like that found in biltong is vital for many functions in the body.
Muscle Growth And Repair
Proteins are the building blocks of your muscles.
Consuming enough protein helps maintain muscle mass and promotes muscle growth when you do strength training.
High-protein foods like biltong can help you feel more full compared to foods high in fat and carbohydrates.
This can help manage appetite and potentially aid in weight loss or weight management.
Protein plays a crucial role in maintaining strong and healthy bones, which can be beneficial in preventing osteoporosis.
A high protein intake has been shown to boost metabolism significantly, helping you burn more calories throughout the day.
Promotes Recovery After Exercise
Consuming protein after a workout can help repair and rebuild muscle tissues, speed up recovery, and adapt to your exercise over time.
Essential For Body Functions
Protein is not only important for muscles but also for the production of enzymes, hormones, neurotransmitters, and various tiny molecules that serve important functions.
Remember, while biltong can be a great source of protein, it’s important to consume a balanced diet that includes a variety of different protein sources to ensure you’re getting all the essential amino acids and other nutrients your body needs.
2. Low In Carbohydrates
Let’s delve into why low-carb foods like biltong are beneficial, especially for certain dietary approaches:
Supports Weight Loss
A lower intake of carbs can help reduce appetite and promote feelings of fullness, contributing to weight loss.
By reducing carbs and replacing them with proteins and healthier fats, you cause your appetite to decrease and end up eating fewer calories.
Promotes Fat Burning
When carb intake is reduced, insulin levels lower, and the body enters a state of ketosis, where it starts burning fat for fuel instead of carbohydrates.
This is the basis for ketogenic and other low-carb diets.
Helps Control Blood Sugar And Insulin Levels
Eating fewer carbs can help control and stabilize blood sugar and insulin levels, which can be particularly beneficial for people with diabetes or insulin resistance.
May Improve Heart Health
Low-carb diets can help improve HDL (the “good”) cholesterol levels and reduce triglycerides, which are beneficial for heart health.
Beneficial For Certain Brain Disorders
Although the brain needs glucose, a portion of it can also burn ketones, which are formed during ketosis.
This has been extensively studied and is used as a treatment for epilepsy and other brain disorders.
Improves Digestive Health
Reducing the intake of certain types of carbs, especially refined and processed carbs, can benefit digestive health by preventing blood sugar spikes and promoting a healthier gut microbiome.
That said, while low-carb diets can have benefits, they aren’t for everyone, and they can be difficult to sustain long-term.
It’s also possible to eat a low-carb diet that’s high in unhealthy foods.
Therefore, it’s essential to choose whole, nutritious foods for the majority of your diet, regardless of your carb intake.
Biltong can be a good low-carb choice, but as it is also high in sodium, it should be consumed in moderation as part of a balanced diet.
3. Source Of Essential Amino Acids
The presence of all nine essential amino acids in biltong is a significant nutritional advantage.
Since the body cannot produce essential amino acids, we must get them from our diet.
Here’s a bit more about these essential amino acids and why they’re important:
This amino acid is needed for the growth and repair of tissues.
It’s also important for the maintenance of the myelin sheaths that act as protectors for nerve cells.
Part of the group known as branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), isoleucine is involved in muscle metabolism and is heavily concentrated in muscle tissue.
It’s important for immune function, hemoglobin production, and energy regulation.
Also a BCAA, leucine is critical for protein synthesis and muscle repair, regulates blood sugar levels, stimulates wound healing, and produces growth hormones.
This amino acid plays a major role in calcium absorption, building muscle protein, recovering from surgery or sports-related injuries, and the body’s production of hormones, enzymes, and antibodies.
Methionine plays an important role in metabolism and detoxification.
It’s also necessary for tissue growth and the absorption of zinc and selenium, minerals that are vital for health.
This amino acid plays a key role in the structure and function of proteins and enzymes and in the production of other amino acids.
Threonine is a principal part of structural proteins such as collagen and elastin, which are important components of the skin and connective tissue.
It also plays a role in fat metabolism and immune function.
Although it’s in trace amounts in the body, tryptophan is crucial in the production of serotonin, a chemical nerve that helps transmit nerve signals.
