Today, July 18th is National Hot Dog Day and as a registered dietitian nutritionist, I understand fully the health implications from consuming these overly processed products on a regular basis. Too much of any food, including hot dogs, is bound to sabotage your diet -- no matter who you are, or what health condition you are in!
Classic or traditional all-American hot dogs are made of pork, beef or a combination of meats. They contain about 150 to 180 calories per link. And while that may not seem like a lot, the sodium, fat and unhealthy ingredients are where to focus. One link has on average contains 14 grams of total fat, full of unhealthy nitrates and nitrites, 5 grams of saturated fat and 400 to 500 milligrams of sodium, which is nearly 20 percent of the daily recommendation.
So, as you celebrate National Hot Dog Day - why not consider some healthier alternatives to the traditional hot dog?
All Beef Hot Dogs
While this isn’t the healthiest alternative, it is still a healthier option than the classic dog. Most of these all beef hot dogs contain beef, spices, and that’s about it. Some of these beef dogs are free of nitrates and have only 70 calories and 6 grams of fat. Organic versions of these types of dogs are also available. Be sure to review ingredient labels thoroughly before making your selection if an all-beef hot dog is what you crave.
Veggie dogs are popular among vegetarians and meat-eaters alike. Many may be surprised that veggie dogs can be delicious and satisfying. An average veggie dog contains 180 calories and 8 grams of fat. While most of them can contain a hefty amount of sodium, most of them do not contain nitrates and nitrites in the same manner that most classic hot dogs contain.
Chicken or Turkey Dogs
Chicken and turkey dogs have come a long way since their inception and are a preferred dog of choice by many people nowadays. Some brands today have successfully created a great tasting poultry dog without nitrates and nitrates and without exceeding sodium 300-400 mg of sodium. Check the labels closely to see if the one you choose fits the bill.
Classic Hot Dog with ”Smart Toppings”
If you are one of those people who simply cannot resist the lure of the classic hot dog, at least be proactive about the hot dog toppings. Keep in mind the sodium level of the hot dog, and aim to limit the high sodium toppings like chili, cheese and ketchup. Mustard, onions and dill relish are much healthier and lower sodium options!