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Are hot dogs really bad for you?

Updated on March 14, 2011

Hot dogs: good or bad?



While most people love hot dogs, when it comes to health, hot dogs do not really love you back. Often listed as one of the unhealthiest foods on earth, frankfurters surely do not have a great reputation. Yet, not many people can resist a bite once they spot the hot dog stand awaiting customers on a commercial lot corner. As tasty and mouth watery as they can be, you may feel a bit deluded once you learn what you are getting other than ketchup, mustard or sauerkraut.

Hot dogs would not be too bad for you if they did not contain plenty of fat, salt, cholesterol, sodium, and nitrates. Take these away, and you may be left with just a bun. As sad as it is, none of these components are good for you.

Many hot dogs contain up to 30% fat, something people on diets may not want to know. Of course, there are hot dogs with less fat, so it is worth to take a look at the labels.

Nitrates which are mainly used to preserve and enhance flavors, tend to transform themselves once ingested into sodium nitrites which are very well known as cancer causing agents. They also have a reputation of increasing risks of heart disease and causing a sudden drop in blood pressure.

Most hot dogs are made of beef, pork, chicken and turkey, with many having a combination of meats. The term ''meat by products'' found on some hot dog labels means that the hot dog is made also of other products such as hearts, livers and kidneys. If you do not find these ingredients attractive, next time you decide to purchase hot dogs make sure to read the label carefully. Sometimes the term meat by products may be substituted by the colorful term ''variety meats''.

While these health concerns may have you considering crossing off the list hot dogs for all summer, think again. Truth is, if you eat them only occasionally and choose wisely, they may not be that harmful. You want to look for hot dogs labeled as  ''all beef, all pork, all chicken and all turkey'' to avoid ingesting byproducts. These pure hot dogs nutritionally can offer some protein. There are also nitrate free, organic hot dogs for those very concerned for their health. Look for these hot dogs in the meat section next time.

Hot dogs need not to be  banned from your diet. As with every food, good choices and moderation are the secret for maintaining a healthy lifestyle while getting to enjoy every now and then some ''transgressions.''


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    • profile image

      Adelaide 5 years ago

      Most Fats are actually good for you. "Butter is better!"- Julia Child

    • profile image

      XXX 5 years ago

      I eat mostly the cheap brand hot dogs and buy them in quantity. I normally buy the 30 piece hot dog package for $6. It the best bargain!

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      debra kay levi and carlena cavanaugh 6 years ago

      i think hotdogs are so bad for my dad. love carlena

    • profile image

      Christina 6 years ago

      Oscar Meyer sells Nitrate Free hot dogs.

    • profile image

      KH 6 years ago

      Everything is bad for you, everything gives you cancer, so eat up.

    • profile image

      Cassidy Melby 7 years ago

      I think hot dogs are not bad for you because i like hot dogs very much.

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      Carrie 7 years ago

      As July 4 comes around again, I am wondering just how bad hot dogs are for you. Fish has mercury, beef has hormones and antibiotics and chickens are often diseased with additives.

    • Aya Katz profile image

      Aya Katz 8 years ago from The Ozarks

      Alexadry, it's not really the fats that are the cause for concern with hot dogs. Due to the high fat content of hot dogs, they are actually one of the few foods you could live on, if you had to choose a single food. (I read that in Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food.) However, if you read the ingredients list of many hot dogs, you will find high fructose syrup and other empty carbs. So if you're looking for a healthier hot dog, try those that are marked "gluten free".

    • ocbill profile image

      ocbill 8 years ago from hopefully somewhere peaceful and nice

      great info. I hope to get my kid to listen to me to eat healthier, maybe some pictures will do or heavy reading will do it. It worked for me as I grew up reading prevention magazine