Serotonin affects mood and, indirectly, can help induce sleep and regulate appetite.
Like leucine and isoleucine, valine is a BCAA that stimulates muscle growth and regeneration and is involved in energy production.
The presence of all these essential amino acids in biltong underscores its nutritional value, particularly for those who are physically active or seeking high-quality sources of protein.
However, remember that it’s also important to maintain a balanced diet, including a variety of protein sources, to ensure you’re getting a broad spectrum of nutrients.
4. Low In Fat
Foods that are low in fat, like biltong, have several potential health benefits:
Fat is the most calorie-dense macronutrient, with 9 calories per gram compared to 4 calories per gram for proteins and carbohydrates.
So, choosing low-fat foods can help control your overall caloric intake, which can aid in weight management.
Diets high in saturated and trans fats can lead to high levels of LDL cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol), which can increase your risk of heart disease.
By consuming lean meats like biltong, you can reduce your intake of these potentially harmful fats.
Lower-fat diets can also aid in weight loss and management, as they typically contain fewer calories than high-fat diets.
Improved Digestive Health
High-fat foods can slow digestion, causing discomfort for some individuals.
Low-fat foods can be easier to digest and can prevent issues like acid reflux and other digestive conditions.
Blood Sugar Control
Protein and fat both help to slow the absorption of sugars into your bloodstream, which can help prevent spikes in blood sugar.
Biltong, being high in protein and low in fat, is a good snack choice for people looking to manage their blood sugar levels.
Lean cuts of meat are not only low in fat but are also typically high in other nutrients like protein, B-vitamins, and minerals.
However, while biltong can be a good choice for a low-fat snack, it’s important to note that not all fats are bad.
Healthy fats, like monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, are essential for your body to function properly and should be included as part of a balanced diet.
In addition, as biltong is high in sodium, it should be consumed in moderation.
5. Contains Iron
Iron is a crucial nutrient that plays several important roles in the body.
Red Blood Cell Production
The main function of iron in the body is to combine with protein and copper to make hemoglobin.
Hemoglobin, which is present in red blood cells, is responsible for transporting oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body.
Iron plays a key role in the production of energy from nutrients.
It also contributes to the transmission of nerve impulses — the signals coordinating the actions of different parts of your body.
Iron is found in muscle tissue and helps provide the oxygen muscles need for contraction and movement.
Brain Development And Function
Iron is essential for brain development and function.
It aids in the production of neurotransmitters and supports memory, attention span, and learning ability.
Immune System Support
Iron contributes to a healthy immune system by aiding in the growth of cells that are responsible for the immune response.
Biltong, being a source of iron, can contribute to these functions.
It’s particularly beneficial for individuals at risk of iron deficiency, such as pregnant women, menstruating women, vegans, vegetarians, and people with certain medical conditions.
However, it’s also important to balance iron intake, as excessive iron can lead to health problems.
Additionally, because biltong can be high in sodium, it should be eaten in moderation as part of a balanced diet.
📙 Ugu may also contain iron. On this page, you can learn more about how it can benefit your health.
6. High In Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 is a crucial nutrient that has several important roles in the body:
Red Blood Cell Formation
Vitamin B12 is essential for the production of red blood cells.
A deficiency can lead to a type of anemia called megaloblastic anemia, which results in fatigue and weakness.
Supports Bone Health
Some studies suggest that an adequate intake of vitamin B12 may support bone health.
It may play a role in preventing osteoporosis by helping with the body’s ability to use calcium and phosphorous.
Aids In Energy Production
Vitamin B12 helps transform the food we eat into glucose, which gives us energy.
Hence, it’s often used as an energy booster and in weight-loss programs.
Nervous System Health
Vitamin B12 plays a key role in the functioning of the brain and nervous system.
It’s involved in the synthesis of myelin, the insulating sheath around neurons that helps electrical signals pass effectively.
Prevents Birth Defects
Adequate levels of B12 are crucial during pregnancy.
B12 is vital for the formation of the neural tube.
It can help prevent major birth defects associated with the baby’s brain and spine development.
