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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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