May Improve Mood And Symptoms Of Depression
Some studies suggest that vitamin B12 may improve mood and decrease symptoms of depression by aiding in the synthesis of brain chemicals like serotonin and dopamine.
Biltong, being a good source of vitamin B12, can contribute significantly to these functions.
It’s particularly beneficial for individuals who may have difficulty absorbing this vitamin, such as the elderly and those with certain digestive disorders.
However, biltong should still be consumed in moderation due to its high sodium content.
7. Source Of Zinc
Zinc is an essential trace mineral that the body needs for various functions.
Zinc plays a crucial role in maintaining the immune system.
It helps develop and activate T-lymphocytes, cells that help the body fight off infections and diseases.
Insufficient zinc intake can lead to a weakened immune response.
Zinc is involved in over 300 enzymatic reactions in the body, including those involved in metabolism.
It helps in the digestion and metabolism of nutrients such as carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.
Tissue Repair And Growth
Zinc is crucial for cell growth and division, wound healing, and the breakdown of carbohydrates.
It’s also essential for the senses of taste and smell.
During pregnancy, infancy, and childhood, the body needs zinc to grow and develop properly.
Zinc is needed for DNA synthesis, which is important for the process of cell division and the formation of new cells.
Zinc can be beneficial for a variety of skin conditions, including acne and wounds, due to its role in cell growth, inflammation response, and wound healing.
Zinc is present in high concentrations in the eye, particularly the retina, and it’s essential for vision.
It’s believed to play a role in maintaining the health of the retina and may also protect against age-related macular degeneration.
Zinc is important for bone health as it assists in the formation of bone-building cells and inhibits the excessive breakdown of bone.
Including a source of zinc like biltong in your diet can be beneficial in ensuring you meet your daily requirements of this essential mineral.
However, like other foods, biltong should be consumed in moderation as part of a balanced diet due to its high sodium content.
8. May Help With Weight Management
Biltong’s high protein content and low carbohydrate levels can play a significant role in weight management for several reasons:
Proteins are known to promote feelings of fullness more than carbohydrates or fats.
This increased satiety can help reduce overall caloric intake by reducing the desire to snack between meals or overeat.
The body uses more energy to metabolize protein compared to fat or carbohydrates, a phenomenon known as the thermic effect of food (TEF).
So, consuming high-protein foods like biltong may slightly boost your metabolic rate and calorie burning.
Preservation Of Muscle Mass
Consuming a sufficient amount of protein is essential for preserving muscle mass, especially when you’re losing weight.
Maintaining muscle mass can keep your metabolism functioning optimally.
Blood Sugar Regulation
Unlike high-carb foods that can cause a spike in blood sugar levels followed by a crash, protein has a minimal effect on blood sugar levels.
This can help prevent rapid fluctuations in blood sugar, reduce cravings, and help with weight control.
Low In Calories
Biltong, being a lean meat, is relatively low in calories, which can aid in maintaining a calorie deficit, an essential aspect of weight loss.
Supports Physical Activity
The high-quality protein in biltong supports muscle repair and growth, which can be particularly beneficial for those who are physically active.
Exercise is a key component of weight management, and proper protein intake can aid in recovery and performance.
Remember, while biltong can be a beneficial part of a diet aimed at weight management, it’s essential to consume a variety of foods to ensure you’re getting a wide range of nutrients.
It’s also important to consider other lifestyle factors, such as regular physical activity and adequate sleep, when managing weight.
Finally, due to its high sodium content, biltong should be consumed in moderation.
Biltong being gluten-free can be a significant benefit for certain individuals:
Suitable For People With Coeliac Disease
Coeliac disease is an autoimmune disorder where the ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine.
Biltong, being naturally gluten-free, is a safe food choice for people with this condition.
Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity
Some individuals who do not have coeliac disease may still have adverse reactions to gluten, a condition referred to as non-celiac gluten sensitivity.
For these people, consuming gluten can lead to symptoms like bloating, stomach discomfort, fatigue, and mental fog.
Biltong can be an appropriate snack for individuals with this sensitivity.
This is a neurologic condition where the ingestion of gluten can lead to difficulties with balance, coordination, and other motor functions.
Biltong, being gluten-free, is suitable for people with this condition.
While not the same as a gluten sensitivity or intolerance, people with a wheat allergy must avoid wheat proteins, which often coexist in foods containing gluten.
Biltong can be a safe choice for these individuals as well.
Some people choose a gluten-free diet because they believe it to be healthier or think it may aid in weight loss.
While the necessity of this for the general population is debated among nutritionists, for those who do choose this dietary path, biltong would be an approved food choice.
This is a skin condition linked to gluten consumption in certain susceptible individuals.
For those with this condition, a gluten-free diet, including foods like biltong, is typically recommended.
However, it’s important to note that while biltong is typically gluten-free, always check the label to ensure no gluten-containing ingredients have been added during the curing process.
And remember, due to its high sodium content, biltong should be consumed in moderation.
10. No Sugar
The absence of added sugars in biltong can contribute to its health benefits.
Consuming foods with no added sugars can be beneficial for weight management.
Added sugars contribute to the overall calorie content of a food without adding nutritional value, making it easier to consume more calories than you need.
Blood Sugar Control
Consuming foods with no added sugars can help prevent rapid spikes in blood sugar and insulin levels.
This can be particularly beneficial for people with diabetes or prediabetes or anyone looking to maintain stable energy levels throughout the day.
Consuming foods with no added sugars can be beneficial for dental health.
Sugar is a primary contributor to the development of cavities, as it provides food for harmful bacteria in the mouth.
A high intake of added sugars, particularly from sugary beverages, has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease.
Opting for foods with no added sugars, like biltong, can be a heart-healthy choice.
Reduced Risk Of Certain Diseases
A high intake of added sugars has been linked to an increased risk of certain diseases, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer.
Choosing foods without added sugars can help reduce these risks.
Improved Nutrient Intake
Foods without added sugar often provide more beneficial nutrients.
Biltong, for instance, is a good source of protein and provides important vitamins and minerals.
Remember, while biltong doesn’t contain added sugars, it does contain a high amount of sodium, which should be considered when adding it to your diet.
Always aim for a balanced diet that incorporates a variety of nutrient-dense foods.
📙 Yellow rice may also aid in weight loss. Learn more about how it can benefit your health on this page.
11. Contains Creatine
Creatine is a substance found naturally in muscle cells and is important for muscle energy production during high-intensity exercise.
It’s often taken as a supplement by athletes due to its benefits for muscle development and performance, but it can also be obtained through the diet, particularly from meat products like biltong.
Here’s how creatine can contribute to health and physical performance:
Enhances Muscle Strength And Power
Creatine helps to increase the production of ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which is the primary source of energy for muscle contractions.
This can lead to improvements in strength and power during high-intensity, short-duration exercises like weightlifting or sprinting.
Promotes Muscle Growth
Creatine has been shown to stimulate muscle growth, possibly through several mechanisms.
It can increase the water content of muscle cells, a process known as cell volumization, which can play a role in muscle growth.
It may also increase levels of hormones that promote muscle growth, such as IGF-1.
Creatine might aid in muscle recovery and inflammation reduction after exercise.
It has been linked to less muscle soreness and inflammation following strenuous exercise, as well as a faster recovery of muscle strength.
Supports Brain Health
While most known for its role in muscle energy metabolism, creatine also plays a role in brain health.
The brain requires a significant amount of ATP for energy, and creatine can help support this need.
Helps With Parkinson’s Disease
Preliminary research suggests that creatine might slow the progression of Parkinson’s disease, a condition characterized by a reduction in dopamine levels in the brain.
More research is needed in this area, but these initial findings show promise.
May Lower Blood Sugar Levels
Some research suggests that taking creatine might help reduce blood sugar levels, particularly when combined with exercise.
This could potentially be beneficial for people with type 2 diabetes or those at risk for this condition.
However, it’s important to remember that while biltong can be a good source of creatine, it should be consumed as part of a balanced diet, and its high sodium content should be considered.
For individuals considering creatine supplementation, it’s best to consult a healthcare provider or a nutritionist.
Biltong, a South African delicacy made by curing lean cuts of meat, is not just a tasty snack; it also packs a nutritional punch.
With its high-quality protein content, essential amino acids, and low levels of fat and carbohydrates, it’s a compelling choice for those focused on healthy eating or weight management.
In addition to these characteristics, biltong is rich in essential vitamins and minerals like vitamin B12, iron, and zinc, contributing to various aspects of our health, from red blood cell production and immune function to tissue growth and repair.
It’s also a good source of creatine, a substance known for enhancing muscle strength and power.
The fact that it’s usually gluten-free and doesn’t contain added sugar further broadens its appeal.
While these potential health benefits make biltong a valuable addition to a balanced diet, it’s essential to be mindful of its high sodium content.
As with all foods, moderation is key.
So whether you’re a long-time fan or you’re trying biltong for the first time, savor each bite knowing that you’re choosing a snack that is not only delicious but also packed with nutrients.
😊 My favorite potential health benefit of biltong is that it may be high in protein.
After reading about the keto diet, I gained a lot more respect for what protein can do for our bodies.
At school, I only thought of it as something that helped build muscles.
As you learn more about it, you’ll find out there’s a lot more it can do.
However, I don’t think I’ve tried biltong before.
I’ve tried beef jerky, though.
What’s your favorite potential health benefit of biltong?
I’ve also written about different snacks that may also have potential health benefits.
If you find this article interesting, please share it with your family and friends.
Please stay healthy and safe.
⛑️ Safety First
While the potential health benefits of biltong are numerous, it’s essential to approach them with a well-informed and cautious mindset.
Please remember that these are potential benefits, meaning they may vary based on individual health conditions, dietary needs, and the specific way biltong is prepared.
Although biltong is generally safe for most people to consume, there are certain individuals who may need to avoid or limit it.
Due to its high sodium content, those with hypertension or heart disease should consume it sparingly.
Additionally, individuals with kidney disease may need to limit their protein intake, including biltong.
It’s also worth noting that due to potential bacterial contamination during the curing process, pregnant women are often advised to avoid consuming biltong unless it’s thoroughly cooked.
Furthermore, some of the health benefits associated with biltong may be based on anecdotal evidence or require further scientific research for validation.
For instance, while many people claim that biltong aids in weight management or boosts physical performance, these effects may differ among individuals and may also depend on other lifestyle factors.
Therefore, before incorporating biltong into your diet, particularly if you have a pre-existing health condition or if you plan to consume it in large quantities, it’s highly recommended to speak with a healthcare provider or a registered dietitian.
They can provide personalized advice based on your specific dietary needs and health status.
Moreover, it’s crucial to do your own research and consult trusted sources when learning about the potential health benefits of any food, including biltong.
Professional advice should always be sought for any dietary changes, especially for those with medical conditions.
In all cases, a balanced diet rich in various nutrients, combined with regular exercise, forms the foundation of good health.
|Potential Health Benefits
|High In Protein
|Biltong aids in muscle growth and repair by providing essential nutrients.
|Low In Carbohydrates
|Biltong is ideal for individuals following low-carb and ketogenic diets due to its low carbohydrate content.
|Source Of Essential Amino Acids
|Biltong furnishes all nine essential amino acids that are required for various bodily functions.
|Low In Fat
|Biltong is made from lean cuts of meat, resulting in minimal fat content.
|Biltong contributes to the production of red blood cells and aids in oxygen transport in the body due to its iron content.
|High In Vitamin B12
|Biltong is high in vitamin B12, which is critical for nerve function, DNA production, and the formation of red blood cells.
|Source Of Zinc
|Biltong, being a source of zinc, plays an essential role in immune function, metabolism, and tissue growth and repair.
|May Help With Weight Management
|The high protein and low carb content of biltong can contribute to feelings of fullness and calorie control, potentially aiding in weight management.
|Biltong is a suitable choice for individuals with coeliac disease or those adhering to a gluten-free diet, as it is typically gluten-free.
|Biltong contains no added sugars, so it can assist in maintaining stable blood sugar levels.
|Biltong contains creatine, a substance known for improving muscle strength and power, and it also has potential benefits for brain health.